Effects of methanol on lipases: Molecular, kinetic and process issues in the production of biodiesel

M. Lotti, J. Pleiss, F. Valero, P. Ferrer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim. The biotechnological production of biodiesel is based on transesterification/esterification reactions between a source of fatty acids and a short-chain alcohol, usually methanol, catalysed by enzymes belonging to the class known as lipases. Several lipases used in industrial processes, although stable in the presence of other organic solvents, are inactivated by methanol at or below the concentration optimal for biodiesel production, making it necessary to use stepwise methanol feeding or pre-treatment of the enzyme. In this review article we focus on what is currently know about methanol inactivation of lipases, a phenomenon which is not common to all lipase enzymes, with the goal of improving the biocatalytic process. We suggest that different mechanisms can lead to inactivation of different lipases, in particular substrate inhibition and protein unfolding. Attempts to improve the performances of methanol sensitive lipases by mutagenesis as well as process engineering approaches are also summarized
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
JournalBiotechnology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Biodiesel
  • Inactivation
  • Lipase
  • Methanol


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