Enzymes in waste water treatment
In recent years, the use of living systems such as microorganisms and plants to degrade recalcitrant pollutants is gaining importance as a viable alternative to existing physico-chemical removal methods.
Biological systems are able to bring about the degradation of the target chemicals primarily due to their enzymes. Hence enzymes, both intracellular and extracellular, are being explored as biochemical means of wastewater treatment. In general, enzymes are highly specific and extremely efficient catalysts. They can selectively degrade a target pollutant without affecting the other components in the effluent. Therefore, enzymatic treatment is suitable for effluents that contain relatively large amounts of the recalcitrant target pollutants in comparison to others. More importantly, they can operate under mild reaction conditions, especially temperature and pH. In this respect, enzymes outperform the regular catalysts (transition elements like Cu, Ni etc.). From the environmental perspective, enzymes are more acceptable due to their biodegradability.