Enzyme action in ionic liquids

Ionic liquids have been touted as environment friendly alternatives to volatile organic solvents for many years. Now, two research teams at Umeå University, Sweden, have shown that switchable ionic liquids can sustain enzymatic activity, thus paving the way for the enzymatic refinement of cellulose to useful molecules and industrial products. The team outlines details of the switchable ionic liquid (SIL) formed by monoethanol amine (MEA) and 1,8-diazabicyclo-[5.4.0]-undec-7-ene (DBU) with sulfur dioxide as the coupling media in the journal ChemSusChem. "This development will be of major importance to the measurement of enzymatic catalysis in complex solutions and preparations, and the method is already being used in new projects," explains team member Jyri-Pekka Mikkolas.