DTU Chemistry - Cover on 'Catalysts'

Bridging leads to front page article

Tuesday 07 Nov 17
by Janwium


Günther H.J. Peters
DTU Chemistry
+4545 25 24 86


John Woodley
DTU Chemical Engineering
+4545 25 28 85

A fruitful collaboration bridging DTU Chemistry and DTU Chemical Engineering and combining theory and experiments has resulted in a front page article in an important catalysis journal.

Associate Professor Günther H. J. Peters and Postdoc Sindrila Dutta Banik from DTU Chemistry have, together with Professor John M. Woodley and Senior Researcher Mathias Nordblad from DTU Chemical Engineering, recently published an article in the scientific journal ‘Catalysts’.

In the article ‘Effects of Water Clustering on the Activity of Candida antarctica Lipase B in Organic Medium’, they present the findings from their study of enzyme activity effects in an organic medium at different water contents.

The researchers have studied these effects using both laboratory experiments and computer simulations.

The study was based on esterification; the formation of esters. The term ‘ester’ is a contraction of the German Ess(igä)ther ('acetic ether’). Esters are the chemical compounds that form when an acid reacts with an alcohol or a phenol during water splitting (condensation).

Scent of pineapple
The experiments show that the formation of esters decreases in line with a water content increase. The simulations also show that the water molecules cluster around special ‘hot spots’ on the surface of the enzyme, CALB (Candida antarctica Lipase B), which the researchers are studying.

The researchers from both DTU Chemistry and DTU Chemical Engineering are pleased with the collaboration.

“The collaboration works really well because the departments’ fields complement each other. The most exciting aspect is to learn from each other. It’s not only personally satisfying, but also provides new solutions to the scientific problems that we’re trying to solve,” John Woodley explains.

Günther H. J. Peters says: “The interaction between simulations and experiments provides a molecular understanding of enzymes’ reactions in organic solvents.  This understanding is important for designing enzymes that can optimize the esters synthesis”.

The front page illustration for the August issue of the journal has been made by Anne Frejberg from DTU Chemistry with input from the researchers. The illustration shows how more water means that less ester is formed. Some pineapples can be faintly seen at the bottom of the illustration. They are there because the ester that is formed during the experiments is ethyl butyrate, which has an odour reminiscent of pineapple.

Read the article Effects of Water Clustering on the Activity of Candida antarctica Lipase B in Organic Medium’