3D printed ceramics as solid supports for enzyme immobilization: an automated DoE approach for applications in continuous flow

Alessia Valotta*, Manuel C. Maier, Sebastian Soritz, Magdalena Pauritsch, Michael Koenig, Dominik Brouczek, Martin Schwentenwein, Heidrun Gruber-Woelfler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, 3D printing has emerged in the field of chemical engineering as a powerful manufacturing technique to rapidly design and produce tailor-made reaction equipment. In fact, reactors with complex internal geometries can be easily fabricated, optimized and interchanged in order to respond to precise process needs, such as improved mixing and increased surface area. These advantages make them interesting especially for catalytic applications, since customized structured bed reactors can be easily produced. 3D printing applications are not limited to reactor design, it is also possible to realize functional low cost alternatives to analytical equipment that can be used to increase the level of process understanding while keeping the investment costs low. In this work, in-house designed ceramic structured inserts printed via vat photopolymerization (VPP) are presented and characterized. The flow behavior inside these inserts was determined with residence time distribution (RTD) experiments enabled by in-house designed and 3D printed inline photometric flow cells. As a proof of concept, these structured inserts were fitted in an HPLC column to serve as solid inorganic supports for the immobilization of the enzyme Phenolic acid Decarboxylase (bsPAD), which catalyzes the decarboxylation of cinnamic acids. The conversion of coumaric acid to vinylphenol was chosen as a model system to prove the implementation of these engineered inserts in a continuous biocatalytic application with high product yield and process stability. The setup was further automated in order to quickly identify the optimum operating conditions via a Design of Experiments (DoE) approach. The use of a systematic optimization, together with the adaptability of 3D printed equipment to the process requirements, render the presented approach highly promising for a more feasible implementation of biocatalysts in continuous industrial processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675–689
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Flow Chemistry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • 3D printing
  • Biocatalysis
  • Flow chemistry
  • Automation
  • DoE
  • Continuous flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry (miscellaneous)
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Organic Chemistry


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