Chemistry of the Alkaline Hydrolysis Process

Hydrolysis is a process whereby chemical bonds are broken by the insertion of water between the atoms in the bond. Hydrolysis can be catalyzed by enzymes, metal salts, acids, or bases. Bases are typically water solutions of alkali metal hydroxides such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH) or potassium hydroxide (KOH). Heating the reactants dramatically accelerates the hydrolysis reaction.

The process thus destroys all of these classes of compounds, reducing them to their building blocks and, in some cases, degrading them even further into smaller molecules. All proteins, regardless of their origin, are destroyed during the alkaline hydrolysis process. Alkaline Hydrolysis Process

Amino acids are linked to each other in a peptide (amide) bond in which the carboxyl group of one amino acid is condensed to the amino group of another amino acid with elimination of water. The resulting polymer is called a polypeptide or protein. All polypeptides consist primarily of the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen, along with smaller amounts of other elements, mainly sulfur and phosphorous. Hydrolysis reverses the condensation of amino acids into proteins by the acid- or alkali- catalyzed breaking of the peptide bonds and the addition of water at the break.