A "non-support bioreactor", a novel column reactor packed with a free non-supported enzyme was constructed by applying the insolubility of the enzyme in organic solvents. Stereoselective esterification of 2-(4-chlorophenoxy)propanoic acid by lipase OF 360 from Candida cylindracea with n-tetradecanol was selected as a model reaction. Non-supported lipase revealed threefold higher activity than Celite-adsorbed lipase by maintaining high stereoselectivity in a batch reaction. In continuous operation, a non-support bioreactor produced the ester with fourfold higher productivity to that of a column reactor packed with Celite-adsorbed lipase (an adsorbed bioreactor). However, the optical purity of the remaining (S)-acid was low even when the conversion ration was kept at approximately 50%. Lipase recovered from the non-support bioreactor after continuous operation retained the original stereoselectivity in a batch reaction. Therefore, semi-continuous operation was conducted by recycling the substrate solution at a high flow rate. The non-support reactor showed high stereoselectivity and ten times the productivity compared with the adsorbed bioreactor. The reason for this high performance is discussed.
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