Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/22/2011
Publication Date: 3/30/2012
Citation: Cermak, S.C., Evangelista, R.L., Kenar, J.A. 2012. Distillation of natural fatty acids and their chemical derivatives. In: Zereshki, S., editor. Distillation. Rijeka, Croatia: InTech Press. p. 109:140.
Technical Abstract: Well over 1,000 different fatty acids are known which are natural components of fats, oils (triacylglycerols), and other related compounds. These fatty acids can have different alkyl chain lengths, 0-6 carbon-carbon double bonds possessing cis- or trans-geometry, and can contain a variety of functional groups along the alkyl chain. Of these, there are approximately 20-25 fatty acids that occur widely in nature, are produced from commodity oils and fats, and find major use for food and nutrition applications with the remainder being used by the oleochemical industry to produce soaps, detergents, personal care products, lubricants, paints, and more recently biodiesel. The triglyceride-containing oils are extracted from oilseeds by mechanical pressing or by using solvent extraction. Seeds containing high oil contents are usually mechanically extracted first to reduce the oil content in the seed by 60% before solvent extraction. World fat and oil production in 1998 was 101 million tons, of which 14.2% (14.3 million tons) was used as basic oleochemicals. In 2009, the global production of fats and oils increased to 137.5 million tons with 21.2% (29.3 million tons) used for non-food industrial purposes driven by the high petroleum prices as well as the growing demand for natural or renewable products. The fatty acid composition of fats and oils varies widely depending on the source. Thus, different distillation methods have been reviewed in this chapter: batch, continuous, fractional, and molecular. Additionally, molecular distillation of two new crop (cuphea and meadowfoam) oils and fatty acids were evaluated as an industrial process. Finally, reactive distillation was reviewed as a renewed method to do simultaneous implementation of reaction and distillation within a single column which is especially suited for the chemical reactions limited by thermodynamic and equilibrium constraints.