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A simple analogy that is sometimes used to describe the activity of enzymes involves biltong.  Most know that to eat a stick of dried, but not too dry kudu biltong is a laborious process.  It requires some wrenching and a lot of chewing.  Slicing the biltong in a cutting machine will produce a packet of biltong slithers.  In a bet that cannot be lost, the sliced biltong can be eaten more quickly than the biltong stick.  And that is what an enzyme does, it slices up large carbohydrates.  In brackets, enzymes do a whole lot more than that, but from a waste water engineering perspective, the biltong analogy is useful and descriptive.

Many waste water treatment plants used bacteria to remove dissolved organic material found in the polluted water.  The cell structure of bacteria is defined as prokaryotic and this means that a bacterial cell has no nucleus.  DNA, ribosomes, enzymes and bits of substrate float around in an intercellular liquid cytoplasm.  Substrate in this case would be the dissolved organic compounds present in the waste water. A thin membrane serves to hold the cell in shape.  By some clever alchemy, the bacterial cell manages to convert available substrate into useful cellular building blocks.  The mind boggles.  Many of these processes are facilitated by enzymes. Enzymes, which are complex molecules, speed up chemical reactions that without assistance would literally be years in the making.  The enzyme catalyst analogy involves a bicycle.  Imagine walking down a long hill, from point A to point B.  The perambulation will take place at a steady 5 km per hour.  If the same route was be taken using a bicycle, the trip would be significantly shorter.  The bicycle does not in anyway influence the outcome or route, it simply and significantly, decreases the travelling time.

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