Enzyme Could Help Break Down Hydrogen Peroxide

A catalase enzyme recently discovered by scientists at the US Department of Energys National
Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), Idaho Falls, Idaho, could reduce the harmful
effects of industrial bleaching process wastewater on the environment. The new enzyme is able to
chemically change hydrogen peroxide often used in industrial bleaching processes into water and
oxygen.Taken from the Thermus brockianus microbe found in a hot springs pool at Yellowstone
National Park, the catalase thrives in a high-pH and high-temperature environment, and so works
well in hot, alkaline process wastewater.High-temperature stability makes this enzyme potentially
viable and economically attractive for industrial applications, said William Apel, INEEL. This new
catalase [lasts] for days, where the typical performance limit of many industrial-use enzymes is a
mere 10 hours.

July 2003