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JBA-06893; No of Pages 15 Biotechnology Advances xxx (2014) xxx–xxx

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Research review paper

Enzymatic reactors for biodiesel synthesis: Present status and future prospects Jakeline Kathiele Poppe a, Roberto Fernandez-Lafuente b, Rafael C. Rodrigues a,⁎, Marco Antônio Záchia Ayub a,⁎ a Biotechnology, Bioprocess, and Biocatalysis Group, Food Science and Technology Institute, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Bento Gonçalves 9500, PO Box 15090, ZC 91501-970 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil b Departamento de Biocatalisis, ICP-CSIC, Campus UAM-CSIC, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain

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Article history: Received 14 November 2014 Received in revised form 28 January 2015 Accepted 29 January 2015 Available online xxxx Keywords: Biodiesel Lipases Enzyme immobilization Batch reactor Continuous reactor

a b s t r a c t Lipases are being extensively researched for the production of biodiesel as a “silver bullet” in order to avoid the drawbacks of the traditional alkaline transesterification. In this review, we analyzed the main factors involved in the enzymatic synthesis of biodiesel, focusing in the choice of the immobilization protocol, and the parameters involved in the choice and configuration of the reactors. An extensive discussion is presented about the advantages and disadvantages of each type of reactor and their mode of operation. The current scenario of the market for enzymatic biodiesel and some future prospects and necessary developments are also briefly presented. © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Contents 1. 2.

Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Technical aspects of biodiesel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2.1. Raw materials for biodiesel production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. Enzymatic catalysis of biodiesel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.1. Lipases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3.2. Supports for lipase immobilization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. Enzymatic reactors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.1. Batch reactors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.2. Continuous reactors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3. General reactor settings. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.3.1. Mass transfer aspects in reactors . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.4. Use of solvents in reactors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4.5. Current context in the industrial enzymatic production of biodiesel . 5. Concluding remarks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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1. Introduction

⁎ Corresponding authors. Tel.: +55 51 3308 6685; fax: +55 51 3308 7048. E-mail addresses: [emailprotected] (R.C. Rodrigues), [emailprotected] (M.A.Z. Ayub). URL's: http://www.ufrgs.br/bbb (R.C. Rodrigues), http://www.ufrgs.br/bbb (M.A.Z. Ayub).

The possibility of using agricultural-based fuels in diesel cycle engines is very attractive in the view of environmental aspects because these are renewable energy sources and can use several agricultural and agro-industrial residues for their synthesis. Biodiesel is defined by the National Biodiesel Board (USA) as a monoester of fatty acids derived

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.01.011 0734-9750/© 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article as: Poppe JK, et al, Enzymatic reactors for biodiesel synthesis: Present status and future prospects, Biotechnol Adv (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.01.011

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from renewable sources of long chain, such as vegetable oils and animal fats (Knothe, 2006). Biodiesel is a renewable, carbon neutral biofuel, with neutral mass balance of CO2 from emissions and absorption thereof by the plant (Yaakob et al., 2013). Many oilseeds can be used to produce biodiesel, among them, the most important are soybean, sunflower, and palm oils, and the different alternatives depend upon the cultures in each region. On the other hand, given the large generation of waste oils by industrial and economical activities, it is becoming important to further explore alternative sources of oils, such as waste vegetable oils from cooking and various fats (Antczak et al., 2009). Alkaline catalysis is still the most important technological route for the industrial production of biodiesel via transesterification reaction because of its shorter reaction time and high productivity. However, alkaline catalysis presents drawbacks related to the inevitable production of soaps caused by the saponification of free fatty acids, leading to losses of catalysts and difficult process of separation and purification of the formed glycerol, reducing the yields of the reaction (Leung et al., 2010). The enzymatic synthesis of biodiesel, mediated through the use of lipases (EC 3.1.1.3, triacylglycerol hydrolases), presents important advantages over the chemical catalysts, such as the specificity, enantioselectivity, and regioselectivity of the reactions, therefore generating less side-products and wastes, and the reactions can be carried out at mild conditions of temperature and pressure (Ghaly et al., 2010). Enzymatic industrial processes are generally relatively simple, easy to control, and more efficient on energy input when compared to traditional chemical processes (Oliveira and Mantovani, 2009). Furthermore, in the case of lipase-based synthesis of biodiesel, the separation of glycerol generated as a by-product and the purification of the produced esters are easily performed (f*ckuda et al., 2001). The present market costs of lipases are still the main limitation that avoids their use in large-scale processes. Thus, many scientific groups are developing several studies aiming at reducing these costs. We can highlight, among strategies being investigated, the use of aqueous solutions of lipases, which are non miscible with oils and biodiesel (Cesarini et al., 2013; Pedersen et al., 2014); immobilized enzymes used in repeated operation cycles (Calero et al., 2014; Chen et al., 2011; Noureddini et al., 2005; Poppe et al., 2013; Shimada et al., 1999; Wang et al., 2008); the development and improvement of immobilization techniques (Rodrigues et al., 2013; Silva et al., 2014); the use of new materials for immobilization in substitution of expensive commercial supports (Miranda et al., 2014); and the improvement of reaction parameters in batch and continuous reactors (Hama et al., 2013; Kawakami et al., 2011; Lee et al., 2010). The use of immobilized lipases may improve the development of commercial scale processes, favoring biotechnological processes based on their numerous advantages over the chemical process. In large-scale biodiesel production, selecting the most appropriate reactor depends on the characteristics of the reaction kinetics and conditions based on the biocatalyst, which, in turn, will define the operation mode and the flow characteristics (Castro et al., 2008). In this context, this review will discuss some important aspects involving the use of reactors applied in the enzymatic process of biodiesel synthesis, showing the present status and the future prospects of their applications. Emphasis will be given to the interactions between the lipase and the immobilization support and the efficient use of the biocatalyst in the reactors; the operation mode and settings of the enzymatic reactors; and to the analysis of the main parameters involved in the transesterification reactions. 2. Technical aspects of biodiesel The high demand for energy by the industrialized world and the recurrent environmental problems caused by the widespread use of fossil fuels are pushing the need for developments on renewable energy sources. An alternative fuel must be technically feasible,

economically competitive, environmentally acceptable, and readily available. One possible alternative to fossil fuel is the use of oils of plants or of algae origin, and animal fats for the synthesis of biodiesel (Meher et al., 2006). Biodiesel accounted for approximately 5% of the world biofuel production in 2000, and this value is continuously rising reaching, in 2011, about 20% of the total biofuel production (Geraldes et al., 2014). Several governmental policies worldwide are stimulating biofuel production by setting targets for blending quotas, and boosting the development of biofuels technologies by establishing financial and political support mechanisms (Geraldes et al., 2014). Biodiesel is miscible with petroleum-based diesel in all proportions and can be used pure or blended with diesel. These blends are often coded such as B20, which indicates the blend of 20% of volume biodiesel and 80% of volume diesel (Issariyakul and Dalai, 2014). Biodiesel is predominantly produced by transesterification reaction, which process is relatively simple and generates a fuel whose properties are similar to diesel (Dorado et al., 2003; Geris et al., 2007). The transesterification consists of a reaction between vegetable oil, or animal fat, and a primary alcohol in the presence of a catalyst, resulting in a mixture of alkyl esters of fatty acids (biodiesel) and glycerol (de Araújo et al., 2013). Excess alcohol in the reaction is necessary in order to increase the yield of esters and to promote the shifting of the reaction equilibrium towards products (Suarez et al., 2007). Another biodiesel synthesis technology has been widely reported, known as hydroesterification (Cavalcanti-Oliveira et al., 2011; de Sousa et al., 2010; Soares et al., 2013). This process occurs in two consecutive steps: the first is the hydrolysis of all glycerides (mono-, di- and triglycerides) producing free fatty acids (FFAs) and glycerol; the second one is the esterification of the FFAs by a short chain alcohol to obtain esters (biodiesel) and water. Throughout this process, glycerol is separated in the first step, therefore not being mixed with the alcohol, thus being purer than glycerol obtained by transesterification (Aguieiras et al., 2014). 2.1. Raw materials for biodiesel production The raw materials for biodiesel production are the lipid sources, mainly vegetable oils, animal fats, and, more recently, oils produced by algae (Nautiyal et al., 2014) and cyanobacteria (Karatay and Dönmez, 2011), and several types of alcohols. The vegetable oils used as lipid feedstock for biodiesel production usually depend on regional production, for instance, as in rapeseed oil in the European countries and Canada, soybean oil in the United States and Brazil, and palm oil in tropical countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Coconut oil is another lipid feedstock used for synthesis of biodiesel in coastal areas (Issariyakul and Dalai, 2014). Sources of oils such as soybean oil, palm oil, sunflower, rapeseed, coconut, and peanuts are considered as the first-generation biodiesel feedstock. However, their use leads to competition with the food industry, and may generate environmental problems such as serious destruction of vital soil resources, deforestation and the use of much of the available arable land (Atabani et al., 2012). Furthermore, the cost of raw materials accounts for 60–80% of the total cost of biodiesel production (in the alkaline rout), indicating that selecting the appropriate feedstock is of considerable importance for ensuring the economic viability of the process (Aarthy et al., 2014). The use of low-cost feedstock such as wastes of frying oil, non-edible oils such as colza, and oils extracted from other feedstocks such as yellow grease, lard, and animal fats, among others, are known as second generation biodiesel feedstock and are expected to reduce the production costs and environmental problems, making biodiesel production more commercially competitive with diesel (Christopher et al., 2014). Many types of alcohols can be used to produce biodiesel, in some cases with the need to use organic solvents. Alcohols of higher chemical chains, such as propanol and butanol, posses better oil solubility and

