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Pure Appl. Chem., 2000, Vol. 72, No. 7, pp. 1255-1264

Fats and oils as oleochemical raw materials

Karlheinz Hill

Cognis Deutschland GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany

Abstract: Vegetable oils and fats are important constituents of human and animal foodstuffs. Certain grades are industrially used and, together with carbohydrates and proteins, are important renewable resources compared to fossil and mineral raw materials, whose occurrence is finite. In concepts for new products, the price, performance, and product safety criteria are equally important and have a correspondingly high importance right at the start of product development. To ensure a high degree of product safety for consumers and the environment, renewable resources have often been shown to have advantages when compared with petrochemical raw materials and can therefore be regarded as being the ideal raw material basis. Results from oleochemistry show that the use of vegetable fats and oils allows the development of competitive, powerful products, which are both consumer-friendly and environment-friendly. Recently developed products, which fit this requirement profile, are the anionic surfactants cocomonoglyceride sulfate and the nonionic sugar surfactant alkyl polyglycoside. These products are used especially as mild surfactants in cosmetic formulations. In polymer applications derivatives of oils and fats, such as epoxides, polyols, and dimerizations products based on unsaturated fatty acids, are used as plastic additives or components for composites or polymers like polyamides and polyurethanes. In the lubricant sector fatty acid-based esters have proven to be powerful alternatives to conventional mineral oil products.