Immobilized lipase-catalyzed transesterification for synthesis of biolubricant from palm oil methyl ester and trimethylolpropane

Bioprocess Biosyst Eng. 2021 Nov;44(11):2429-2444. doi: 10.1007/s00449-021-02615-6. Epub 2021 Jul 16.


The present study reports the effects of three commercial immobilized lipases namely Novozyme 435 from Candida antarctica lipase B (CALB), Lipozyme TL IM from Thermomyces lanuginosus and Lipozyme RM IM from Rhizomucor miehei on the production of trimethylolpropane (TMP) ester from high oleic palm methyl ester (HO-PME) and TMP. The TMP ester is a promising base oil for biolubricants that are easily biodegradable and non-toxic to humans and the environment. Enzymatic catalysts are insensitive to free fatty acid (FFA) content, hence able to mitigate the side reactions and consequently reduce product separation cost. The potential of these enzymes to produce TMP ester in a solvent-free medium was screened at various reaction time (8, 23, 30 and 48 h), operating pressure (0.1, 0.3 and 1.0 mbar) and enzyme dosage (1, 3, 5 and 10% w/w). The reaction was conducted at a constant temperature of 70 °C and a molar ratio of 3.9:1 (HO-PME: TMP). Novozyme 435 produced the highest yield of TMP ester of 95.68 ± 3.60% under the following conditions: 23 h reaction time, 0.1 mbar operating pressure and 5% w/w of enzyme dosage. The key lubrication properties of the produced TMP ester are viscosity index (208 ± 2), pour point (- 30 ± - 2 °C), cloud point (- 15 ± - 2 °C), onset thermal degradation temperature (427.8 °C), and oxidation stability, RPVOT (42 ± 4 min). The properties of the TMP ester produced from the enzymatic transesterification are comparable to other vegetable oil-based biolubricants produced by chemical transesterification.

Keywords: Biocatalysts; Enzyme; Palm oil; Physicochemical; Polyol esters.

MeSH terms

  • Catalysis
  • Enzymes, Immobilized / metabolism*
  • Esterification
  • Esters / metabolism
  • Lipase / metabolism*
  • Lubricants / metabolism*
  • Palm Oil / chemistry
  • Palm Oil / metabolism*
  • Propylene Glycols / metabolism*


  • Enzymes, Immobilized
  • Esters
  • Lubricants
  • Propylene Glycols
  • trimethylolpropane
  • Palm Oil
  • Lipase