Please cite this article as: Poppe JK, et al, Enzymatic reactors for biodiesel synthesis: Present status and future prospects, Biotechnol Adv (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.01.011

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dispense the use of organic solvents in the reaction. Alcohols providing the best yields of biodiesel are linear, with low steric hindrance, such as methanol, ethanol, propanol, butanol, and amyl alcohol intermediates (Leung et al., 2010). These alcohols have lower activation energy, being methanol and ethanol the most frequently used, especially methanol, because of their low cost and distinct physical and chemical advantages, i.e. higher polarity and reactivity (Xiao et al., 2009). Compared to ethanol, however, methanol is more toxic, it presents higher risk of explosion and it is mainly produced from petroleum gas, a non-renewable fossil fuel. Moreover, ethanol is a renewable raw material and produces biodiesel of higher cetane number and oxidative stability, lower iodine value and better lubricity and other properties (Stamenković et al., 2011). One major drawback of ethanol is that it promotes a greater dispersion of glycerin in the formed biodiesel, which turns more difficult their purification (Lôbo et al., 2009). In cases where the enzymatic reaction occurs in an organic medium, the stepwise addition of alcohol has been proposed as a way to improve the catalytic activity of the enzyme. It is known that enzymes are often unstable in the presence of short chain alcohols, such as methanol and ethanol, so this would be a way to prevent denaturation or inhibition of the enzyme by the alcohol increasing the reaction yield (Aguieiras et al., 2014; Rodrigues et al., 2010; Royon et al., 2007). 3. Enzymatic catalysis of biodiesel Currently, the main synthetic approaches used for biodiesel production are alkaline-catalyzed and acid-catalyzed transesterification (with simultaneous esterification of free fatty acids) (Borugadda and Goud, 2012). The acid-catalyzed reaction requires longer times and a higher molar ratio of alcohol:oil. The alkaline-catalyzed reaction has some drawbacks because of the water content on the reaction, which are the inevitable production of soaps caused by saponification of free fatty acids and the hydrolysis of triglycerides into diglycerides and free fatty acids. These secondary reactions are undesirable because they consume part of the catalyst, and they make difficult the separation process and the purification of glycerol from biodiesel, reducing the yield of the reaction (Leung et al., 2010). The technical problems associated with the chemical transesterification have led to a growing interest for the enzyme-catalyzed (lipase) transesterification reaction in the last few years (Borugadda and Goud, 2012; Rodrigues et al., 2008b; Séverac et al., 2011; Shieh et al., 2003; Yan et al., 2014). The glycerol derived from the alkaline catalysis needs to be purified to remove soaps and emulsions generated during the transesterification. This procedure is generally done by ion exchange, which has a high cost and reduces the efficiency of recycling alcohol (Quintella et al., 2009). According to Van Gerpen (2005), the glycerol purity content is around 15%, which does not give a good commercial value. In enzyme catalysis, on the other hand, the glycerol produced has a high purity and higher market value, since the enzymes do not form soaps and may esterify the free fatty acids. Therefore, glycerol can be easily recovered without complex processing and the energy input to the process is lower, also with drastic reductions of waste generation (Nielsen et al., 2008). 3.1. Lipases Lipases are named as glycerol ester hydrolases (EC 3.1.1.3), enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of long chain insoluble triglyceride in aqueous media and other insoluble esters of fatty acids. In addition, lipases can catalyze the transesterification, aminolysis and synthesis of a wide range of natural and synthetic esters, while retaining high enantio or regioselectivities (Mendes et al., 2011a). Most of lipases utilized as catalysts in organic synthesis are of microbial origin such as lipases from Candida rugosa (Moreno-Pirajàn and Giraldo, 2011), Pseudomonas fluorescens (Devanesan et al., 2007), Rhizopus oryzae (Li et al., 2007), Burkholderia cepacia (Kawakami et al.,

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2011), Aspergillus niger (Xiao et al., 2011), Thermomyces lanuginosus (Fernandez-Lafuente, 2010), Rhizomucor miehei (Al-Zuhair et al., 2007; Rodrigues and Fernandez-Lafuente, 2010) and Candida antarctica (Liu et al., 2010). Lipase active site consists of three amino acid residues: a nucleophilic residue (cysteine, serine, or aspartate), an acid catalyst residue (aspartate or glutamate), and one histidine residue (Jaeger et al., 1994). A structural feature common to most lipases is the presence of a peptide sequence in α-helix covering the active site, called lid. In the absence of a solvent or hydrophobic interface, the lid prevents access of substrate to the catalytic triad, maintaining the enzyme in the closed conformation (Jaeger and Reetz, 1998). The activation of lipases in the presence of hydrophobic surfaces, a phenomenon known as interfacial activation, is an important feature of these enzymes (Derewenda et al., 1992), and gives the enzyme functionality. In Fig. 1 it is presented the general interfacial activation mechanism of lipases, showing the equilibrium of both closed and open forms. As any other enzyme, lipases have properties that make them highly required as catalysts. They are versatile and perform a variety of transformations selectively and rapidly, under mild reaction conditions that are not feasible for the chemical synthesis of biodiesel. Furthermore, lipase activities can be modulated in a relatively easy way by simply adjusting reaction conditions, for example, by the addition of inhibitors (Oliveira and Mantovani, 2009). The main advantages of using lipases, as compared to the conventional chemical reaction, are their substrate specificity and selectivity. These characteristics are controlled by the molecular properties of the enzyme, the structure of the substrate, and factors that affect the binding of the enzyme to the substrate. Because the specificity to the substrate is high, sometimes absolute, it is necessary to know the characteristics of the lipase and find the ideal substrate to be used in the reaction (Castro et al., 2004). Since oils and fats used in the reactions are of heterogeneous constitution, the combined use of lipases that show different specificities for substrates is a new strategy that has been reported to increase productivity of biocatalytic reactions. The new concept of combi-lipase biocatalyst for heterogeneous substrates was first proposed by Alves et al. (2014). The concept is based on the fact that a composed biocatalyst of a mixture of different lipases should be more effective on heterogeneous substrates than one specific lipase (Alves et al., 2014). The use of combi-lipase provided excellent results when compared to the individual use of enzymes, both in hydrolysis and transesterification reactions (Poppe et al., 2015). Considering the use of free lipases, it has been recently reported the use of new enzymes in liquid form (Callera™ Trans L) developed by Novozymes (Denmark). Reactions using this lipase preparation need to be conducted with a high water content, which leads to the formation of a second liquid phase, creating an interface that is known to activate the catalytic action of many lipases. The proportion of alcohol should be high to allow the equilibrium of the reaction to be shifted towards the synthesis of esters and not promoting hydrolysis, thus, to some extent, increasing the reaction rate. However, high alcohol content will increase the system operation costs involved in the separation of excess alcohol, and possibly causing damage to lipase (Pedersen et al., 2014). Because the main limitation for the use of lipases are still their costs and the difficulty to separate them from the reaction medium, the immobilization techniques continue to be the focus of many studies (Abdulla and Ravindra, 2013; Barbosa et al., 2011; Blanco et al., 2004; Brady and Jordaan, 2009; Fernandez-Lorente et al., 2008; Rodrigues et al., 2009). 3.2. Supports for lipase immobilization The immobilization is intended to improve the catalytic potential of the enzyme and make them insoluble to the reaction medium allowing its reuse and facilitating the recovery of products (Moreira et al., 2007). However, immobilization is not just a simple way to separate the enzyme from the reaction products. Often, the immobilization process

