Main content area

Solvent-Assisted Crystallization of Fatty Acid Alkyl Esters from Animal Fat

Strohmeier, Katharina, Schober, Sigurd, Mittelbach, Martin
The journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society 2014 v.91 no.7 pp. 1217-1224
acetone, cold, crystallization, distillation, fatty acid composition, fatty acid methyl esters, filtration, fractionation, methanol, saturated fatty acids, solvents, tallow, temperature, unsaturated fatty acids
An easy and efficient method for the separation of saturated and unsaturated fatty acid mono alkyl esters, prepared from animal fat, was developed. The most efficient separation was achieved by the use of solvents such as methanol and acetone at low temperatures. The dilution of the alkyl esters with 10 times the amount of solvent (10:1 v/w) and storage of the mixture for 4 h at −22 °C could be defined as optimum conditions. After filtration of the saturated fraction at the corresponding temperature very pure fractions were obtained. For fatty acid methyl esters deriving from tallow, with an initial content of saturated fatty acids of almost 50 %, a saturated ester fraction with only 5 % unsaturated fatty acids and an unsaturated ester fraction with about 9 % of saturated fatty acids could be obtained. The solvent easily could be recovered by distillation. In addition fatty acid ethyl, 1-propyl, 2-propyl, 1-butyl, tert-butyl and 3-methyl-1-butyl esters were prepared and separated into saturated and unsaturated fractions. All fractions were analyzed according to the fatty acid compositions and showed similar or slightly worse results compared to the methyl esters. The cold filter plugging points of the unsaturated fractions were measured, showing the lowest value for the unsaturated methyl ester fraction at −26 °C. The fractionation with the use of solvents is an easy tool in order to obtain fatty acid alkyl esters with excellent cold temperature behavior out of animal fat.