Conversion Prediction of an Enzymatic Esterification with the ReactIR 45m and iC Quant

Nowadays, fatty acid esters are irreplaceable components in modern cosmetics and skin care products. The biocatalytic production of these esters gives broad advantages compared to the convenient chemically catalyzed processes in view of decreasing waste production and levels of undesired by products.

Recently, a new process of the fatty acid ester production using Novozym 435 as a catalyst in a highly viscous solvent free environment was developed and tested on pilot scale2. Despite of good process characteristics there is still room for optimization of the operation parameters and process control analytics. One promising improvement is the implementation of FTIR based online analytics due to its robustness, cost efficiency and rapidity3.
To confirm the applicability of FTIR technique to the chosen reaction system, the synthesis of myristyl myristate was monitored by ReactIR 45m equipped with an external AgX fiber conduit diamond ATR probe in the range of 650 - 1950 cm-1.

A chemometric model was built with iC Quant software by using the correlation between the conversion determined by titration and the spectra recorded at different time points. The obtained model was cross-validated and successfully applied for the prediction of the reaction courses for independent batches4.

This method can be applied for the stirred tank reactor as well as for the bubble column. The extension to other reaction systems is currently under investigation.

This work was funded in part by the BMBF in the Cluster "Biocatalysis2021“.


[1] O. Thum, Tens. Surf. Det., 41, 2004, No. 6, p. 287-290
[2] O. Thum, L. Hilterhaus, A. Liese, DE102008004726.0
[3] G. Puxty et al., Chem. Eng. Sci., 2008, DOI: 10.1016/j.ces.2008.01.020.
[4] Müller JJ et al., article in preparation

Prof. Dr. Andreas Liese (40) studied chemistry at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn, Germany and carried out his doctoral research at the Research Center Jülich, Germany, in close collaboration with DSM Research, Netherlands, receiving his PhD degree in 1998 from the Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn. From 1998 to 2003 Liese was Assistant Professor at the University of Bonn and Head of the Enzyme Group within the Institute of Biotechnology II (Prof. Dr. C. Wandrey), Research Center Jülich. During a sabbatical in 2000 at Pfizer Global Research & Development, San Diego, USA, he initiated a R&D group on biocatalysis. From 2003 to 2004 he worked as Associate Professor at the University of Münster, receiving a full professorship for Technical Biocatalysis 2004 at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) as the Director of the Institute of Technical Biocatalysis, which he continues to expand. In 2003 Prof Liese received the Award of Up-and-Coming Teacher in Higher Education in the field of biotechnology (DECHEMA, Germany). He is an elected member of the steering committee “Biotechnology” of the DECHEMA e.V. and of the steering committee of the Germany Catalysis Society. His three books (Industrial Biotransformations,Biological Principles Applied to Technical Asymmetric Catalysis and Biocatalysis for the Pharmaceutical Industry) which he authored deal with processes of white biotechnology. Prof. Liese’s special research interests are bioprocess engineering, enzyme technology and asymmetric biochemical synthesis.

Jakob Müller studied process engineering with a major in biotechnology at the Hamburg University of Technology. As a part of this study he interned for six months at Evonik Goldschmidt in Essen in the biotechnology research division.

In 2008, he joined the research team of Prof. Dr. Andreas Liese as a PhD at the institute of Technical Biocatalysis at Hamburg University of Technology. His work deals with the enzymatic production of cosmetic components in a new reactor concept. The major focus lies on the scale up of the process and the establishment of online analytics.

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