Please cite this article as: Poppe JK, et al, Enzymatic reactors for biodiesel synthesis: Present status and future prospects, Biotechnol Adv (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.01.011

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Fig. 1. Distinct forms of RML. The 3D structures were obtained from the Protein Data Bank (PDB) using Pymol vs. 0.99. A) Closed form (PDB-3TGL); B) Open form (PDB-4TGL).

alters enzymatic properties, producing biocatalyst with activity, specificity and enhanced stability (Hernandez et al., 2011; Rodrigues et al., 2013). Because the immobilization of enzymes involves the interaction of the enzyme and the support, the surface properties of both are therefore important. In the enzyme molecule, polar groups (e.g. amino groups on lysine and acid groups on glutamic acid), non-polar surface areas, or sugar moieties can influence the properties of its surface. Therefore, the support to be used has to be prepared in order to match either of these surface properties of the enzyme (Hanefeld et al., 2009). In selecting a support, its physical and chemical properties relevant to the immobilization process, as well as its characteristics for possible regeneration, must be thorough analyzed. A wide variety of organic, synthetic and natural inorganic materials, with different characteristics such as size, shape, porosity, hydrophobicity, and density, has been tested for the immobilization of lipases (Mendes et al., 2011b). These physical characteristics of the supports will be of major importance for the performance of the immobilized systems and will determine the type of reactor that can be used (i.e., stirred tank, fluidized or fixed beds) (Brena and Batista-Viera, 2006). In particular, parameters such as pore and particle sizes determine the total surface area and therefore critically affect the ability for binding enzymes. Non-porous substrates show some diffusion limitations and have a low bearing capacity. Therefore, porous supports are generally preferred because of their extensive surface area that allows for higher enzyme loading and the immobilized enzyme is better protected from the environment (Garcia-Galan et al., 2011; Hanefeld et al., 2009). Porous supports should have a controlled pore distribution in order to optimize the load of enzymatic capacity available to be immobilized and to show optimum flow properties (Hernandez et al., 2011; Liese and Hilterhaus, 2013). Additionally, according to Hernandez et al. (2011), supports with a very small pore diameter can have their pores blocked by the enzyme after immobilization, leaving a large percentage of their internal surfaces inaccessible to substrate. This leads to a lower immobilization rate, reducing the ability of the catalytic action of the enzyme. Another point to be considered is related to the dimensional stability of the material constituting the support, that is, whether inorganic or organic (Dalla-Vecchia et al., 2004). In spite of many advantages of inorganic supports (e.g., high stability against physical, chemical, and microbial degradation), most of the industrial applications are performed using organic matrices (Brena and Batista-Viera, 2006). The rigid structure has the advantages of non-deformation of the matrix when compressed in column-type reactors, protection of the enzyme against shear forces and collaborate in maintaining the tertiary

structure of the protein. Furthermore, a variety of reactive functional groups can be “introduced” in organic supports using chemical modifications improving the final characteristics of the enzyme (Rodrigues et al., 2008a). Immobilization techniques can be classified into four basic types: binding to the support, confinement, encapsulation, and intercrossed links (Fig. 2) (Dalla-Vecchia et al., 2004). The methods classified as “binding support” assume the binding of the enzyme to the support by means of covalent linkages, ionic or adsorption (by ionic interactions, “van der Waals” forces, hydrogen bonding, dipole–dipole interactions or hydrophobic interactions) (Hanefeld et al., 2009). Adsorption is the simplest and oldest method of enzyme immobilization on supports. Immobilization by adsorption is based on weak physical interactions between the enzyme and support (van der Waals, hydrogen bonds). Despite its simplicity, this immobilization method is limited by the tendency of desorption of the enzyme from the support and for being sensitive to medium environmental conditions such as temperature and concentration of ions (Grosova et al., 2008). Methods based on containment of the enzyme involve the polymerization of organic materials around the protein, resulting in confinement of the enzyme molecule in a physical matrix. Although a good method to maintain the conformation of the enzyme molecule, it has an important drawback that is it makes difficult the diffusion of the substrate through the pores of the support matrix (Nunes and Marty, 2006). The method of immobilization by encapsulation involves entrapping the enzyme in an insoluble gel polymer, i.e., one in which small molecules such as substrates and products are able to diffuse through the porous membrane. As an example, one of these gels involves the hydrolysis of siloxanes, which are polymerized and condensate to form a solid (Campàs and Marty, 2006). The enzyme is added to the reaction medium and is encapsulated when the gel is formed. In the immobilization by covalent bonds, the enzymes are covalently bound to the support via the functional groups on the enzyme surface, if these groups are not essential for the catalytic activity. This method provides a high binding stability and easy handling of the derivative biocatalyst, and the enzyme load remains constant throughout use (Mateo et al., 2007). Covalent bonds may also be multipoint, allowing additional stability to the immobilized enzyme. This procedure is based on the immobilization of enzymes in supports via short spacer arms, where the amino acid residues in the surface of the enzyme will be connected very close to the support, conferring a rigidity of the enzyme structure (Mateo et al., 2006). To enable covalent immobilization, the chemical activation of the support should be performed by the addition of groups such as glycidol and epichlorohydrin that preferentially react with hydroxyl groups of the support. The glutaraldehyde is a bifunctional

Please cite this article as: Poppe JK, et al, Enzymatic reactors for biodiesel synthesis: Present status and future prospects, Biotechnol Adv (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.01.011

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Fig. 2. Three basic types of immobilization techniques: binding to the support, confinement, and intercrossed links.

agent used as activation agent in immobilization techniques, which reacts with amino groups of the support (Barbosa et al., 2012). Another important feature of glutaraldehyde is its ability to adsorb hydrophobic dyes (such as rose Bengal) showing the hydrophobic character of the support (Mendes et al., 2011a). Among the immobilization supports used for lipases reported in several studies, many satisfy most requirements described, offering large areas for the enzyme-support interactions. Among them, the best appear to be: decaoctyl sepabeads, a polymethacrylate resin coated with decaoctyl groups (Palomo et al., 2002); chitosan beads (Palla et al., 2011; Ting et al., 2006); polysiloxane–polyvinyl alcohol (SiO2–PVA) hybrid matrix (da Rós et al., 2010); glyoxyl activated agarose gels (Rodrigues et al., 2008a, 2009); mesoporous carbon beads (MB) (Quirós et al., 2011); styrene–divinylbenzene beads (Hernandez et al., 2011); green coconut fiber (Brígida et al., 2008); silicate mesoporous materials (Khoobi et al., 2014); glass beads (Yilmaz et al., 2011); zeolites (de Vasconcellos et al., 2012); Fe3O4/ZnO core/shell magnetic nanoparticles (Ghasemi et al., 2014); aluminum oxide pellets (Kumar et al., 2013), and others. Another possibility of use of immobilized enzymes for biodiesel synthesis is lipase production by solid-state fermentation (SSF). In this system, the produced lipase remains naturally immobilized on the fermented solid and can be used in reactions without the need of further extraction and immobilization (Aguieiras et al., 2014; Liu et al., 2013; Salum et al., 2010; Soares et al., 2013). Using this approach, Zago et al. (2014) prepared a fermented solid of Rhizopus microsporus and applied it to the ethanolysis of corn oil to produce biodiesel. In their work, SSF was carried out using a mixture of bagasse and sunflower seed flour (1:1, mass fraction), at 44 °C for 48 h (tricaprylin-hydrolyzing activity of 183 U g− 1). A 23 factorial design was used to optimize the reaction using n-heptane as solvent.

The best conversion was 91% at 48 h, using a molar ratio of ethanol:oil of 3:1 and with the addition of 1:32 g of fermented solids/15 mL of reaction medium (Zago et al., 2014). Because of the different characteristics and chemical compositions of enzymes, different properties of the substrate, and the purpose of application of the product, there is not one universal method of immobilization applicable to all enzymes, neither one ideal support to immobilize them. For each case is necessary to choose the easiest and cheapest procedure, which results in a preparation with good activity and stability. Table 1 summarizes the results of several studies regarding the enzymatic synthesis of biodiesel developed in the last years, showing the different lipid sources, alcohols and lipases.

