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On-line conversion estimation for solvent-free enzymatic esterification systems with water activity control


On-line conversion estimation of enzymatic esterification reactions in solvent-free media was investigated. In principle, conversion to ester can be determined from the amount of water produced by the reaction, because water is formed as a by-product in a stoichiometric manner. In this study, we estimated the water production rate only from some measurements of relative humidity and water balances without using any analytical methods. In order to test the performance of the on-line conversion estimation, the lipase-catalyzed esterification ofn-capric acid andn-decyl alcohol in solvent-free media was performed whilst controlling water activity at various values. The reaction conversions estimated on-line were similar to those determined by offline gas chromatographic analysis. However, when the water activity was controlled at higher values, discrepancies between the estimated conversion values and the measured values became significant. The deviation was found to be due to the inaccurate measurement of the water content in the reaction medium during the initial stages of the reaction. Using a digital filter, we were able to improve the accuracy of the on-line conversion estimation method considerably. Despite the simplicity of this method, the on-line estimated conversions were in good agreement with the off-line measured values.

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Correspondence to Sun Bok Lee.

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Won, K., Lee, S.B. On-line conversion estimation for solvent-free enzymatic esterification systems with water activity control. Biotechnol. Bioprocess Eng. 7, 76–84 (2002).

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  • lipase-catalyzed esterification
  • on-line conversion estimation
  • solvent-free media
  • water activity control