Although enzymes are efficient catalysts capable of converting various substrates into desired products with high specificity under mild conditions, their effectiveness as catalysts is substantially reduced when substrates are poorly water-soluble. In this study, to expedite the enzymatic conversion of a hydrophobic substrate, we use a bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gel (bijel) which provides large interfacial area between two immiscible liquids: oil and water. Using lipase-catalyzed hydrolysis of tributyrin as a model reaction in a batch mode, we show that bijels can be used as media to enable enzymatic reaction. The bijel system gives a four-fold increase in the initial reaction rate in comparison to a stirred biphasic medium. Our results demonstrate that bijels are powerful biphasic reaction media to accelerate enzymatic reactions with various hydrophobic reagents. This work also demonstrates that bijels can potentially be used as reaction media to enable continuous reactive separations.
Cha, S., Lim, H.G., Haase, M.F. et al. Bicontinuous Interfacially Jammed Emulsion Gels (bijels) as Media for Enabling Enzymatic Reactive Separation of a Highly Water Insoluble Substrate. Sci Rep 9, 6363 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41598-019-42769-8
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