4. Enzymatic reactors The use of immobilized lipase facilitates the development of commercial scale processes, favoring biotechnological processes upon their numerous advantages over the chemical synthesis that these systems provide, such as increased productivity. These advantages become even more interesting when scaling-up the process, where the reactions are carried out in reactors (or bioreactors) (Deng et al., 2010). There are four configurations of enzymatic reactors described in the literature. These are the batch stirred tank reactors; the continuous stirred tank reactors; the fixed bed column reactors (in which the immobilized enzyme is packed remaining stationary while the substrate solution is pumped through it); and the fluidized bed column reactor (in which the immobilized enzyme is kept suspended by means of recycling of the substrate solution pumped through) (Guisan, 2006; Kumar et al., 2013). The last two configurations can be operated as either batch or in continuous mode, although their

Please cite this article as: Poppe JK, et al, Enzymatic reactors for biodiesel synthesis: Present status and future prospects, Biotechnol Adv (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.01.011

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Lipase

Support

Alcohol

Lipid sources

Reaction total time (h)

Process

Yield (%)

Reference

Candida rugosa lipase for hydrolysis and Candida antarctica lipase B for esterification C. antarctica lipase B — Novozym 435 C. antarctica lipase B — Novozym 435 C. antarctica lipase B — Novozym 435 Burkholderia cepacia lipase B. cepacia lipase B. cepacia lipase B. cepacia lipase Lipase extract from germinated physic nut seeds Combined lipase AK from Pseudomonas fluorescens and lipase AY from Candida rugosa Thermomyces lanuginosus lipase C. antarctica lipase B — Novozym 435 B. cepacia Rhizopus oryzae R. oryzae B. cepacia

Macroporous acrylic resin

Methanol

Acid oil

24 h

Hydroesterification

91.0%

Watanabe et al. (2007)

Macroporous acrylic resin Macroporous acrylic resin Macroporous acrylic resin SiO2–PVA SiO2–PVA Nb2O5 Nb2O5 – Accurel PE-100 — microporous polypropylene powder – Macroporous acrylic resin Silica monolith Macroporous resin (MI-ROL) Anion exchange resin (AIROL) Hydrophobic magnetic particles (HMPs) Fe3O4–SiO2

Methanol Methanol Methanol Ethanol Ethanol Ethanol Ethanol Methanol Ethanol

Sunflower oil Palm oil Soybean oil Babassu oil Tallow beef Babassu oil Tallow beef Physic nut oil Palm oil

50 h 0.5 h 15 h 48 h 48 h 48 h 48 h 4h 12 h

Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Hydroesterification Transesterification

99.0% 92.0% 97.0% 100.0% 89.7% 74.1% 40.2% 97.1% 67.0%

Ognjanovic et al. (2009) Talukder et al. (2009) Zheng et al. (2009) da Rós et al. (2010) da Rós et al. (2010) da Rós et al. (2010) da Rós et al. (2010) de Sousa et al. (2010) Tongboriboon et al. (2010)

Methanol Ethanol Methanol Methanol Methanol Methanol

Soybean oil Soybean oil Crude Jatropha oil Pistacia chinensis bge seed Pistacia chinensis bge seed Olive oil

49 h 24 h 24 h 60 h 60 h 12 h

Hydroesterification Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification

92.0% 85.0% 95.0% 92.0% 94.0% 70.0%

Cavalcanti-Oliveira et al. (2011) Rosset et al. (2011) Kawakami et al. (2011) Li et al. (2012) Li et al. (2012) Liu et al. (2012)

Methanol

288 h

Transesterification

97.3%

Tran et al. (2012)

Oleyl alcohol Methanol Methanol Ethanol

Microalgal oil produced by Chlorella vulgaris ESP-31 Palm oil Soybean oil Soybean oil Soybean soapstock acid oil

5h 72 h 72 h 31 h

Transesterification Transesterification Transesterification Hydroesterification

79.0% 93.4% 99.0% 92.0%

Basri et al. (2013) Poppe et al. (2013) Poppe et al. (2013) Soares et al. (2013)

Methanol Methanol and ethanol

Jatropha oil Oleic acid

30 h 12 h

Transesterification Transesterification

94.0% 90.0%

You et al. (2013) Miranda et al. (2014)

Methanol

Jatropha curcas

Transesterification

87.1%

Zarei et al. (2014)

Soybean oil

24 h

Transesterification

95.0%

Zhao et al. (2014)

Chitosan beads –

Blend of methanol and ethanol Methanol Ethanol

Waste frying canola oil Acid oil

24 h

Transesterification

60.0%

Aybastıer and Demir (2014)

32 h

Hydroesterification

91.0%

Aguieiras et al. (2014)

Burkholderia sp. C20 lipase T. lanuginosus (Lipozyme TL-IM) C. antarctica lipase B (Novozym 435) C. antarctica lipase Lipase from B. cepacia in the form of dry fermented solid B. cepacia T. lanuginosus R. oryzae C. antarctica lipase B — Novozym 435 C. antarctica lipase B Lipase from Rhizomucor miehei in the form of dry fermented solid From macauba pulp

Macroporous ion-exchange resin Styrene–divinylbenzene beads – Modified attapulgite Mesoporous poly-hydroxybutyrate particles Polyvinyl alcohol–alginate matrix Macroporous acrylic resin

J.K. Poppe et al. / Biotechnology Advances xxx (2014) xxx–xxx

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Table 1 Different raw materials used in the enzymatic synthesis of biodiesel by different procedures.

J.K. Poppe et al. / Biotechnology Advances xxx (2014) xxx–xxx

designs are best explored under the latter. In Fig. 3 is presented a schematic representation of the main types of reactors. The design of the enzymatic reactor requires adequate knowledge of the reaction kinetics, hydrodynamics of the system, and the mechanisms of mass transfer (Aires-Barros, 2002; Guisan, 2006). The main factors associated with the choice of the type of reactor to be used are summarized in Table 2. In the next topics it will be discussed the advantages and disadvantages of batch and continuous operation modes, and the reactor set-up used for enzymatic biodiesel synthesis. 4.1. Batch reactors Batch reactors are usually the most commonly used in processes with enzymes in solution, though immobilized enzymes are also employed. Typically, the biocatalyst particles are dispersed in the solution of substrate and the agitation is provided by mechanical stirrers. The process can be operated with the addition of all components from the start, whereas stepwise addition of methanol, in special, is recommended (da Rós et al., 2010). The reactor commonly used for biodiesel synthesis is the stirred tank reactor (STR) (Christopher et al., 2014). The batch STR is the simplest bioreactor consisting of a reactor equipped with temperature measurement devices and control, and a stirring system, usually a propeller. After completion of reaction, the solid–liquid separation is carried out by centrifugation, filtration or decantation, in order to recover the immobilized enzyme. The STR operated in batch mode has a low throughput because of the need to unload, clean and reload the reactor before the start of new batch. The low productivity disadvantage of the batch STR can be reduced by using a continuous STR where the enzyme is retained in the reactor by means of membrane technologies placed at the reactor outlet, with several configurations being possible (Christopher et al., 2014). Nevertheless, conducting batch processes offers certain operational advantages, such as the high degree of substrate dispersion; simple equipment structure and easy reaction control; (Tan et al., 2010). In addition, it is simple to collect data about the process, for example, the reaction kinetics (Mendes et al., 2011a; Nielsen et al., 2008). In some reactions where there is deactivation of the biocatalyst by product, the batch system is highly indicated. In this case, the product concentration increases with time or length of the reactor (Liese and Hilterhaus, 2013). Batch processes usually require long reaction times, thus, in order to be operated on a large scale, high-volume tanks are required. It is also important to consider the gradual loss of enzyme activity along reuses. When the enzymatic activity decreases, the reaction time needs to be

7

Table 2 Main variables involved in choosing the reactor with immobilized enzymes. Factors

Characteristics

Form of the immobilized enzyme Nature of the substrate Operational requirements of reaction Reaction kinetics

Particles, membranes, or fibers Solution, suspended solids, or colloidal Temperature control and flow Possible inhibition by substrate, product, or both Support size and presence of pores

