Submitted to: Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 1997
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Many lubricants, especially those made from petroleum, are not readily degraded by nature. Therefore, these materials will accumulate and not be environmentally friendly. We have produced estolides from fatty acids which will be degraded by soil microorganisms. This study was undertaken to measure the extent and time necessary for this biodegradation to occur. It found that oleic acid, meadowfoam oil fatty acids, erucic acid mono and poly estolides were readily biodegradable in soil. Therefore, these materials are acceptable sources of new lubricants when environmental concerns are present.
Technical Abstract: Oleic acid, meadowfoam oil fatty acids and erucic acid mono and poly estolides were subjected to biodegradation. Estolides were inoculated with mixed cultures of Penicillium verucosum, Mucor racemosus and Enterobacter aerogenes. Fermentations were continued for 3, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30 days. Meadowfoam oil and its fatty acids, oleic acid and soybean oil were also subjected to biodegradation under the same conditions. In 10 days, oleic acid and soybean oil degraded 99.8% and 99.2%, meadowfoam oil and its fatty acids degraded 89.0% and 97.7% respectively. Estolide biodegradation experiments were carried out to 30 days. Oleic poly and monoestolides degraded 98.6% and 90.0% respectively, meadowfoam estolides degraded 75.7% and erucic acid estolides degraded 84.0%.