Lipase-catalyzed Production and Purification of Palm Esters Using Stirred Tank Reactors (STR)

J Oleo Sci. 2019 Apr 1;68(4):329-337. doi: 10.5650/jos.ess18197. Epub 2019 Mar 13.


Lipase-catalyzed production of palm esters was performed via alcoholysis of palm oil and oleyl alcohol in solvent and solvent-free systems using a 2 L stirred tank reactor (STR). Two immobilized lipases were tested and Lipozyme RM IM exhibited superior performance in both reaction systems. Reusability studies of the enzymes in a solvent-free system also demonstrated the high stability of Lipozyme RM IM as shown by its ability to yield more than 70% palm esters with up to 19 cycles of reusing the same enzymes. Modification of the enzyme washing process improved the stability of Lipozyme TL IM in a solvent system as demonstrated by maintaining 65% yield after 5 times of repeated enzyme use. The scale up process for both lipases was conducted in the presence of solvents by using the impeller tip speed approach. Lipozyme RM IM-catalyzed reaction in a 15 L STR produced 85.7% yield and there was a significant drop to 60.7% in the 300 L STR, whereas Lipozyme TL IM had a lower yield (65%) when the reaction volume was increased to 15 L. The low yields could be due to the accumulation of enzymes at the bottom of the vessel. Purification of palm esters via solvent-solvent extraction revealed that more than 90% of oleyl alcohol was extracted after the third extraction cycle at 150 rpm impeller speed with reduced palm esters: ethanol ratio (v/v) from 1:4 to 1:3.

Keywords: Lipozyme RM IM; Lipozyme TL IM; palm esters; solvent-free system; stirred tank reactor.

MeSH terms

  • Bioreactors*
  • Catalysis
  • Enzymes, Immobilized / chemistry*
  • Esters / chemical synthesis*
  • Ethanol
  • Fatty Alcohols / chemistry
  • Fatty Alcohols / isolation & purification
  • Lipase / chemistry*
  • Liquid-Liquid Extraction / methods
  • Palm Oil / chemistry*
  • Solvents


  • Enzymes, Immobilized
  • Esters
  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Solvents
  • oleyl alcohol
  • Ethanol
  • Palm Oil
  • Lipozyme
  • Lipase