Catalytic surface per unit volume of reactor Mass transfer Replacement of the catalyst and regeneration Construction of the bioreactor Operational cost of the bioreactor Mode of operation

Transfer characteristics of external and internal mass Operational dead time Geometry, the hydrodynamic fluid and operating conditions Energy and maintenance Batch and continuous — designed for a specific process

Castro et al. (2008); Christopher et al. (2014); Zanin and Moraes (2004).

increased to maintain a constant high degree of conversion. Along time, the production decreases and eventually is unacceptably low, and at this point the enzyme must be replaced (Nielsen et al., 2008). Batch systems have some other disadvantages for industrial scale use such as the biocatalysts are susceptible to disruption because of high shear stresses imposed by mechanical agitation (Balcão et al., 1996; Helwani et al., 2009). In order to reduce these limitations, Fadnavis et al. (2007) proposed the use of STR fitted with a porous basket. This apparatus retains the immobilized enzyme, allowing the passage of reactants and products through their pores. This reactor has the advantage of allowing a more efficient contact among reactants and biocatalyst, which increases the reaction rate and efficiency. Another advantage is that the biocatalyst is separated from the reaction mixture simply by draining the circulating liquid (Baltaru et al., 2009; Fadnavis et al., 2007). Another important factor that must be considered in batch operations is the agitation speed and the type of stirrer employed. Ognjanovic et al. (2009) explored the effect of the mode and intensity of stirring, reactor configuration, and the flow conditions on the activity and stability of the immobilized lipase. In their experiments, the batch reactor was equipped with six-bladed turbine impeller (Rushton turbine). According to the authors, this stirring system was able to improve the contact between substrates and biocatalyst and provided a good dispersion of the biocatalyst in the reaction mixture. In addition, mass

Fig. 3. Schematic representation of the main types of reactors.

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transfer was improved, whereas the reaction rate increased, and consequently the performance of the reactor. The mass transfer of triglycerides to the biocatalyst reaction sites could be a critical limiting step to the rate of the transesterification reaction because the reaction mixture is heterogeneous, consisting of two immiscible phases. Thus, the agitation intensity and the mode of agitation appear to be of particular importance for the transesterification process, because the agitation is the primary cause of enzyme deactivation in the batch STR systems (Ognjanovic et al., 2009). Batch operations can also be carried out in packed-bed reactors (PBR). Veny et al. (2014) described the use of a packed-bed reactor with circulation (CBPBR) and down-flow to be applied in enzymatic methanolysis of Jatropha curcas oil. The CBPBR allowed the repeated use of enzymes while preventing enzyme inactivation and provided acceptable mixing conditions with solid retention times. In CBPBR, the down-flow direction circulation of the reaction mixture can minimize the mass transfer limitation. Veny et al. (2014) studied the reaction kinetics, the external mass transfer, and internal diffusivity of immobilized enzyme of CBPBR, reporting low external mass transfer resistance (Damköhler number b 1), without any mass transfer limitation at a linear velocity of 6.1 cm/min in CBPBR. The internal diffusivity effect was studied with three different enzyme particle sizes with mean diameters of 398.16 μm, 558 μm, and 757.27 μm, showing no significant effects. 4.2. Continuous reactors The technology of reactions in continuous flow can be characterized by the use of a range of various configurations of tubular reactors, where the biocatalyst and the reaction medium flow through the reactor. In this case, the reaction time is determined by the flow rate and the reactor volume, characterizing the residence time (de Souza and Miranda, 2014). The continuous process can be operated for long periods under steady state condition in which the state variables remain constant over time. Processes involving immobilized enzymes would preferably be operated continuously to avoid loss of productivity. The continuous system presents direct and indirect advantages when compared to batch system: greater efficiency in the control of reaction parameters and the mixing of reagents (Zanin and Moraes, 2004); lower cost in the optimization of reaction conditions; fewer steps to scale up; greater energy efficiency; fewer unit operations during the isolation of the product (Itabaiana et al., 2013). Enzymatic reactors currently available are completely automated, so there is a strict control of temperature, flow and pressure. This monitoring is often not possible in batch conditions. Because of these characteristics, a large amount of biodiesel per volume unit can be obtained, enabling easy control of reaction conditions in terms of optimizing the quality of biodiesel (Halim et al., 2009; Wang et al., 2011). The enzymatic transesterification of vegetable oils can be carried out substantially faster and more economically in continuous reactors than in batch reactors (Wang et al., 2011), and many works focus on performing comparisons between these two processes. In all reports, the continuous reactors were considered better than batch reactors (Kawakami et al., 2011; Lee et al., 2010; Ognjanovic et al., 2009). A variety of continuous bioreactors has been proposed for lipasecatalyzed reactions. Packed-bed reactors (PBRs) (or fixed bed), which is the most common form of enzymatic reactors for continuous operation, is basically a cylindrical column holding a fixed bed of catalyst particles (support and enzyme), where the reaction medium is pumped throughout the column under a specific flow rate, which will determine the residence time (reaction time) according to the column volume (Fernandes, 2010). PBR is indicated to convert reagents to products in just one cycle, avoiding working on recycling conditions (Itabaiana et al., 2013). Supports used to immobilize the enzymes should not have sizes smaller than 0.05 mm, in order to keep the pressure drop

within reasonable limits. The range of flow rates used must be enough to provide a compromise between reasonable pressure drop, minimal diffusion layer and high conversion yield (Fernandes, 2010). These reactors have traditionally been used for most of large-scale enzymatic reactions because of their high efficiency, low cost, and ease of construction and operation (Chang et al., 2007; Halim et al., 2009; Hama et al., 2013; Séverac et al., 2011; Soares et al., 2013; Zhao et al., 2014). PBRs allow the reuse of the enzyme without a prior separation and protecting the enzyme particles from breaking down because of the low mechanical shear stress. Some disadvantages of this system, however, may be cited, as the ease of obstruction of the bed, the appearance of preferential flow paths and heat and mass transfer inefficiencies (Fernandes, 2010). Additionally, long-term operation of a PBR is still a challenge (Zhao et al., 2014). An example of PBR was used by Hermansyah et al. (2011) for biodiesel production by C. rugosa lipase immobilized on zeolite beads, using cooking oil and methyl acetate as substrates. Maximal yield was about 87.09% in 50 h (flow rate of substrate of 2 mL/h). The immobilized biocatalyst used in each experiment presented an operational stability of 40 h. After that, the biocatalyst was deactivated due to the weakening of bonds between the biocatalyst and support, and lipase was unable to bind to the substrate. The fluidized-bed reactor (FBR) is basically a variation of the packed-bed reactor, but operated only in up-flow mode, where the substrate solution is fed from the bottom of the bed at a flow rate high enough to lift the particles (Roy and Gupta, 2006). The pressure drop of the fluid flow effectively supports the weight of the bed. The reactor thus provides free movement of the catalyst particles throughout the bed. The fluidization may be carried out either by liquid or by gas (Kosseva et al., 2009). The mass transfer in FBR is better than in PBR, but the residence time necessary to fluidize the bed, mediated by the flow rates, may result in lower yields. The bed expansion during fluidization is dependent on the nature of support, the reactor design, the velocity of fluidization, and the viscosity of the feeding substrates (Fernandes, 2010). Advantages associated with FBRs are that small particles can be used because pressure drop is unaffected, and improved the mixing characteristics of the system, avoiding the formation of preferential paths, common in PBRs (Ray, 2012). However, large particles are usually required because of the low density difference between fluid and particles used in immobilized enzyme FBR systems, and the high viscosity of the fluids (Feng et al., 2013). However, in order to operate efficiently, FBR systems require lower amounts of enzyme per volume in the reactor, decreasing overall reactor efficiency. Furthermore, the major disadvantage of development of FBRs is the difficulty in scaling-up these reactors, whereas PBRs allow scale-up factors of greater than 50,000. FBRs can only be scaled up by a factor of 10 to 100 times. In addition, changes in the flow rate of the substrate stream causes unexpected effects upon the conversion rate due to complex changes in the flow pattern within these reactors (Kosseva et al., 2009). Stirred tank reactors (STR) described before for batch processes, have been used by some authors in continuous mode. In this case, it is necessary to keep the reactor being fed with a continuous supply of substrate and an equal volume of reaction mixture being withdraw, characterizing the dilution rate of the system. The project requires multiple tanks operating in series to ensure the same degree of conversion for the same reaction time. The main advantage of this design is the possibility of inserting steps of separation tanks for disposal product or byproducts with the potential to inhibit the reaction (Fig. 4) (Nielsen et al., 2008). More details about continuous operation are discussed in the following topic. 4.3. General reactor settings The performance of an enzymatic reactor depends directly and critically upon the properties of the biocatalyst employed. It is from

