Membrane assisted process intensification for enzymatic production of esters, oligosaccharides, and chiral amines

The ability of biocatalysis to meet the ever-increasing demands for highly selective, safe, and sustainable industrial processes has been proven. It is an appealing technology for the synthesis of products used in improvement of human and animal health.

For a potential biocatalytic application in industry, the challenges associated with both the biocatalyst and the process need to be solved. Process intensification plays an important role in this direction. In our work, we demonstrate three enzymatic synthesis routes where membrane assisted processes were applied namely (i) fatty acid esters, (ii) oligosaccharide (iii) chiral amines. Our work regarding lipases focuses on (enzymatically underdeveloped) classes of ester products involving azeotropes in solventless production processes. A first case deals with hydrophilic pervaporation integrated with direct esterification for isopropyl ester production. We've noticed that small organic acids such as acetic acid and (meth)acrylic acid inhibit and/or inactivate lipases. Hence, for such cases transesterifications are studied where organic/organic pervaporation is integrated for e.g. geranyl acetate production. Both research lines are guided by a combination of mechanistic and empirical models incorporated in "PervApp" (a portmanteau for 'Pervaporation Application'). These digital twins aided by techno-economic assessments allowed us to identify minimum production prices by varying key design parameters, which is beneficial for further developments and guiding of upscaling studies. A thorough understanding of all process related phenomena could lead into an enzymatic production platform for these interesting classes of esters. In addition, results on sugar ester synthesis, solvent recycling and esters with antioxidant properties will be presented. The second case focuses on the production of oligosaccharides (e.g. pectin-, chitosan- and xylo-oligosaccharides) from polysaccharides. Oligosaccharides are a major class of naturally occurring carbohydrates consisting of 3 to 10 monosaccharides. They are produced by chemical or enzymatic hydrolysis in batch. In this talk, we will present the results of the enzymatic production of specific types of oligosaccharides in an enzyme membrane reactor (EMR). Finally, we will also demonstrate a membrane assisted strategy using high molecular weight (HMW) amine donors for the transaminase-catalyzed synthesis of chiral amine. Reaction in organic solvent and coupling the reaction


Yamini Satyawali, Wouter Van Hecke, Winnie Dejonghe


Separation and Conversion Technology, Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium *Corresponding author:, Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium

Presenting author

Yamini Satyawali, R&D professional, VITO
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