Lipase Catalysed Trans Esterification
There has been great emphasis on the use of biodiesel due to worldwide scarcity of fossil fuels, increasing crude oil prices and environmental concerns to reduce pollution. Production of biodiesel from biologically derived oils involves trans esterification of these triglycerides with short chain alcohols to yield alkyl esters of fatty acids. These can be used in engines which are having compression ignition (diesel) and are termed as “biodiesel”. Trans esterification catalysis reaction can be chemical and enzymatic by nature.
The disadvantages of chemical synthesis processes (for instance expenditure of high energy, triglycerides trans esterification with high free fatty acid content) and downstream processes (like glycerol recovery, withdrawn of water and inorganic salts from the product, and treatment of alkaline waste water) makes the chemical approach more complex and costly.
Thus, the need for development of clean, reliable, eco-friendly and benign processes are motivating researchers to use biological systems as possible “biocatalysts”. Use of biocatalyst creates the operation environment friendly, however, has certain limitations like elevated cost of enzyme (lipase), less yield, high reaction time, requirement of water as well as organic solvents in the reaction mixture.
Lipase belongs to hydrolases class of enzyme with EC 18.104.22.168. They exhibit hydrolytic and synthetic activity. Utilization of mono, di and tri glycerides and free fatty acids in trans esterification reaction, inhibition of low product, efficient activity, less reaction time, re utility of immobilized enzyme, yield in non-aqueous media, temperature and alcohol resistance are most required features of the lipase. Therefore search for an ideal enzyme is required which can catalyse the trans esterification reaction with combinations of all these desired characteristics.
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