Please cite this article as: Poppe JK, et al, Enzymatic reactors for biodiesel synthesis: Present status and future prospects, Biotechnol Adv (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biotechadv.2015.01.011

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9

Fig. 4. Continuous stirred-tank reactor with three tanks in series.

this detailed analysis that will be determined the mode of operation and flow characteristics of the reactor. The reactor configuration also depends on possible foreseen technical problems, such as the hom*ogeneity of the reaction mixture, product solubility in alcohol, type of alcohol, the enzyme stability, enzyme recovery, diffusion limitations, and the effect of glycerol, among the most important (Castro et al., 2008; Itabaiana et al., 2013). The effect of the immobilized system is another factor for the reactor engineering, thus the choice of an optimal support for the immobilization is crucial for obtaining highly productive processes (Truppo et al., 2008). An ideal support must have high resistance to compression in operations at high flow rates PBR, frictional resistance in STR, and resistance towards settling velocity in FBR. Furthermore, for continuous operation, rigid supports with spherical and uniform particle size are often more appropriate because these particles will produce little to no variations in operational pressure, and allow good flow characteristics of the interstitial fluid (Castro et al., 2008). The thermal, operational, and mechanical stability may limit the long-term application of the biocatalyst in the process. The mechanical strength of biocatalysts must allow for the use of filtration, centrifugation, and stirring, because continuous and repeated uses sometimes require these operations. Therefore, the mechanical stability of the support is crucial for many applications of immobilized enzymes in reactors (Castro et al., 2008). Depending on the support material, the effect of mechanical stress can cause disintegration of the biocatalyst, further complicating the downstream processing (Liese and Hilterhaus, 2013). The agitation speed in STRs influence yields of reaction, because it is closely related to the mechanical stability of the support (Basri et al., 2013). Immobilized T. lanuginosus lipase on silica gel was used in the synthesis of palm oil esters (POE) via alcoholysis of palm oil (PO) and oleyl alcohol (OA) in a batch reactor. An important parameter tested was the stirring speed of the reactor, which ranged from 250–350 rpm. The conversion and system productivity were slightly enhanced increasing impeller speed up to 325 rpm, which caused substantial improvement in the specific interfacial area between the substrate and enzyme observed in the non-aqueous phase, as consequence of reduced droplet sizes. However, the yield and productivity decreased at 350 rpm (maximum tested agitation), caused by high shear and support disintegration (Basri et al., 2013). In this kind of reactor, some alternatives to enhance mass transport can also be achieved by reducing particle size to increase mass transport at a constant fluid stirring speed (Liese and Hilterhaus, 2013). 4.3.1. Mass transfer aspects in reactors Mass transport limitations can be differentiated into four separate transport steps of the reactants to and from the active enzyme site (Liese and Hilterhaus, 2013). These are the (1) the film diffusion in, which is the passage of substrate through the boundary layer (stagnant

film) around the particle surface; (2) pore diffusion in, which is the flow of substrate from the surface of the porous carrier to the active site; (3) pore diffusion out, which is the flow of product from the active site to the surface of the porous carrier; and (4) film diffusion out, which is the flow of product from the surface through the boundary layer (stagnant film) to the bulk medium. These steps are represented in Fig. 5. The mass transfer aspects of PBR were studied by some authors, presenting general theoretical mathematical approaches to elucidate these aspects. Immobilized C. rugosa lipase in acid-washed activated glass beads was used in continuous-operated PBR to evaluate the effects of fluid flow rate and different feed substrate concentrations on the hydrolysis of rice bran oil (Murty et al., 2005). After a theoretical study of differential equations for the tubular reactor, based on the analysis of the height of the packed-bed, the superficial velocity and substrate concentrations throughout the reactor (Eq. (1)), it was possible to estimate the mass transfer coefficients and to identify the limiting diffusion and reaction regions: h¼

Z −vS kl a

cS F cS0

1 dc ðcS −cS Þ S

ð1Þ

where h is the height of the packed-bed with immobilized lipase (m); vS is the superficial velocity (m/s); kla is the global mass transfer coefficient (1/s); cSF is the substrate concentration at the outlet of the reactor (kmol/m3); cSo is the feed substrate concentration (kmol/m3); and cS⁎ is the interfacial substrate concentration (kmol/m3) (Murty et al., 2005). The global mass transfer coefficient (k l a) increased with flow rates and is more sensitive at higher velocities, above 2.8 cm/min. Furthermore, feed substrate concentration seems to affect kla less significantly compared to the flow rates. The data were represented in dimensionless Eadie–Hofstee plot (Fig. 6) in which R (dimensionless rate) was plotted against R/cBb with Damköhler number as the parameter (Eqs. (2) and (3), respectively): R¼

γ cB ¼ γ1 max ð1 þ cB Þ

cB ¼

−ð1 þ Da−cBb Þ þ

ð2Þ qffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffiffi ð1 þ Da−cBb Þ2 þ 4 cBb 2

ð3Þ

where γ−1max is the apparent maximum reaction rate (kmol/m3 × s); cB⁎ is the dimensionless interfacial concentration; and Da is the Damköhler number. The dimensionless rate R is evaluated using Eq. (2), in which cB⁎ is the dimensionless interfacial concentration, which varies from bottom to top of the packed bed reactor. The interfacial concentration in

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Fig. 5. Four steps of mass transfer limitations: 1) Film diffusion in: substrate passing through the boundary layer close to the surface; 2) pore diffusion in: substrate passing from the surface of the porous support to the active site; 3) pore diffusion out: product passing from the active site to the surface of the porous support; 4) film diffusion out: product passing from the surface through the boundary layer to the bulk medium. (a: porous support; b: boundary layer (stagnant film); c: liquid phase).

dimensionless form can be obtained as Eq. (3) and used for calculation of R at a particular velocity or Damköhler number. Damköhler number can be used to assess the controlling region and the extent of mass transfer difficulty in the reactions. When mass

Fig. 6. Dimensionless Eadie–Hofstee plot with Damköhler number as the parameter. Adapted from Murty et al. (2005).

transfer coefficient (kl) is very large or Da is very small, the diffusional rate is very fast compared to the surface reaction and the system is governed by the kinetics. When the situation inverts, the concentration difference in the film is very steep and the system is governed by diffusion control (Murty et al., 2005). Summarizing, a linear plot at low Damköhler number indicates kinetic control and plots at higher values indicate various degrees of diffusion control (Fig. 6). The effects of many parameters of reaction including the mass transfer influences were evaluated during the ethanolysis of waste cooking oil (cottonseed) in batch reactors catalyzed by C. antarctica immobilized-lipase on macroporous acrylic resin (Novozym 435) (Chesterfield et al., 2012). In order to neglect the external resistance in the interfacial layer oil–ethanol, the reactor agitation speed was kept at 1200 rpm. It was observed that the limiting step that controls the reaction rate is dependent on both intra-particle diffusion and surface reaction. Thus, to delineate the influence of the intra-particle diffusion on the reaction rate, different particle sizes of the biocatalyst (100–800 μm) were evaluated. Results showed that the size of the particles was a strong factor influencing the initial reaction rate, being indicated as optimal size of support around 400 μm. During the immersion in the mixture of oil and ethanol, the solid particles of immobilized lipase undergone swelling, which changes the pore structure, causing an apparent effect of pore diffusion (Chesterfield et al., 2012). Therefore, particle size must be the right size to enable an easy design of the reactor and to prevent serious mass transfer restrictions (Fernández et al., 2013). In view of applicability, the particle diameter of biocatalysts to be used in PBRs, should ideally be between 200 and 400 μm to ensure

