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The centrifugal partition reactor, a novel intensified continuous reactor for liquid–liquid enzymatic reactions

Nioi, C., Riboul, D., Destrac, P., Marty, A., Marchal, L., Condoret, J.S.
Biochemical engineering journal 2015 v.103 pp. 227-233
Rhizomucor miehei, batch systems, butanol, carboxylic ester hydrolases, countercurrent chromatography, drugs, enzymatic reactions, enzyme stability, enzyme substrates, esterification, hydrodynamics, oleic acid, solvents
Implementation of continuous processes for production of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals is an efficient way for process intensification. This study aims at demonstrating the potential of a Centrifugal Partition Chromatography (CPC) apparatus as a novel type of intensified reactor (termed Centrifugal Partition Reactor, CPR) for biphasic (water-organic solvent) enzymatic reactions. The reaction of esterification of oleic acid with n-butanol catalyzed by the Rhizomucor miehei lipase was tested as the model reaction.The influence of rotation speed, flow rate, enzyme and substrate concentrations on esterification reaction were studied. The CPR proved to be efficient to generate sufficient interfacial area (weakly dependent of the flow rate) and sufficient residence time (30min) to achieve good conversion (85%). Also, increasing rotation speed of the CPR surprisingly decreased performances, probably due to very specific inner hydrodynamics. For a given configuration, the productivity of the CPR (40.5gh⁻¹L⁻¹) was found to be more favorable than the conventional batch process (21.6gh⁻¹L⁻¹). Steady state operation of the reactor at 22°C, (i.e., constant conversion at the output, see Fig. 8), was reached after about 2 residence times and lasted for 24h. After 24h, the output conversion slowly decreased due to the low intrinsic stability of the enzyme at room temperature.The promising results obtained in this study are a good incentive to promote the CPR as a competitive innovative technology for operating continuous two phase enzymatic reactions.