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Hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids - i.kovacs - 11-17-2014 11:57 AM

We have received this question to askthechemist@thalesnano.com:

I have an H-Cube Midi and plan to run it for the hydrogenation of unsaturated fatty acids to make saturated fatty acids (soy bean oil, rape seed oil etc) as well as polymers of these fatty acids.
Can you recommend the best catalyst and process conditions?

Hydrogenation of the double bonds of unsaturated fatty acids is rather easy. The traditional catalyst for this purpose is Raney Nickel. Johnson Matthey offers supported Ni catalyst (Pricat) that is recommended for the reduction of fatty acids as well. However, other types of catalysts, such as Pd/C should also work.
You should screen different conditions, starting from 1 bar and RT, which should already provide you some conversion, depending on the chosen catalyst. At high temperatures double bond migration in the starting material can occur.