Standard Article

Fatty Acids and Derivatives from Coconut Oil

  1. Gregorio C. Gervajio

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047167849X.bio039

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

How to Cite

Gervajio, G. C. 2005. Fatty Acids and Derivatives from Coconut Oil. Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products. 6:1.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Coconut oil and palm kernel oil are import feedstocks in the oleochemical industry. Oleochemicals are defined as chemicals made from oils. Coconut oil is well positioned because it has the unique advantage of having its fatty acid composition falling within the carbon-chain spectrum desired for the production of oleochemicals. C12–C14 fractions are highly sought after. The caproic to capric (C6–C10) fatty acid fractions are good materials for plasticizer range alcohol and for polyol esters. The latter are used in high-performance oil for jet engines and for a new generation of lubricants. These fractions are also basic to the preparation of medium-chain triglycerides, a highly valued dietary fat. The C12–C18 fractions are the primary raw materials for detergent-grade fatty alcohols.

Coconut fatty acids can be converted to other derivatives. Principles and methods in the manufacture of various oleochemicals are discussed.

Detailed information is given for the following: fatty acids and fat-splitting procedures; methyl esters and their advantages; fatty alcohols, which are gaining favor as surfactants because they are biodegradable and a renewable resource; glycerine; monoalkyl phosphates, which are used for fireproofing, foam inhibitors, in extreme pressure lubricants, and for cosmetic preparations; and alkanolamides, used as nonionic surfactants. Preparation of other surfactants prepared from vegetable oils is discussed. These surfactants find broad use in all industries, for example, as the main ingredients in detergents, emulsifiers and sanitizers in the food industry, and as flotation agents in the mining industry. Tertiary amines are used as starting materials for the manufacture of quaternary ammonium compounds and in the preparation of amine oxides. These oxides are used in cosmetic preparation.


  • coconut oil;
  • palm kernel oil;
  • oleochemicals;
  • fatty acids;
  • esters;
  • fatty alcohols;
  • glycerine;
  • alkanolamides;
  • phosphates;
  • fat-splitting processes;
  • high-pressure hydrogenation;
  • Lurgi method;
  • sulfonation;
  • surfactants;
  • detergents;
  • cosmetics;
  • emulsifiers;
  • flotation agents