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Ultrasound technology and molecular sieves improve the thermodynamically controlled esterification of butyric acid mediated by immobilized lipase from Rhizomucor miehei

Authors:Roberto Fernandez-Lafuente
Groups of research:Optimización de biocatalizadores y bioprocesos enzimáticos
Lucas P. Fallavena1, Fábio H. F. Antunes1, Joana S. Alves1, Natalia Paludo1, Marco A. Z. Ayub1, Roberto Fernandez-Lafuente2, Rafael C. Rodrigues1,*
1Biotechnology, Bioprocess and Biocatalysis Group, Institute of Food Science and Technology, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Bento Gonçalves, 9500, P.O. Box 15090, ZC 91501-970, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil;
2Department of Biocatalysis, ICP – CSIC, Campus UAM-CSIC, Cantoblanco, ZC 28049, Madrid, Spain.

In this research, the effects of ultrasound stirring and the addition of molecular sieves on esterification reactions between butyric acid and several alcohols catalyzed by immobilized lipase from Rhizomucor miehei (Lipozyme RM-IM) were studied. Among the tested alcohols, 1-propanol and isobutanol allowed the highest activities, whereas Lipozyme RM-IM showed poor activities for esterification reaction using secondary and tertiary alcohols. Different solvents were also tested and n-hexane was selected because of its reaction effects, besides being cheaper, available at low boiling point, and ease to recover. Using the preselected alcohol and solvent, the other reaction parameters (butyric acid concentration, temperature, substrate molar rate, and biocatalyst content) were studied to optimize the reaction conditions. Optimal conditions were acid concentration, 0.7 M; substrate molar ratio, 1:1 alcohol:acid; temperature 45 °C; biocatalyst content, 14 % (by substrate mass). Under these conditions, it was possible to obtain a yield of 86 % of butyl butyrate in 2.5 h. When molecular sieves (90 mg/mmol butytic acid) were added to the reaction, the observed yield increased to 96 %. The biocatalyst was used in 5 successive reaction cycles keeping 100 % of its initial activity. The overall process productivity was improved 5-fold when compared to the traditional mechanical agitation, showing that ultrasound is a promising technology for application in biocatalysis.
Keywords:esterification; lipases; ultrasound; butyric acid; molecular sieves
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