On the (un)greenness of biocatalysis: Some challenging figures and some promising options

P Dominguez de Maria, F Hollmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)
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Biocatalysis is generally regarded as a “green” technology. This statement is justified by the mild reaction conditions, the use of aqueous reaction media—with water as the paradigm of green solvents—, and the renewable nature of the biocatalysts. However, researchers making these statements frequently do not take into account the entire picture of their processes. Aspects like water consumption, wastewater production, titers, and metrics of the (diluted?) biocatalytic processes are important as well. With those figures at hand, many biocatalytic reactions do not appear so green anymore. This article critically discusses some common wrong assumptions given for biocatalytic approaches, with regard to their environmental impact, and actual greenness. Some promising biocatalytic approaches, such as the use of biphasic systems involving biogenic solvents, deep-eutectic-solvents (and biogenic ionic liquids), water-free media, solvent-free processes, are briefly introduced, showing that enzyme catalysis can actually be a robust sustainable alternative for chemical processes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1257
Number of pages5
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2015


  • biocatalysis
  • organic chemistry
  • green chemistry
  • solvents
  • organic synthesis
  • OA-Fund TU Delft


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