Enzymes- Industrial Use
Enzymes are biological molecules that function as catalysts. Without them, many naturally occurring chemical processes would be impossible, or occur at an inadequate rate (Internal digestion, decomposition of waste, regulating biological chemical pathways, etc.). Enzymes have been utilized by humans in industrial processes even before there was an understanding of enzymes. For many years beer, wine, yogurt, cheese, etc. were made, though not much was understood about how this occurred. It is likely that these were discovered by accident, and then the method by which i was made was simply reproduced.
In the production of alcoholic beverages such as wine or beer, the respective ingredients undergo a process known as fermentation, which occurs in the presence of a fungus known as yeast. Yeast contains certain enzymes that break down the sugars in, for example, grapes, producing ethanol and carbon dioxide. The enzymes function sufficiently for production of beverages with small concentrations of ethanol, such as beer or wine but for stronger drinks such as rum or vodka, after fermentation, the mixture will need to be distilled to increase the ethanol concentration to the desired amount. Above a certain ethanol concentration, the alcohol inhibits the function of the enzymes, and so no more ethanol may be produced by enzymes past about 18 percent.
Enzymes are similarly used in many other industries; in baking, yeast is used, as a similar reaction is undergone and the carbon dioxide produced causes dough to rise. In the production of cheese and yogurt, an enzyme called rennin is used to catalyze protein hydrolysis reactions in milk, as well as lactases are used to break down lactose. These are used to varying extents to produce different predominant characteristics of the cheese as desired.
Uses of enzymes in industry today range from food to biofuel, and all in between, as they are a key factor in efficiency of chemical reactions, with respect to time, power consumption and precision of reactions.