Biocatalytic synthesis in ionic liquids
The stability and activity of enzymes in ionic liquids is under investigation by chemists in Italy.
Enzyme efficacy depends on their water activity - the amount of water required in the reaction to activate the enzyme. Cynthia Ebert and colleagues at UniversitÓ degli Studi, Trieste, investigated the water activity of different ionic liquids and then looked at their influence on the enzyme penicillin G amidase (PGA) in amide synthesis.
The PGA catalysed amide synthesis was successful and, according to Ebert, 'highly efficient' in ionic liquids, despite their viscosity.
Ebert's work brings together two arms of green chemistry - enzymes as biocatalysts, and the use of ionic liquids as an alternative to organic solvents. Both have potential to be recycled.
Ebert's team hopes to screen different ionic liquids for use with PGA with an aim to meet the demands for clean technology in organic synthesis.
A Basso et al, Green Chem., 2005, 7, 671 (DOI: 10.1039/b506230f)