Glycerol-3-phosphate (G3P) was synthesized from glycerol using glycerol kinase (GK). This reaction requires adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and was coupled with the ATP regeneration reaction using acetate kinase (AK) in a batch-operated ultrafiltration hollow-fiber reactor. By taking into consideration the dynamic nature of the bioreactor performance under non–steady-state conditions, a model for the performance of a batch membrane reactor for G3P synthesis coupled with ATP regeneration was developed and studied. The simulation results showed good agreement with the experimental results. The simulation studies have provided some insight into the process dynamics of the coupled reactions in the reactor system studied. For the reactor operational model used, in which the enzymes are retained in the shell side and the substrates are also initially placed in the shell side, it was found that the substrate concentration in the lumen side increased to a level higher than that in the shell side, and a backdiffusion occurred from the lumen side to the shell side during reactor operation. The ratio of the reaction rate to diffusion rate goes through a sharp peak during the time that the direction of diffusion is reversed. For another reactor operational model, in which the substrates were initially placed in the lumen side and enzymes were retained in the shell side, it was found that the rate-controlling step between the reaction and diffusion was switched during the reactor operation. Initially, the reaction rate increased while the diffusion rate was high and the substrate concentrations increased in the shell side. The ratio of reaction rate to diffusion rate increased to a maximum and remained at a constant level as the diffusion rate decreased to a low level due to the nonlinear characteristics of mass transfer process. This study provides information that is useful for optimization of batch membrane enzyme reactor operation and for a fed-batch-type process with an intermittent feeding strategy for efficient use of substrates. © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Biotechnol Bioeng 74: 326–334, 2001.
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