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low backpressures. For applications in STRs, the diameter can be reduced to ≥ 10 μm, enabling separation by filtration or sedimentation (Liese and Hilterhaus, 2013). Research evaluating the effects of external mass transfer (film diffusion) has also been extensively reported. In most cases, the primary evaluation parameter is the speed of agitation (batch reactors), and flow rates (continuous reactors) (Fjerbaek et al., 2009). In continuous reactors, the substrate flow rate is of fundamental importance: if it is too high, the contact time between substrate and lipase will be too short and the reaction will be incomplete; if it is too low, the throughput of the reactor will be small (Nie et al., 2006). The continuous methanolysis of olive oil was carried out using Candida sp. lipase immobilized on cotton membranes in a PBR with three columns. Flow rates varying from 12 to 40 L/h were tested, data showing that conversion to methyl esters decreased with increasing flow rates. The operational stability of the immobilized lipase was over 500 h and yields varied from 25% to 35% (Nie et al., 2006). Reaction parameters affecting enzymatic transesterification catalyzed by Novozym 435 of waste cooking palm oil with methanol using tert-butanol as solvent in a continuously PBR were evaluated by Halim et al. (2009). The mass transfer effects have been studied by varying the flow rate and the packed-bed height, and a model of mass transfer has been developed. The height of the packed-bed ranged from 4.76 cm to 14 cm, and the substrate flow rate from 0.18 to 1.02 mL/min. The methyl esters of fatty acid (FAME) yield increased initially when there was an increase of substrate flow rate and packed-bed height, the maximum FAME yield of 80% being achieved at 12 cm packed-bed height and substrate flow rate of 0.55 mL/min. At lower flow rates, low yields of FAME were obtained caused by mass transfer resistance at liquid film layer. However, at very high flow rates (0.9 to 1.02 mL/min) the substrate only passed through the enzyme without interacting with it (Halim et al., 2009). The residence time is an important information on operating reactors allowing to diagnose flow problems such as the existence of zones of stagnant fluid or dead zones; extreme short circuitry and fluid sub-passage; existence of channeling; axial dispersion in tubular reactors; and segregation, resulting from the mixing conditions in the reactor. STR batch reactors, being thoroughly mixed, have a residence time very different from reactors operated continuously. Thus, the residence time displayed for a given reactor provides clear evidence of the kind of mixture that occurs within, and is one of the most informative ways to characterize the reactor (Fogler, 2005). The residence time (t) can be calculated according to Eq. (4): t¼

L ε vs

the reaction mixture through a single column to simulate the effects of continuous production in a series of columns. Two immobilized lipases, those from T. lanuginosus (NS 88001) and Novozym 435, were used as catalysts for transesterification (first stage) and esterification (second stage), respectively. For transesterification, a mixture of rapeseed oil and ethanol was pumped into the reactor in a down-flow by a peristaltic pump at a flow rate of 0.14–6 mL/min. After all the reaction mixture passed through the column, glycerol was separated and additional oil was pumped through. This procedure was repeated until equilibrium conversion was reached. For esterification, either Novozym 435 or NS 88001 was packed into a column of about 22 cm long. The esterification reaction was carried out in multiple steps of a single pass through the column. The substrate was supplied by a peristaltic pump in downflow through the column in a single pass at a fixed flow rate of 1.0 mL/min. In this way, the effects of flow and reaction rate (defined as mass-% of FAEE formed per residence time) were evaluated and an optimal superficial velocity (the corresponding Reynolds numbers based on the starting reaction condition) for conversion in a single pass was found to be around 1 cm/min for transesterification reaction. However, the reaction rate increased almost linearly with increasing velocity, and this can be explained by an improved mass transfer at high flow velocities even though the Reynolds number, calculated by the authors, indicated laminar flow (Re b 10) at all tested velocities. Therefore, high velocities were used in the subsequent experiments because the limited residence time could be overcome by increasing the number of passes of the reaction mixture through the column. At flow velocity of 7.6 cm/min, 92.8% of FAEE was obtained after the reaction mixture had passed 20 times through the reactor. The pressure drop was 1.1 bar at 7.6 cm/min and therefore higher flow rates were not tested due to limitations in the experimental set-up. The calculation of the pressure drop was established according to Darcy's law, which is based on empirical observations. For a laminar flow through a column packed with porous support, the term is given by Eq. (5). ΔP ¼

μ L vS β

ð5Þ

where ΔP is the pressure drop, L is the length of the column, and β is the permeability of the porous support, related to the porosity of the bed and the size of the packing particles. The Reynolds number (Re) for flow through a packed-bed of identical and spherical porous particles is defined by Eq. (6):

ð4Þ

where L is the length of the catalyst bed, vs is the superficial velocity of the fluid (volumetric flow rate divided by the cross-sectional area of the bed), and ε is the void fraction of the bed. Several studies focused on further examining the effect of residence time in enzymatic reactors. Hermansyah et al. (2011) investigated the biodiesel synthesis from waste cooking oil using immobilized C. rugosa lipase as a biocatalyst in a PBR system and methyl acetate. The relationship between residence time and the conversion was evaluated to determine the flow rate of substrate needed to produce an optimal biodiesel conversion. The experiments were conducted with four levels of flow rate: 1, 2, 4, and 5 mL/h, and the residence time was noted for each flow rate. Highest biodiesel conversion (71.47%) was obtained at flow rate of 1 mL/h or residence time of 5.5 h, and the lowest conversion (38.79%) was obtained at highest flow rate (5 mL/h) and residence time of 1 h. According to these authors, the concentration of biodiesel formed is directly proportional to the increased residence time in the reactor, i.e., prolonged contact between the substrate and the biocatalyst creates a strong catalytic reaction (Hermansyah et al., 2011). Xu et al. (2012) developed a two-stage enzymatic process for the production of ethyl esters of fatty acids (FAEE) on a PBR, passing repeatedly

11

Re ¼

ρ vS d S μ ð1−εÞ

ð6Þ

Where, ρ is the fluid density, μ is the fluid viscosity, and ds is the diameter of the spherical particles. The effect of loading of biocatalyst in a PBR for transesterification has also been studied concerning the length of biocatalyst bed. As expected, reaction rates in longer bed lengths are generally found to be higher than those obtained in shorter length columns. This occurs because of decreased viscosity of the reaction mixture, which is explained by the production of FAEEs and partial glycerides in the first part of the bed, thus, allowing better mass transfer and considerably increasing the reaction yields (Xu et al., 2012). Furthermore, more active sites are available to promote the reaction between oil and alcohol at a given flow rate (Feng et al., 2011). The use of reactors in series, in order to optimize conversion yields, is another aspect of research concern. Wang et al. (2011) evaluated continuous methanolysis using a battery of four columns packed with immobilized P. cepacia lipase on magnetized Fe3O4 nanoparticles, and this process was compared to using a single reactor. The maximum conversion rate of 75% of biodiesel was obtained in the single PBR at 12 h, followed by reaction equilibrium phase lasting 132 h approximately.

