Drastic improvements are targeted by redesigning existing production schemes into more efficient ones. This often involves integrating a separation step during the (enzymatic) reaction resulting in a more efficient and economical process. Different strategies to address potential drawbacks of enzymatic processes such as substrate and/or product inhibition, unfavourable equilibria, unwanted product (bio)transformation, can be investigated and implemented.

Your benefits

Controlled (co-)product removal or substrate supply:

Clever integration of membrane technology allows controlled addition of inhibitory agents, or the continuous withdrawal/separation of an inhibitory or unstable product from the reaction mixture. Controlled co-product or water removal is for instance an essential step in lipase based (trans)esterification and can be achieved through organophilic or hydrophilic pervaporation.

Multiphase reactions:

VITO has experience with the optimization and operation of conversions, which involve substrates that are hardly miscible. It can run biphasic membrane contactor setups to supply substrates or extract products that are poorly soluble in aqueous or organic solutions.

Production of tailored oligomers:

Enzyme membrane reactors allow tailored enzymatic hydrolysis of macromolecules to oligomers with controlled product molecular size and characteristics, such as functional, nutritional or immunological properties. Either a single membrane filtration step or a cascade of membranes can be used to obtain oligomers with a specific molecular weight range. Examples are tailor made peptides and oligosaccharides.

Production of enzymes:

VITO has all equipment to produce and recover cell extracts or enzymes for subsequent test work.

Our offer

  • Offering knowhow and use of equipment to design and optimize enzymatic conversions potentially by integrating membrane technology in the conversion process
  • Offering knowhow on aqueous and solvent phase reactions and on reactions with hardly miscible substrates
  • Capacity to produce intra- and extracellular enzymes at lab-scale for test work
  • Access to lab- and pilot-scale equipment

VITO’s equipment and expertise for intensification of enzymatic processes are of interest to:

  • Pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food and feed, flavor and fragrances, fine chemical industry and others, looking for a biobased alternative to an existing chemical process, or wishing to improve a suboptimal enzymatic process
  • companies active in biocatalyst development and in need of a bioprocess development or an upscaling partner
  • technology developers or suppliers.

Why work with VITO?

Equipment and infrastructure

  • Equipment for enzyme production
  • Enzyme-substrate screening and reaction optimization (1 to 50 mL scale)
  • Packed bed, fluidized bed, and stirred tank reactors (from 50 mL up to 5 L working volume) for operation in stand-alone mode or coupled with separation technology, in (repeated) batch or continuous mode
  • Lab certification/permit for work with GMOs
  • Tailor-made flexible mobile skids for validation testing on-site, including membrane units for micro-, ultra- and nanofiltration, and pervaporation units (some ATEX compliant). All skids are equipped with on-line measurements for monitoring, automation and (remote) control

Download lab & pilot separation infrastructure document

Expertise and knowhow

  • Unique track record on operation of membrane bioreactors for enzyme retention and/or immobilization and for in-situ product removal
  • Extensive knowhow on design, engineering, operation and optimization of (multiphase) enzymatic processes coupled with membrane technology
  • Specific expertise on the application of lipases, transaminases, glycosidases (pectinase, xylanase, carrageenase, chitosanase, sucrose phosphorylase, …), laccases, proteases, etc.
  • Experience with production of enzymes and enzyme extracts
  • Delivery of kg-scale product samples
  • Phased trajectory from proof-of concept to feasibility studies at lab- and pilot-scale
  • Techno-economic assessment of results
  • Existing patent portfolio

The project targets lipase-based esterification in the absence of solvent. The advantages of this approach compared to traditional chemical processes, include process simplification, increased product quality and reduced carbon footprint.

EnzymASE studies Enzymes for Added Sustainability and Efficiency. The goal of this project is to construct a platform for companies with a strategic interest in biocatalysis.

This four-year research project aims to develop new ways of valorising wheat bran, an agricultural co-product produced by milling and biorefineries.

This strategic basic research project aims to develop a new value chain for the Flemish bio-economy through inventive wood refining towards highly valuable agro-industrial chemicals (BioWood).

This project focuses on the innovative production and use of sugar esters, obtained by reacting a sugar with a (fatty) acid.