Enzymes cut industrial emissions and resource use

Comprehensive scientific review of existing studies shows enzyme technology is a promising means of moving towards cleaner industrial production

Novozymes scientists have produced the first review of existing studies into the use of enzymatic solutions in various industries, confirming they provide significant savings on water, energy and raw materials, as compared to conventional processes.

The findings are published in the peer-reviewed, scientific Journal of Cleaner Production in a paper by Kenthorai Raman Jegannathan and Per Henning Nielsen.

‘Enzymes have a proven track record of improving efficiency of industrial processes by reducing energy, water and raw materials use, and cutting waste. This is the first time we review the environmental benefits of enzyme use in industry, and document the positive effects in more general terms,” says Per Henning Nielsen, Senior Manager at Novozymes.

Enzymes, not chemicals

The review documents the effect of enzyme use in industries such as textiles, leather, pulp and paper, food and beverages, animal feed and pharmaceuticals, among others.

It shows that enzymes, when used as an alternative to conventional processes, have helped reduce industries’ emissions and thereby contribution to global warming and acid rain, as well as their impact on agricultural land use, and pollution of aquatic resources.

‘Using enzymes in industry is to use nature’s technology, and is a way to work smart,’ says Per Henning Nielsen. ‘Industries are looking for low cost solutions, and we have a solution for them here: they can implement enzymes in their production process, save energy and meet targets for reducing their impact on climate change.’

Typically, small amounts of enzymes are used in industrial processes in a targeted way to speed up reactions and reduce the temperature at which processes take place, thereby saving water, energy and chemicals.

In 2011, Novozymes’ customers saved 45 million tons of CO2 by using the company’s enzymes, instead of conventional processes, in their production.