Enzymes are highly specific biological catalysts that increase the rate of virtually all the chemical reactions in living organisms. We study their role in biodegradation and exploit this knowledge to develop enzyme based sustainable processes for distinct areas ranging from biomaterial processing to environmental protection.
Consequently, the mechanistic study of enzymatic processes in the environment is an important research focus of the Biomaterial- and Enzyme technology research group. Novel insights such as in the transformation of xenobiotics often leads to new enzymes for bioremediation strategies or other industrial processes. Especially enzymes transforming polymeric materials in nature studied by the group have a large potential for novel industrial applications. For example, an important objective is the processing of synthetic and biomaterials using hydrolases and oxidoreductases. Apart from enzymatic functionalisation (e.g. antimicrobial, biocompatible) of these material, enzyme can also be used in recycling of polymers. Due to their high specificity, valuable building blocks can be “extracted” even from blends and composites. On the other hand, efficient degradation of non-food biomass (e.g. lignocellulose) under environmental friendly conditions is a key-prerequisite for in the production of bioenergy where enzymes play a major role. Despite this tremendous potential of microorganisms for industrial processes, - they can can also cause negative effects as pathogens or causing contamination and biodeterioration. This group develops simple but powerful sensors to detect harmful microorganisms such is in wounds.