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Capillary electrophoresis method for the analysis of organic acids and amino acids in the presence of strongly alternating concentrations of aqueous lactic acid


During the production of bio-based bulk chemicals, such as lactic acid (LA), organic impurities have to be removed to produce a ready-to-market product. A capillary electrophoresis method for the simultaneous detection of LA and organic impurities in less than 10 min was developed. LA and organic impurities were detected using a direct UV detection method with micellar background electrolyte, which consisted of borate and sodium dodecyl sulfate. We investigated the effects of electrolyte composition and temperature on the speed, sensitivity, and robustness of the separation. A few validation parameters, such as linearity, limit of detection, and internal and external standards, were evaluated under optimized conditions. The method was applied for the detection of LA and organic impurities, including tyrosine, phenylalanine, and pyroglutamic acid, in samples from a continuous LA fermentation process from post-extraction tapioca starch and yeast extract.

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Fig. 1
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Lactic acid


Lactic acid bacteria


Pyroglutamic acid








Capillary zone electrophoresis


Electroosmotic flow


Limit of determination


Limit of quantitation


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The authors would like to thank the Department of Bioengineering at the Leibniz-Institute for Agricultural Engineering (ATB) for the provision of sample material from the SynRg research project and the Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe e.V. (FNR)/Bundesministerium für Landwirtschaft, Ernährung und Verbraucherschutz (BMELV) for funding the SynRg (22023008) research project and the American Journal Experts (AJE) for language editing and manuscript revision. This research is supported by funds from the Bioenergy 2020 program allocated from the German Federal Ministry of Research and Education to Project Management Jülich (PtJ). The analytical part was supported by ICA, a company for chemical analysis located in Langen (Germany).

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Correspondence to Hendrik Laube.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

HL designed and coordinated the study, performed the data analysis, and drafted the manuscript. JB performed the analysis on the CE-UV/Vis system and helped draft the manuscript. RS carried out the fermentation procedure. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Laube, H., Boden, J. & Schneider, R. Capillary electrophoresis method for the analysis of organic acids and amino acids in the presence of strongly alternating concentrations of aqueous lactic acid. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 40, 981–988 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00449-017-1761-7

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  • Amino acids
  • Lactic acid
  • Fermentation broth
  • Organic acids
  • Pyroglutamic acid
  • Process monitoring