Enzymes for the cleavage of phosphate esters into waste materials

As a main component of fertilizers, phosphates are very important in agriculture. In addition to mineral fertilizers, agricultural residues (manure, fermentation residues) are also used for fertilization, but they contain an undefined amount of organic phosphorus and inorganic phosphate.

Recovery of phosphorus from agricultural residues for targeted P-fertilization makes sense from an ecological and economic point of view.

The purification of the agricultural residues and the subsequent precipitation of the inorganic phosphate is carried out in the nutrient management research group.

Enzymes for the hydrolysis of phosphate esters

In addition to inorganic phosphate, agricultural residues such as manure or fermentation residues also contain organically bound phosphorus. To exploit this previously untapped potential, the phosphate esters containing organic phosphate are hydrolyzed with the aid of enzymes and inorganic phosphate is released in the process. In contrast to chemical degradation, the use of enzymes enables hydrolysis under mild conditions in an aqueous solution with a good yield. The enzymes used for this purpose at Fraunhofer IGB were initially selected with regard to selectivity, specificity and availability. The enzymatic hydrolysis itself is not only optimized with regard to the reaction parameters, but process development is also intensified from a process engineering point of view.

Range of services

  • Enzymes are produced in high-performance microorganisms in high yield and purity. We offer you to produce the enzymes you require using the DNA sequences.
  • We develop and optimize enzymatic processes for the production of high-quality products from renewable raw materials.
  • We can offer the optimization of processes with or without enzymes using statistical methods.
  • We analyze the ingredients of your samples (e.g. sugar) using standardized protocols.

Reference projects

PhosFarm – Recovery of inorganic phosphate by enzymatic cleavage of organic phosphate esters


The EU-funded interdisciplinary project PhosFarm aims to produce organically bound phosphate in inorganic form from agricultural residues and waste from the food industry.


Duration: January 2013 – January 2015