Classification and application of Fatty Acid

  • Introduction

    Fatty acid is a kind of carboxylic acid compound also called free fatty acid when it exists alone. Three long chain fatty acids and glycerol form three acid glyceride (Triacylglycerols) as the main components of the fat. The lower fatty acids are colorless liquids with pungent odors, while the higher fatty acids are waxy solids with no obvious smell. Fatty acids are the simplest of fats and the constituents of many more complex fats. With sufficient oxygen supply, fatty acids can be oxidized and decomposed into CO2 (carbon dioxide) and H2O (water), releasing a lot of energy. Therefore, fatty acids are one of the main energy sources of the body. Fatty acids can be used as emulsifiers and other surfactants, lubricants and gloss agents in the production of styrene butadiene rubber. Can also be used in the production of advanced soap, transparent soap, stearic acid and various surfactant intermediates.


    Fatty acid molecules can be saturated, where all the carbon atoms are connected to each other, and saturated molecules are solid at room temperature. When carbon atoms in the chain are joined by double bonds, fatty acid molecules can be unsaturated. When a double bond is formed, the chain takes two forms: cis and trans. Total trans fatty acids are the general term for all unsaturated fatty acids containing trans double bonds. It is a kind of unsaturated fatty acid which is harmful to health. In addition to hydrogenation of oil and grease, the main source of trans fatty acids, the content of trans fatty acids would increase in the refining and deodorizing process of grease because of the high temperature treatment. When cooking, it is customary to heat oil to smoke and repeatedly fry food so that these oils will also increase the amount of trans fatty acids

    Depending on the number of carbon atoms, Organic fatty acids with carbon atoms of 1-6 are called short-chain fatty acids, in the contrast, medium chain and long chain fatty acids are fatty acids with 8-10 carbon atoms in the chain. We’ll focus on the progress in medical field.

    Medical applications

    Fatty acids are widely used in medicine, for example as antibiotics. Moreover, fatty acids are essential chemicals in physiology and nutrition. As early as 1899, Clack began to study the antibacterial effect of fatty acids. The antibacterial properties of saturated fatty acids before C11 improved with the increase of the number of carbon atoms, the anti-bacterial properties of branched fatty acids were weaker than that of straight fatty acids with the same number of carbon, and the activity of hydrogen atoms replaced by hydroxyl acids decreased. High unsaturated fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, linolenic acid and arachidonic acid, have shown high antibacterial activity in gram-positive bacteria. In addition, in unsaturated fatty acids, only cis isomers show antibacterial properties.

    High unsaturated fatty acids have special nutritional effects. The unsaturated fatty acids and the two groups of baits with corn oil and fish oil were fed to the black mice respectively to compare the composition of fatty acids in the living tissue. And then further to single fatty acids in the same experiment, found the stearic acid, oleic acid lipid within the organization of arachidonic acid, five of six olefinic acid, acid content without any significance, but in the black rat feeding linoleic acid, only to find that the amount of arachidonic acid in the organization of lipid increased (because of linoleic acid is a precursor of arachidonic acid, and linolenic acid is a precursor of the five acid).High unsaturated fatty acids have a special effect on the treatment of scaly skin disease and tail necrosis.

    High unsaturated fatty acids also have special effects and curative effects on lowering cholesterol in animals.

    Development prospect and summary

    From the perspective of industry development cycle, China's fatty acid and its derivatives industry has entered the mature period of the industry.

    According to the fatty acid and its derivatives industry development at present, the guiding ideology of fatty acid and its derivatives industry development in our country should be: to develop high performance, low pollution of fatty acid and its derivatives, and promote the development of fatty acid and its derivatives in the direction of specialization production.