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Continuous production of l(+)-tartaric acid from cis-epoxysuccinate using a membrane recycle reactor


The one-step bioconversion of cis-epoxysuccinate (CES) to l(+)-tartaric acid by dried Rhodococcus rhodochrous cells containing CES hydrolase activity was studied by using a continuous bioconversion process. The influence of the pH and the temperature was assessed. A mathematical model was used to quantify the CES hydrolase activity and stability. The optimal pH, which resulted in a maximal CES hydrolase activity and stability, was pH 8.0. A large increase in stability (half-life time) could be obtained when the temperature was decreased from 37 to 14°C during the continuous bioconversion. A total bioconversion was maintained for more than 100 days. This resulted in a large value for the specific productivity since the effect of the large increase in stability was much more important than the decrease of activity at the lower temperature. This continuous bioconversion process was further optimised by calculating the productivity for several continuously stirred tank reactors in series. The specific productivity could be nearly doubled when the number of reactors in the series was increased from 1 to 4.

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The authors acknowledge financial support from the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT, Brussels, Belgium), the Research Council of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Puratos NV.

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Correspondence to Ronnie Willaert.

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Willaert, R., De Vuyst, L. Continuous production of l(+)-tartaric acid from cis-epoxysuccinate using a membrane recycle reactor. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 71, 155–163 (2006).

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  • Tartaric Acid
  • Membrane Module
  • Epoxide Hydrolase
  • Initial Substrate Concentration
  • Effluent Flow Rate