Hollow Mesoporous Silica Microspheres: Potential for Increased Fermentation and Enzymatic Process Productivity

Mathilde Gosselin, Charles Gaudreault and Cé Guinto Gamys.
Materium Innovation, 790 boulevard industriel, Granby, QC, Canada J2G 9J5.

Historically, fermentation has been done in suspended growth and increased productivity was obtained via the optimization of bioreactors’ operational parameters, microbial strain selection and genetic engineering. Similarly, enzymatic reactor productivity was increased via reactor and enzyme optimization. One area that has been too often overlooked in both fermentation and enzymatic processes is the possibility to increase productivity via adsorption to a mobile media support. Materium Innovation has developed a hollow mesoporous silica microsphere that can be used as both a microorganism carrier and as an immobilization support for enzymes. The spheres’ high specific surface area and surface chemistry are well suited for microorganism or enzyme adsorption and immobilization. Results demonstrate that, under certain fermentation conditions, incubation time can be reduced by several hours and productivity can be increased up to 30%. Results also show that for many enzymes, most enzymatic activity is retained after immobilization. Furthermore, immobilized enzyme stability against temperature and pH changes is increased. Finally, immobilization has an advantageous impact on process costs since it has the potential to reduce microorganism washout and allow enzyme recycling.