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After 240 h, the conversion rate decreased to only 45%. In contrast, the conversion rate and stability achieved using the four PBRs were kept over 88% for 192 h, and after 240 h of operation, the conversion rate slightly dropped to approximately 75%. The authors attributed that the differences occurred because the four-packed-bed reactor provided a longer residence time and reduced the inhibition of the lipasenanoparticle biocomposite by products, which may have further improved the reaction efficiency (Wang et al., 2011). Owing to mass transfer limitations, PBRs do not seem to be appropriated for solvent-free enzymatic FAME production (Fjerbaek et al., 2009). The high viscosity of solvent-free systems causes the pressure drop to become significant. In order to minimize the pressure drop, PBRs need to operate at low flow rates, and the size of carrier must be increased or solvent must be added. With increasing support particle diameter, the pressure drop decreases improving the mass transfer rate, which can affect the overall reaction rate (Nigam et al., 2014). With all such limitations, the use of solvents becomes strongly indicated. 4.4. Use of solvents in reactors The use of organic solvents has several purposes, including: ensuring hom*ogeneous reaction mixture; avoid problems of formation of two phases in the reaction; reducing the viscosity of the reaction mixture to increase the rate of diffusion, thus reducing the problems of mass transfer around the enzyme; and improve the stability of the enzyme and accelerate the acyl migration (Fjerbaek et al., 2009; Rodrigues et al., 2010). Furthermore, according to some authors, organic solvents could possibly eliminate the need for stepwise addition of alcohols (Antczak et al., 2009). One open discussion concerning the use of solvents remains, which is the most adequate organic solvent for lipase-catalyzed reactions. Until recently, non-polar solvents (log P N 4) were reported to be the best choices for these reactions because of enzyme higher activities in relatively hydrophobic organic solvents. The log P value is generally used to correlate solvent polarity with enzyme activity and stability in non-aqueous phases, but correlations between a simple parameter, such as solvent log P, and a complex factor as enzyme denaturation might be difficult to predict (Laane et al., 1987). Organic solvents such as hexane, petroleum ether, and tert-butanol have been widely used (Christopher et al., 2014). Li et al. (2010) observed the effects of solvents by studying the methanolysis of oil of stillingia species catalyzed by Novozym 435 and Lipozyme TL-IM in the presence of organic solvents of different polarities in a batch reactor. The authors reported the best results using solvents whose log P values were in the range of 1.4 to 1.52, such as tert-butanol, acetonitrile, tert-pentanol, tetrahydrofuran, and 1,4-dioxane. Lower yields were obtained with the use of more hydrophobic solvents (log P N 2.0), such as n-hexane and nheptane. These results showed that polar solvents are more efficient to dissolve methanol, avoiding denaturation of the lipase. Among the mentioned solvents, tert-butanol has been reported as producing the best results with most vegetable oils and a wide range of lipases (Aybastıer and Demir, 2014; Chen et al., 2011; Yan et al., 2014). Because of its branched chain of three methyl groups, tert-butanol has a steric hindrance, preventing the formation of tert-butyl esters. Furthermore, this solvent has a characteristic, not entirely understood, of preserving lipase activity from denaturation caused by glycerol (Azócar et al., 2014). The presence of glycerol directly affects the reaction efficiency because it adheres to the surface of the enzyme forming a hydrophilic layer and hindering the mass transfer of hydrophobic substrates, leading to a decrease in yield (Chattopadhyay et al., 2011). The negative effects of glycerol were studied by Li et al. (2006), who investigated the methanolysis of rapeseed oil in the presence of tert-butanol using Lipozyme TL IM and Novozym 435. According to the authors, glycerol was well dissolved on the solvent that prevented the formation of film layer on the biocatalyst. The

solvent increased the operational stability of both lipases, eliminating the negative effects caused by excessive methanol and glycerol (Li et al., 2006). On the other hand, the use of solvents should be avoided because of their toxicity and flammability, damaging effects on the environment and consequent requirement for solvent removal and reuse, increasing production costs (Aires-Barros, 2002). Recently, other types of solvents such as supercritical carbon dioxide (Lee et al., 2011; Lozano et al., 2011) and ionic liquids (IL) (Lin et al., 2013; Mohammad et al., 2012) have also been used for enzymatic transesterification processes. Ionic liquids proved to be excellent substitutes to traditional organic solvents, having the possibility of shaping the IL according to the needs of the reaction. Gamba et al. (2008) conducted the methanolysis of soybean oil using immobilized P. cepacia lipase in the presence of IL 1-n-butyl3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (6 g of enzyme was supported on 24 mL of IL). The reaction could be performed at room temperature, in 24 h, in the presence of water and without the use of other organic solvents, with up to 96% yields under the best conditions. The biodiesel was separated by a simple decantation and the recovered ionic liquid/enzyme catalytic system could be reused for at least four batches without any loss of catalytic activity and selectivity. 4.5. Current context in the industrial enzymatic production of biodiesel Although lipases as biocatalysts provide advantages in the synthesis of biodiesel, industrial application of the technology remains low. Two Chinese companies have established biodiesel production using enzymatic catalysis. Hunan Rivers Bioengineering Co. Ltd. (Hunan, China), which uses technology developed by Tsinghua University using Novozym 435 lipase in STRs, has a designed capacity of 20,000 t per year. The second company, Lvming and Environmental Protection Technology Co. Ltd. (Shanghai, China), which uses spent frying oil as substrates in STRs using technology developed by the University of Chemical Technology, Beijing, has a production line capacity of 10,000 t per year of biodiesel. In this second plant, the lipase of Candida sp. 99–125 is used as biocatalyst, with a cost of 32.6 US$/t biodiesel, obtaining yields of FAMEs of up to 90% under optimal conditions (Tan et al., 2010). In 2008, the biotechnology company Novozymes (Denmark) started collaboration with Piedmont Biofuels in Pittsboro, North Carolina, USA. The objectives of the project were to find a lipase with a selling price low enough to compete in the chemical biodiesel market and to try to develop the enzymatic biodiesel process in pilot or production scale (Nielsen, 2014). The results led to the a patent application in 2012, which describes the basis for the BioFAME® process utilizing liquid-formulated lipases as a catalyst and includes the reuse of the enzyme (Patent WO2012/098114, 2012) (Nielsen, 2012). In the first quarter of 2014, both Blue Sun Biodiesel in St. Joseph, Missouri, USA, and Vieselfuel LLC in Stuart, Florida, USA, have announced the full-scale production of biodiesel based on lipase as catalyst. Novozymes has been the enzyme supplier and partner to accomplish full-scale production. According to Steve Bond, the company's business manager, Blue Sun produces 100% enzymatic synthesis biodiesel on a large scale (30 million gal per year), with production costs of US$ 75 to 80 cents per gallon (Scherer, 2014). Process simulation and economical evaluation of enzymatic biodiesel production plant was conducted by Sotoft et al. (2010), where several scenarios have been investigated with different production scales (8 to 200 million kg biodiesel/year) and enzyme prices (current price US$ 968.60/kg enzyme; future prices projected to US$ 9.69/kg enzyme). The process was modeled based on the use of methanol, high quality rapeseed oil, and with or without the use of solvents. Simulations with methanol and solvent-free/co-solvent

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operations were carried out to investigate how this affect the enzyme performance and process design and to elucidate what effect it has on the process economy. On the simulations, the solvent-free process is viable for scale productions of 200,000 kg biodiesel/y under current enzyme prices (50% of the total process costs) For co-solvent operation, oil represents 73% of costs, whereas enzymes costs drops to 22% of process. The continuous operation was the only realistic option with stepwise addition of methanol. Biodiesel could be produced with enzymes and co-solvent to a final market price of US$ 1.90 to 3.02/kg biodiesel. 5. Concluding remarks In order to reduce the generation of waste, environmental impacts, and improve the processes of biodiesel production, the enzymatic catalysis has been extensively studied and developed by various authors and companies. As reported in this review, several microbial lipases have been used as biocatalysts, immobilized in a variety of supports in numerous configurations of reactors. Reported studies involved reactions with a wide range of fats and oils as substrates, and ethanol and methanol as acyl acceptors. In some cases, it was reported the gradual addition of alcohols, and the use of solvents in the reaction, which is often strongly indicated. The analysis of the reaction parameters aimed at assisting the choice of the most suitable process for a given reactor. It is important to note that this choice is strongly influenced by the type of support used in the immobilization of lipase, the substrate and the presence or absence of solvent in the reaction. In the case of reactions involving continuous flow reactors, many authors have reported a high stability of the immobilized enzyme, and some reactors were able to operate continuously for many days. In addition, the shear stress over the immobilized system is smaller in this type of operation due to the absence of mechanical agitation. For packed-bed reactors, it is strongly suggested that the immobilized preparation presents sizes over than 0.05 mm, in order to keep the pressure drop within reasonable limits. For fluidized-bed reactor, smaller particles could be used, although bigger particles are usually required to support differences in the density of solid and liquid phases. For processes involving batch system in STR, the immobilized preparations are susceptible to breakage caused by high shear stresses imposed by the mechanical agitation (especially when inorganic matrices are used). Therefore, for the applications of these types of reactors, it is recommended the use of supports with particle diameters N 10 μm to reduce this inconvenience, and be easily filtered at the end of the process. When studying new methods to improve processes already widely established, or even to develop a completely new protocol, the general aim is to reach industrial scales. Specifically addressing the biodiesel industry, the enzymatic production of this biofuel is already a reality in some refineries. However, it is still necessary to improve existing techniques, and develop new methodologies, to increase its synthesis. Numerous strategies to reduce the economic impacts are studied, such as immobilization of enzymes, reuse of biocatalyst, the correct reactor configuration, the use of alternative substrates, among others. Thus, it is expected that very soon the enzymatic technology can be expanded to a larger number of research centers and refineries. Acknowledgments This work was supported by grants from Brazilian Coordenação de Aperfoiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). References Aarthy M, Saravanan P, Gowthaman MK, Rose C, Kamini NR. Enzymatic transesterification for production of biodiesel using yeast lipases: an overview. Chem Eng Res Des 2014; 92(8):1591–601.

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