• Esterification;
  • medium-chain triacylglycerols;
  • Novozyme 435;
  • response surface methodology;
  • central composite rotatable design


Optimization of lipase-catalyzed esterification for the production of medium-chain triacylglycerols (MCT) from palm kernel oil distillate and glycerol was carried out in order to determine the factors that have significant effects on the reaction system and MCT yield. Novozyme 435 from Candida antarctica lipase was found to have the highest activity at 52.87 ± 0.03 U/g. This lipase also produced the highest MCT yield, which is 56.67%. The effect of different variables on MCT synthesis was studied with a two-level five-factor fractional factorial design. The various variables include (1) reaction temperature, (2) enzyme load, (3) molecular sieves concentration, (4) reaction time and (5) molar substrate ratio. Reaction temperature, reaction time and molar substrate ratio strongly affect MCT synthesis (p <0.05). However, enzyme load and molecular sieve concentration did not have a significant (p >0.05) influence on MCT yield. Therefore, the significant variables such as reaction temperature, reaction time and molar substrate ratio were further optimized through central composite rotatable design (CCRD). Comparisons between predicted and experimental values from the CCRD optimization procedures revealed good correlation, implying that the quadric response model satisfactorily expressed the percentage yield of MCT in the lipase-catalyzed esterification. The optimum MCT yield is 73.3% by using 2 wt-% enzyme dosage, a molecular sieves concentration of 1 wt-%, a reaction temperature of 90 °C, a reaction time of 10 h and a molar substrate ratio of 4 : 1 (medium-chain fatty acid/glycerol). Experiments to confirm the predicted results using the optimal parameters were conducted and an MCT yield of 70.21 ± 0.18% (n = 3) was obtained.