Target Processes

High Oleic Acid

Oleic acid is a desirable building block chemical due to its oxidative stability, reactivity potential and low pour point, making it attractive for use in paints, lubricants, and cosmetics.  The downstream applications of oleic acid’s simple derivatives go beyond edible oils and biodiesel to include emulsifiers, polymer production, pharmaceuticals, and even paper recycling.  The estimated value of the oleic acid market is $2.8 billion and is growing at >7% per year.

Currently, oleic acid is generated from genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) of canola or sunflowers.  These GMO’s allow for >70% of the oil from these plants to be oleic acid, and the GMO’s of canola and sunflowers are quite expensive.  Oleic acid trades at a significant premium to soybean oil, corn oil, and palm oil, as much as +50%.  GMO’s of these lower value species have been created, but have only produced species capable of producing 75% oleic acid.

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Below is relevant associated test data from the hydrogenation of ethyl linoleate:

Catalyst

Reaction Conditions

Conversion

(%)

Selectivity (%)

H2

(psi)

Temp

(oC)

Time

(hrs)

Oleate

(%)

Stearate

(%)

ThruPore

14.7

60

3

99

92

7

Competition

14.7

60

3

14

3

11

What this data says is that at full conversion time – 3 hrs. – ThruPore’s catalyst delivered 92% of the desired end product, ethyl oleate. In comparison, a competitive catalyst showed only 14% conversion in the same timeframe, at a 3% – much less – yield of end product.