• Open Access

Ammoniation–Dehydration of Fatty Acids into Nitriles: Heterogeneous or Homogeneous Catalysis?



Fatty nitriles have lately become of interest in the framework of biofuels and for the valorization of the oil part of biomass to form fine chemicals or polymers. The production of long-chain fatty nitriles by the direct reaction of acids with NH3 has not been extensively studied, although several catalysts have been developed and published as patents. The characterization of this reaction with and without catalyst is, to the best of our knowledge, performed for the first time in this study. Several catalysts with various acid–base features were tested, and the best catalysts at 250 °C (Zn- and In-based catalysts) were further studied. Catalytically active forms and models are proposed for the Zn- and In-based catalysts, and the kinetic parameters for the amide to nitrile reaction are evaluated.