A life cycle assessment of early-stage enzyme manufacturing simulations from sustainable feedstocks

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Enzyme-catalyzed reactions have relatively small environmental footprints. However, enzyme manufacturing significantly impacts the environment through dependence on traditional feedstocks. With the objective of determining the environmental impacts of enzyme production, the sustainability potential of six cradle-to-gate enzyme manufacturing systems focusing on glucose, sea lettuce, acetate, straw, and phototrophic growth, was thoroughly evaluated. Human and ecosystem toxicity categories dominated the overall impacts. Sea lettuce, straw, or phototrophic growth reduces fermentation-based emissions by 51.0, 63.7, and 79.7%, respectively. Substituting glucose-rich media demonstrated great potential to reduce marine eutrophication, land use, and ozone depletion. Replacing organic nitrogen sources with inorganic ones could further lower these impacts. Location-specific differences in electricity result in a 14% and a 27% reduction in the carbon footprint for operation in Denmark compared to the US and China. Low-impact feedstocks can be competitive if they manage to achieve substrate utilization rates and productivity levels of conventional enzyme production processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130653
JournalBioresource Technology
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Enzyme Manufacturing
  • Life Cycle Assessment
  • Low-impact Feedstocks
  • Recombinant Enzyme Production
  • Sustainable Bioprocesses


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