This work deals with the downstream processing of lipase (EC 126.96.36.199, from Aspergillus niger) using liquid emulsion membrane (LEM) containing reverse micelles for the first time. The membrane phase consisted of surfactants [cetyltrimethylammonium bromide (CTAB) and Span 80] and cosolvents (isooctane and paraffin light oil). The various process parameters for the extraction of lipase from aqueous feed were optimized to maximize activity recovery and purification fold. The mechanism of lipase transport through LEM consisted of three steps namely solubilization of lipase in reverse micelles, transportation of reverse micelles loaded with lipase through the liquid membrane, and release of the lipase into internal aqueous phase. The results showed that the optimum conditions for activity recovery (78.6%) and purification (3.14-fold) were feed phase ionic strength 0.10 M NaCl and pH 9.0, surfactants concentration (Span 80 0.18 M and CTAB 0.1 M), volume ratio of organic phase to internal aqueous phase 0.9, ratio of membrane emulsion to feed volume 1.0, internal aqueous phase concentration 1.0 M KCl and pH 7.0, stirring speed 450 rpm, and contact time 15 min. This work indicated the feasibility of LEM for the downstream processing of lipase. © 2012 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol. Prog., 2012
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