Mass transfer studies on the solvent-free lipase-catalyzed partial hydrolysis of palm oil in packed-bed reactor

E. T. Phuah, O. M. Lai, T. K. Tang, Y. Y. Lee, T. S.Y. Choong, Chin Ping Tan, S. P. Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Packed-bed reactor (PBR) is widely employed for enzyme-mediated reactions at an industrial scale because the reactor configuration enables reusability of the biocatalyst with ease, thereby reducing the overall operating expenses. However, mass transfer limitation remains a key challenge in fixed-bed column systems, especially at large scale. Therefore, the present study investigated the external mass transfer effects on solvent-free lipase-catalyzed partial hydrolysis reaction and aimed to develop a mass transfer model for the operation. The influence of volumetric flow rate, one of the crucial operating parameters affecting the external mass transfer resistance, was examined. Results demonstrated increasing the flow rate led to an increase in hydrolysis reaction with the highest reaction rate observed at 5 ml min-1. A dimensionless mathematical mass transfer model of Colburn factor, JD = K(Re)n-1 which is a function of Reynolds and Schmidt numbers, was then proposed to simulate the enzymatic partial hydrolysis reaction of palm oil in PBR. The mass transfer model was analyzed with different n values and results revealed that the mass transfer correlation of JD=0.92(Re)-0.2 was able to predict the experimental data accurately. The model developed could describe the dominance of mass transfer effects besides providing useful information for the scale-up design of industrial reactor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-313
Number of pages8
JournalFood Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Lipase
  • Mass transfer model
  • Packed bed reactor
  • Palm oil
  • Partial hydrolysis

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