Published: February 1975
This interim report presents a technical and economic evaluation for the production of synthetic linear saturated fatty acids that are equivalent in composition and quality to those derived from coconut oil. The fatty acids contain an even number of carbon atoms predominantly in the Cl0 to Cl, range.
A process is selected that is based upon an alkaline oxidation or dehydrogenation of equivalent synthetic linear alcohols derived from ethylene polymerization through Ziegler chemistry. Sufficient technical background for the oxidation reaction is available from the patent literature and journals to permit a viable approach toward a plant design for the production of lauric acid from synthetic lauryl alcohol. This process is also considered adaptable to other fatty acids such as capric, myristic, and palmitic, or a mixture of these compounds. A brief analysis is also made of the capital investments and production costs of integrating linear alcohol facilities with fatty acid manufacture. A capacity of 50 million lb/yr is used as the minimum basis for alcohol synthesis by two ethylene polymerization processes: a Conoco type polymerization and an Ethyl type modified ethylene polymerization.
Variations of ethylene costs are examined as well as alcohol production costs at increased plant capacities up to 200 million lb/yr. Current coconut oil prices and trends for future prices and usage are reviewed so as to analyze the economics of replacement of coconut range acids by synthetic fatty acids by means of alkaline oxidation. Costs of fatty acid production from coconut oil are also summarized for comparative purposes.