2-Phenylethyl acetate (2-PEAc), a highly valued natural volatile ester, with a rose-like odor, is widely added in cosmetics, soaps, foods, and drinks to strengthen scent or flavour. Nowadays, 2-PEAc are commonly produced by chemical synthesis or extraction. Alternatively, biocatalysis is a potential method to replace chemical synthesis or extraction for the production of natural flavour. Continuous synthesis of 2-PEAc in a solvent-free system using a packed bed bioreactor through immobilized lipase-catalyzed transesterification of ethyl acetate (EA) with 2-phenethyl alcohol was studied. A Box–Behnken experimental design with three-level-three-factor, including 2-phenethyl alcohol (2-PE) concentration (100–500 mM), flow rate (1–5 mL min−1
) and reaction temperature (45–65 °C), was selected to investigate their influence on the molar conversion of 2-PEAc. Then, response surface methodology and ridge max analysis were used to discuss in detail the optimal reaction conditions for the synthesis of 2-PEAc. The results indicated both 2-PE concentration and flow rate are significant factors in the molar conversion of 2-PEAc. Based on the ridge max analysis, the maximum molar conversion was 99.01 ± 0.09% under optimal conditions at a 2-PE concentration of 62.07 mM, a flow rate of 2.75 mL min−1
, and a temperature of 54.03 °C, respectively. The continuous packed bed bioreactor showed good stability for 2-PEAc production, enabling operation for at least 72 h without a significant decrease of conversion.
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