Biocatalysis for the Production of Emollient Esters

The biocatalytic production of chemicals offers intrinsic properties. Commonly mentioned attributes are unusually high selectivity and operation under milder conditions. Recently the sustainability of biocatalytic processes for the production of cosmetic ingredients, in particular emollient esters has been quantified [30] . The frequently used emollient ester, myristyl myristate, was used as a model study.

An enzymatic production system using immobilized Lipase B from C. antartica under real industrial conditions (Evonik Goldschmidt site) including recycling of the enzyme until deactivation was compared with a state-of-the-art conventional process based on tin(II) oxalate as a catalyst at 240 °C for the synthesis of cosmetic esters [30]. The in-depth analysis revealed (based on a 5 ton production scale), that the global warming potential for the conventional system is 1.5 tonCO2eq, whereas the enzymatic system enables a reduction of 62% down to 0.5 tonCO2eq. While not mentioned this assessment gives an overall stance for the wide spread assumption that enzymatic catalyzed processes provide environmental benefits.

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