Enzymes are biocatalysts constructed of a folded chain of amino acids. They may be used under mild conditions for specific and selective reactions. While many enzymes have been found to be catalytically active in both aqueous and organic solutions, it was not until quite recently that enzymes were used to catalyze reactions in carbon dioxide when Randolph et al. (1985) performed the enzyme-catalyzed hydrolysis of disodium p-nitrophenol using alkaline phosphatase and Hammond et al. (1985) used polyphenol oxidase to catalyze the oxidation of p-cresol and p-chlorophenol. Since that time, more than 80 papers have been published concerning reactions in this medium. Enzymes can be 10–15 times more active in carbon dioxide than in organic solvents (Mori and Okahata, 1998). Reactions include hydrolysis, esterification, transesterification, and oxidation. Reactor configurations for these reactions were batch, semibatch, and continuous. There are many factors that influence the outcome of enzymatic reactions in carbon dioxide. These include enzyme activity, enzyme stability, temperature, pH, pressure, diffusional limitations of a two-phase heterogeneous mixture, solubility of enzyme and/or substrates, water content of the reaction system, and flow rate of carbon dioxide (continuous and semibatch reactions). It is important to understand the aspects that control and limit biocatalysis in carbon dioxide if one wants to improve upon the process. This chapter serves as a brief introduction to enzyme chemistry in carbon dioxide. The advantages and disadvantages of running reactions in this medium, as well as the factors that influence reactions, are all presented. Many of the reactions studied in this area are summarized in a manner that is easy to read and referenced in Table 6.1. Carbon dioxide is cited as a good choice of solvents for a number of reasons. Some of the advantages of running reactions in carbon dioxide instead of the more traditional organic solvents include the low viscosity of the solvent, the convenient recovery of the products and non-reacted components, abundant availability, low cost, no solvent contamination of products, full miscibility with other gases, non-existent toxicity, low surface tension, non-flammability, and recyclability. The low mass-transfer limitations are an advantage because of the large diffusivity of reactants.

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