Project Title
Novel nanostructured polymeric materials for concurrent biocatalysis and separation
Project Type
Nacional / Public
Funding Body
Funding Program
  • CEB: 40 536,00
  • Total: 195 022,00
Universidade do Minho, Universidade de Aveiro, Universidade de Coimbra
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Principal Investigator

Fellowship Members - CEB


Despite of the large number of available strategies for enzyme immobilization and the vast amount of studies already performed, the subject is still a matter of intense research and the available methods still show many drawbacks, even those more recently proposed involving nanostructured carriers. For example, mesoporous silica usually confines enzyme molecules on its inner surface, which limits the diffusion of substrate to/off the enzyme and results in lower enzyme activity. Nanoparticles and nanotubes are known to remarkably decrease mass transfer limitation, while their dispersion and recycling are more difficult. With their unique characteristics, electrospun nanofiber mats have tremendous potential as novel supports for enzyme immobilization. Why? Essentially due to three main attributes: 1) Versatility, since a variety of polymers can be electrospun and meet different requirements as supports; 2) Their morphology and structural organization, since the large surface area per unit mass facilitates reaction kinetics and the high porosity and the interconnectivity of electrospun supports provides them with a low hindrance for mass transfer and improved reusability; 3) Easy functionalization, since the nanofiber surfaces can be physically or chemically modified to profit enzyme activity. The purpose of this project is to develop and optimize the characteristics of nanofibrous electrospun mats to be used as improved carriers for enzymes. The project will involve the preparation and characterization of electrospun nanofibrous mats, enzyme (pepsin and trypsin) immobilization by surface binding and entrapment and the evaluation of the activity of the immobilized enzymes. In addition, since the electropsun membranes consist of a collection of randomly arrayed nanofibers forming a non-woven mesh, the enzyme-immobilized nanofibrous membranes can also be explored as filters. In fact, added-value is expected to be obtained by using these materials with both functions of biocatalysis and separation simultaneously, enabling, e.g., the application of these membranes in enzymatic membrane-bioreactors.