Scientists Find Jobs Turning 'Extremozymes' Into Industrial Catalysts

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Joan Combie's small company finds microbes in Yellowstone National Park. A small yet growing opportunity exists for biochemists and engineers interested in turning "extremozymes" into industrial catalysts. In nature, these peculiar enzymes fuel microbes that live in scalding sea vents, hot springs, and other adverse locales. Such hardiness means extremozymes might function in hotter, more high-pressure manufacturing conditions than can today's industrial enzymes. As a res

Kathryn Brown
Sep 29, 1996

Joan Combie
GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Joan Combie's small company finds microbes in Yellowstone National Park.
A small yet growing opportunity exists for biochemists and engineers interested in turning "extremozymes" into industrial catalysts. In nature, these peculiar enzymes fuel microbes that live in scalding sea vents, hot springs, and other adverse locales.

Such hardiness means extremozymes might function in hotter, more high-pressure manufacturing conditions than can today's industrial enzymes.

As a result, extremozymes could speed up or maximize reactions used to make food, detergents, and drugs; remediate toxic waste; and drill for oil.

Jay Short
LOOKING DOWNSTREAM: Jay Short sees opportunities for chemists in the engineering phase.
"Take the food industry," offers Jay Short, chief technology officer at Recombinant BioCatalysis Inc., a private company in Sharon Hill, Pa., that isolates and sells extremozymes, among other enzymes. "[Manufacturing] processes need to be sterile. If you can run things above 60C, it is automatically sterile. The...

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