London: In a breakthrough that may eventually lead to the development of new industrial catalysts for processing biodiesel, researchers at University of Bristol have created an enzyme which can exist as a liquid without any solvent.
Enzymes are large biological molecules that catalyse different chemical reactions essential for all life.
It was thought that water was necessary for enzymes to perform their various roles.
However, new findings show that water is not essential for enzymes to fulfill their biological role.
"From our preliminary experiments, we knew that the molecular structure of the industrial enzyme lipase was still intact after the modifications even at 150 degrees Celsius," said Adam Perriman from Bristol University's school of cellular and molecular medicine.
However, we were surprised to discover that the catalytic activity of the enzyme was still present, Perriman added.
Thus, researchers can do away with the need for water by decorating the surface of the industrial enzyme lipase with long detergent molecules.
This finding may pave the way for the development of new thermally robust industrial enzymes that could be utilised in harsh processing conditions, with applications ranging from detergent technologies to alternative energies via biofuel production, researchers concluded.
The study published in the journal Nature Communications.