Enzymatic membrane reactor (EMR) is an enzymatic bioreactor coupled to a membrane that allows the separation of the enzyme and its reuse in the enzymatic process.
This technology is especially suitable in continuous operation by ensuring the recovery and reusability of the enzymes, allowing the minimization of large consumptions of biocatalyst. The enzyme is added into a reactor tank which is coupled with an ultrafiltration membrane to enable the retention of the free enzyme and its recycling back to the reaction vessel. Thereby, by using an enzymatic membrane reactor, it is possible to separate the biocatalyst for products and/or other substrates by a semipermeable membrane that creates a selective physical/chemical barrier.
This type of bioreactor offers important benefits: high enzyme loads, prolonged enzyme activity, high flow rates, reduced energy requirements, straightforward operation, and scale-up, and also, fresh enzyme can be easily added to maintain constant enzymatic levels. Indeed, this system has been successfully operated for the continuous application of peroxidases and laccases. Specifically, BioGroup has applied enzymatic membrane bioreactors for the transformation of various compounds with bioremediation purposes, for example, for the removal of dyes (Orange II), a polycyclic aromatic compound (anthracene), estrogenic compounds (estrone, estradiol, ethinylestradiol, etc.) and endocrine disrupting chemicals (bisphenol A, nonylphenol, etc). The BioGroup technology is currently at the Technology Readiness Level 5 (TRL-5) of designing and operating an EMR prototype in a continuous process using real wastewater and at environmentally relevant concentrations.