Background: Previous research focused on pretreatment of biomass, production of fermentable sugars and their consumption to produce ethanol. The main goal of the work was to economise the production process cost of fermentable sugars. Therefore, the objective of the present work was to investigate enzyme hydrolysis of microcrystalline cellulose and hemp hurds (natural cellulosic substrate) using free and immobilised enzymes. Cellulase from Trichoderma reesei was immobilised on an activated magnetic support by covalent binding and its activity was compared with that of the free enzyme to hydrolyse microcrystalline cellulose and hemp hurds on the basis of thermostability and reusability. Results: Up to 94% protein binding was achieved during immobilisation of cellulase on nanoparticles. Successful binding was confirmed using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). The free and immobilised enzymes exhibited identical pH optima (pH 4.0) and differing temperature optima at 50°C and 60°C, respectively. The KM values obtained for the free and immobilised enzymes were 0.87 mg/mL and 2.6 mg/mL respectively. The immobilised enzyme retained 50% enzyme activity up to five cycles, with thermostability at 80°C superior to that of the free enzyme. Optimum hydrolysis of carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) with free and immobilised enzymes was 88% and 81%, respectively. With pretreated hemp hurd biomass (HHB), the free and immobilised enzymes resulted in maximum hydrolysis in 48 h of 89% and 93%, respectively. Conclusion: The current work demonstrated the advantages delivered by immobilised enzymes by minimising the consumption of cellulase during substrate hydrolysis and making the production process of fermentable sugars economical and feasible. The activity of cellulase improved as a result of the immobilisation, which provided a better stability at higher temperatures. The immobilised enzyme provided an advantage over the free enzyme through the reusability and longer storage stability properties that were gained as a result of the immobilisation.
- Hemp hurd