Transesterification is a principal chemical reaction that occurs in biodiesel production. We developed a novel biocatalytic membrane microreactor (BMM) for continuous transesterification by utilizing an asymmetric membrane as an enzyme-carrier for immobilization. The BMM was developed by pressure driven filtration of lipase from Pseudomonas fluorescens, which is suitable for highly efficient biocatalytic transesterification. Lipase solution was allowed to permeate through an asymmetric membrane with NMWL 300 kDa composed of polyethersulfone. The performances of BMM were studied in biodiesel synthesis via transesterification of triolein with methanol. Transesterification was carried out by passing a solution of triolein and methanol through the asymmetric membrane. The degree of triolein conversion using this microreactor was ca. 80% with a reaction time of 19 min. The BMM system displayed good stability, with no activity decay over a period of 12 day with continuous operation. Results from triolein transesterification clearly demonstrate the potential of an asymmetric membrane as an enzyme carrier material. Enzyme activity (mmol/h·g lipase) was approximately 3 fold higher than that of native free lipase.
- asymmetric membrane