Oleochemical Process Plants: Fatty Acid Production and Glycerin Production

Date Published:   03/08/2019

Oleochemical Process Plants: Fatty Acid Production and Glycerin Production

The oleochemical manufacturing industry includes the processing of natural oils and fats, both of vegetable and animal origin, into numerous substances, such as:

  • Fatty acids by cleavage (splitting) of the triglycerides molecule into its constituents (i.e. fatty acids and glycerin);
  • Biodiesel, mainly by substitution (transesterification of glycerin with methanol in the triglycerides molecule); and
  • Glycerin by processing glyceric aqueous solutions mainly derived from transesterification and splitting.

This article will focus on the production of fatty acids, glycerin (which is a co-product of fatty acid production) and their derivatives. Fatty Acids and their chemical derivatives have a place in almost every aspect of modern living. They are used in shampoos, liquid detergents, fabric softeners, lotions, flavors, fragrances and much more.

Fatty Acid Process Plants and Glycerin Process Plants supply a wide range of industrial applications with thousands of end-products mainly in the following fields:

  • Coating & Paints
  • Cosmetics
  • Emulsifiers
  • Lubricants
  • Plasticizers
  • Rubber Chemicals
  • Soap & Detergents
  • Surfactants
  • Textile Chemicals

Raw materials for fatty acid plants include soybean oil, palm oil, sunflower see oil, rapeseed oil, cotton oil, olive oil – all vegetable based oils; and animals fats like lard, butter, tallow, fish oil and poultry fat. Feedstocks are typically vary by geography and are determined by local supply and costs.

Note: Crude glycerin is typically produced in an oleochemical fatty acid production plant, where fats and/or vegetable oil molecules are split to make fatty acid and a glycerin co-product at a 10:1 ratio. As noted earlier, it is also possible to make glycerin by saponification or in bio-diesel production via transesterification.

Whatever the final derivate (ester, salt, alcohol, sulphate, sulphonate, amine, amide, etc.) the intermediate steps always involve the products of fatty acids, as a distilled mixture or as pure fraction: An oleochemical processing facility – aka fatty acid plant and glycerin plant - can be composed of the following processes or sections:

  • Pretreatment
  • Splitting
  • Straight Distillation
  • Heating Systems
  • Fractional Distillation
  • Sweetwater Treatment and Concentration
  • Wet Fractionation
  • Hydrogenation
  • Flaking
  • Glycerin Distillation and Refining
  • Glycerin Recovery


Technology Suppliers:

Below is a list of worldwide fatty acid process plant and glycerin process plant technology companies:

  • Andreotti Impianti
  • Desmet Ballestra
  • DVC Process Technologists
  • Fenix Process Technologies
  • Gianazza
  • JJ-Lurgi
  • Lipico Technologies
  • Mectech Process Engineers
  • Muez-Hest

Planning to start or expand a fatty acid or glycerin plant? Phoenix Equipment buys and sells complete fatty acid plants, glycerin plants and oleochemical facilities. Take a look at our current fatty acid plant inventory and glycerin plant inventory, or if you can’t find what you need, contact us today and one of our team members can assist you in finding exactly what you need.

Plant Subcategory Fatty Acid & Glycerin Plant
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