Current methods for the production of esters, including chemical synthesis and extraction from natural sources, are hindered by low yields and environmental pollution. The enzymatic synthesis of these compounds could help overcome these problems. In this study, phenethyl formate, a commercially valuable formate ester, was synthesized using commercial immobilized lipases. The effects of specific enzymes, enzyme concentration, formic acid:phenethyl alcohol molar ratio, temperature, and solvent were studied in order to optimize the synthesis conditions, which were identified as 15 g/L of Novozym 435 enzyme, a 1:5 formic acid:phenethyl alcohol molar ratio, a 40 °C reaction temperature, and 1,2-dichloroethane as the solvent. Under these conditions, phenethyl formate was obtained in a conversion yield of 95.92%. In addition, when 1,2-dichloroethane was replaced with toluene as the solvent, the enzyme could be recycled for at least 20 reactions with a steady conversion yield above 92%, testifying to the economic aspects of the process. The enzymatic synthesis of phenethyl formate using the proposed method is more environmentally friendly than methods currently employed in academic and laboratory settings. Moreover, the method has the potential to enhance the value-added properties of formic acid owing to its downstream use in the production of commercially essential esters.
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