Application L2212 The cover of Journal of Polymers and the Environment, Volume 30

Epoxidation of tall oil fatty acids and tall oil fatty acids methyl esters using the SpinChem® rotating bed reactor

Krzysztof Polaczek, Eliza Kaulina, Ralfs Pomilovskis, Anda Fridrihsone, and Mikelis Kirpluks

J. Polym. Environ., 2022, 30, pp. 4774–4786.

“Tall oil fatty acids are a second-generation bio-based feedstock finding application in the synthesis of polyurethane materials. The study reported tall oil fatty acids and their methyl esters epoxidation in a rotating packed bed reactor. The chemical structure of the synthesized epoxidized tall oil fatty acids and epoxidized tall oil fatty acids methyl ester were studied by Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. Average molecular weight and dispersity were determined from gel permeation chromatography data. The feasibility of multiple uses of the Amberlite® IRC120 H ion exchange resin as a catalyst was investigated. Gel permeation chromatography chromatograms of epoxidized tall oil fatty acids clearly demonstrated the formation of oligomers during the epoxidation reaction. The results showed that methylation of tall oil fatty acids allows obtaining an epoxidized product with higher relative conversion to oxirane and much smaller viscosity than neat tall oil fatty acids. Epoxidation in a rotating packed bed reactor simplifed the process of separating the catalyst from the reaction mixture. The Amberlite® IRC120 H catalyst exhibited good stability in the tall oil fatty acids epoxidation reaction.”

Reaction scheme for the epoxidation of tall oil fatty acids and tall oil fatty acid methyl esters


  • “It was found that the conversion of double bonds to oxiranes in the TOFA epoxidation reaction carried out in the RBR reactor was higher than when a batch reactor was used.”

  • “The design of the RBR reactor allows the catalyst to be separated from the reaction mixture without any losses and additional operations such as filtration, washing and drying, as is the case when a batch reactor is used.”

  • “Conducting the epoxidation reaction in the RBR reactor facilitated the separation process and provided the opportunity of reusing the catalyst.”

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