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Pure Appl. Chem., 2007, Vol. 79, No. 11, pp. 1999-2011

Industrial development and application of biobased oleochemicals

Karlheinz Hill

Cognis GmbH, Monheim, Germany

Abstract: In concepts for new products, performance, product safety, and product economy criteria are equally important. They are taken into account already when the raw materials base for a new industrial product development is defined. Here, renewable resources gain-again after the earlier "green trend" in the 1980s-increasing attention as an alternative raw materials source compared to fossil feedstock. The industrial use of carbohydrates, proteins, and vegetable oils aligns perfectly with the principles of Responsible Care and is an important part of green chemistry and sustainability in general. Since the 1950s, oleochemistry has grown to a major research and technology area in several institutions and industries. A large variety of products based on fats and oils have been developed since then for different uses, such as specialties for polymer applications, biodegradable mineral oil replacements for lubricants, and surfactants and emulsifiers for the home and personal-care industries. However, at present it seems that the use of renewable resources, especially vegetable oils, has to compete more and more with the increasing demand for bioenergy, which could cause an unbalanced supply and demand in the future or even a threat for the increasing demand for food in certain areas of the world.