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Hydrogenation of fatty acid methyl esters to fatty alcohols at supercritical conditions



Hydrogenation of fatty acid methyl esters to fatty alcohols at supercritical conditions



Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 76(11): 1363-1370



Extremely rapid hydrogenation of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) to fatty alcohols (FOH) occurs when the reaction is conducted in a substantially homogeneous supercritical phase, using propane as a solvent, over a solid catalyst. At these conditions, the limitations of hydrogen transport are eliminated. At temperatures above 240pC, complete conversion of the starting material was reached at residence times of 2 to 3 s, which is several orders of magnitude shorter than reported in the literature. Furthermore, formation of by-products, i.e., hydrocarbons, could be prevented by choosing the right process settings. Hydrogen concentration turned out to be the key parameter for achieving the above two goals. As a result of the supercritical conditions, we could control the hydrogen concentration at the catalyst surface independently of the other process parameters. When methylated rapeseed oil was used as a substrate, the hydrogenation catalyst was deactivated rapidly. However, by using methylated sunflower oil, a catalyst life similar to that obtained in industrial processes was achieved. Our results showed that the hydrogenation of FAME to FOH at supercritical conditions is a much more efficient method than any other published process.

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Accession: 010770788

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DOI: 10.1007/s11746-999-0151-y



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