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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Isolation of Long-Chain Aliphatic Alcohols from Beeswax Using Lipase-Catalyzed Methanolysis in Supercritical Carbon Dioxide

item Jackson, Michael
item Eller, Fred

Submitted to: Journal of Supercritical Fluids
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 25, 2005
Publication Date: March 31, 2006
Citation: Jackson, M.A., Eller, F.J. 2006. Isolation of long-chain aliphatic alcohols from beeswax using lipase-catalyzed methanolysis in supercritical carbon dioxide. J. Supercritical Fluids. 37:173-177.

Interpretive Summary: There has been recent interest in a class of alcohols, known as policosanols, for their medicinal properties. Several studies have indicated that doses as small as 5 mg/day can lower total blood cholesterol while increasing the good cholesterol. Currently, policosanols are isolated by chemical reactions and extractions using large volumes of organic solvents. Here, we describe a method that uses carbon dioxide as an environmentally friendly solvent to convert beeswax to high purity policosanols in high yield.

Technical Abstract: Aliphatic alcohols of chain lengths of 24 to 34 carbons have been found to be beneficial in treating hypercholesterolemia. Approximately 40% of beeswax is long chain esters which can be transesterified in supercritical carbon dioxide to give these alcohols and fatty acid methyl esters. The methanolysis reaction was catalyzed by an immobilized lipase from Candida Antarctica in flowing supercritical carbon dioxide and the alcohols were then isolated from the fatty acid methyl esters by precipitation from heptane. The alcohols were found in the following percentages: tetracosanol, 9.1; hexacosanol, 14.0; octacosanol, 18.4; triacontanol, 37.2; dotriacontanol, 21.1; tetratriacontanol, 0.3. The utility of the method was demonstrated by isolating fatty alcohols from jojoba oil and an emulsion of triglycerides and waxes isolated from corn bran.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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