Performance of an enzymatic packed bed reactor running on babassu oil to yield fatty ethyl esters (FAEE) in a solvent-free system

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Engineering School of Lorena, University of São Paulo Estrada Municipal do Campinho s/n, 12602-810 Lorena, São Paulo, Brazil.

2 State University of Maringa, Department of Chemical Engineering, Av. Colombo 5790, E-46, 87020-900, Maringa – PR, Brazil.


The transesterification reaction of babassu oil with ethanol mediated by Burkholderia cepacia lipase immobilized on SiO2-PVA composite was assessed in a packed bed reactor running in the continuous mode. Experiments were performed in a solvent-free system at 50 °C. The performance of the reactor (14 mm ×210 mm) was evaluated using babassu oil and ethanol at two molar ratios of 1:7 and 1:12, respectively, and operational limits in terms of substrate flow rate were determined. The system’s performance was quantified for different flow rates corresponding to space times between 7 and 13 h. Under each condition, the impact of the space time on the ethyl esters formation, the transesterification yield and productivity were determined. The oil to ethanol molar ratio was found as a critical parameter in the conversion of babassu oil into the correspondent ethyl esters. The highest transesterification yield of 96.0 ± 0.9% and productivity of 41.1 ± 1.6 mgester gcatalyst-1h-1 were achieved at the oil to ethanol molar ratio of 1:12 and for space times equal or higher than 11 h. Moreover, the immobilized lipase was found stable with respect to its catalytic characteristics, exhibiting a half-life of 32 d.

Graphical Abstract

Performance of an enzymatic packed bed reactor running on babassu oil to yield fatty ethyl esters (FAEE) in a solvent-free system


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