A Unique Catalyst for the Production Of Invert Sugar Syrup

Researchers from the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade, have successfully eliminated the use of acids in the procedure of obtaining invert sugar syrup, by developing chemically modified immobilized invertase (called IHMI). IHMI is the first industry-usable catalyst of this type, avaliable in the global market.

In the confectionery industry, white crystal sugar (saccharose) is converted into an equal amount of glucose and fructose by using acids. This syrup is similar to honey and is therefore, called artificial honey (or invert sugar syrup). The industry needs a large amount of invert syrup made in a short time, so the process is shortened with the application of acid hydrolysis at elevated temperatures. However, the toxicity of this process has been demonstrated in recent years. Another problem that arises is increased acidity of the product, which is regulated with the addition of a base, i.e. sodium hydroxide. However, the salt which is the result of this process causes increased blood pressure when present in confectionery products.

A group of researchers from the Faculty of Chemistry, University of Belgrade, led by Professor Zoran Vujcić, has developed an original technology for obtaining immobilized insoluble invertase, which is successfully used as an enzyme in the hydrolysis reaction. All the problems listed above are successfully solved by using this enzyme (instead of acids), which enables  the hydrolysis reaction to take place at temperatures from 50 to 60°C. Therefore, by-products are not being formed. In order for an enzyme to last longer (in the process) it needs to be stable, which is achieved by using chemically modified invertase. The modification provides stability of invertase at elevated temperatures, ie. the denaturation of enzymes is prevented. In order to prevent dilution of invertase, immobilization is performed in non-toxic materials permitted in the food industry, such as alginate. To meet all the needs, chemically modified immobilized invertase was obtained as the final, innovative product which can replace the catalyst in the process. In this way, it is possible to get 20-50% more of the final product, and it is easy to remove the enzyme from the final product (the immobilized enzyme is simply physically decanted from the reaction mixture) .


IHMI is currently available in the form of spherical, dry catalyst grains with diameters of 0.5 to 2 mm. Most of the research and product development activities were enabled by cooperation with international companies, such as Novozym, Danisco, as well as with local companies Alltech Serbia AD Senta, Valjevo brewery, Vrenje Belgrade, Bambi concern from Požarevac and IPC Belgrade. The TOP 014 team (laboratory of Professor Vujcic and IRC Krusik from Valjevo) won the Contest for the best technological innovation in Serbia in 2010 with IHMI as their product. At the 31st International Exibition of Inventions, New Technologies and Design, IHMI was rewarded with two golden Nikola Tesla medals – as the best technology and the best product. Additionally, many papers about IHMI were published in top scientific journals, such as Food Chemistry [Milovanović, A., Božić, N., Vujčić, Z. Cell wall invertase immobilization within calcium alginate beads. Food Chemistry (2007), 104(1), 81-86; Vujčić, Z., Miloradović, Z., Milovanović, A., Božić, N. Cell wall invertase immobilization within gelatin gel. Food Chemistry (2011), 126, 236-240. ]


Why is IHMI different?

IHMI provides production of a colorless invert sugar, instead of syrup colored with hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) and salts, usually obtained in a case of the classical procedure (acid hydrolysis). The syrup is a healthy, pharmaceuticly usable product, and since its sweetness is 1.3 times higher than in a case of a regular sugar, it is possible to reduce the caloric value of confectionery products up to 30%. The production technology is green, because it uses less energy, less space and significantly cheaper equipment. The use of acids and bases is eliminated, so there is no risk of injury for workers. Another important fact is that IHMI does not generate environmental problems, because when it “finishes with its work”  it can be used for water purification for example, because it binds heavy metals.

“There are no similar products at the moment and we believe that we won’t have serious competition anytime soon. There are some groups in Turkey and Brazil dealing with similar issues, but they use soluble, commercially available invertase. We, however, use the enzyme produced from our raw materials, through our own research and technology and this is our main advantage. IHMI is a product with superior features and it is really needed by the confectionary industry. The technology and product we have developed are ready for commercialization. The product has been tested and a certain amount of it was sold to Bambi-Banat from Pozarevac. Our goal is to establish a biotech company that would produce enzymes for different chemical processes. IHMI could have a major impact on the entire confectionery industry, because it can significantly reduce the share of sugar in products and their caloric value, reducing the consumption of sugar and thus achieving savings. The use of immobilized enzymes is one of the leading technologies of the future, and with IHMI we are stepping into this field, making a large contribution”, says prof. Vujcic.


Source: www.inovacionifond.rs