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Jennifer Engel


Jennifer Engel


Project title: Characterisation of a convergent cascade for epsilon-caprolactone synthesis

The research project aims at the development of a rational approach for highly productive enzymatic synthesis of a precursor for the biodegradable plastic polycaprolactone: epsilon-caprolactone. In an enzyme cascade system, the lactone product will be converted to oligomer/polymer directly. By doing so, the waste generated by separation and purification steps will be reduced.

To achieve these goals, key reaction parameters, kinetic and thermodynamic effects influencing the productivity in the synthesis of epsilon-caprolactone and its oligomer/polymer products will be systematically described and quantitatively evaluated. The development of a reliable model describing the kinetics of the system is required for the effective design of the multi-enzymatic cascade.

The research will establish an environmentally benign synthesis of epsilon-caprolactone and polymers/oligomers thereof, which will alleviate the severe drawbacks observed in the current chemical approach.

Main supervisor:  Associate Professor Selin Kara

Co-supervisor: Associate Professor Dirk J. Opperman, University of the Free State, South Africa

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