Oxidative degradation of phenolic environmental pollutants in organic media was investigated using a laccase complexed with surfactants. The catalytic activity of the surfactant-laccase complex in isooctane was markedly enhanced by appropriately adjusting the water content of the reaction medium using reverse micelles. The surfactant-laccase complex showed little activity towards the oxidative reaction of bisphenol A in water-saturated isooctane (i.e., 0.0055% [v/v] water) while effectively catalyzed the same reaction in isooctane containing 4% (v/v) water, which is over the maximum water solubility. The latter system was homogeneous and was only achieved by the aid of reverse micelles. With respect to the oxidation of bisphenol A, two products, 4-isopropylphenol and 4-isopropenylphenol, were identified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses, indicating the oxidative degradation of the bis-phenolic structure of bis-phenol A. We also found that the surfactant-laccase complex turned out to handle other environmental pollutants, chlorophenols, by the simultaneous addition of water and a redox mediator into the reaction medium using reverse micelles.
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