Modification of triglycerides


1. SurfaTech Corporation, Lawrenceville, Ga, USA
2. AAK USA, Inc., Richmond, CA


The quest for sustainable formulations in the personal care market will require a re-examination of raw materials that support sustainability claims. Natural oils that are derived from plants are of particular interest. There are a great number of natural oils available to the formulator and processes that are used to alter the aesthetics of triglycerides used in formulations (1, 2).
This article will discuss the variety of glycerol esters, processes used to make and modify them and their use of in formulations. While glycerol esters have a common ester group they are made or modified by using different processes including esterification, transesterification, interesterification, and intraesterification. Despite the fact that all chemical processes result in esters the specific mechanisms are different, the by products are different and how they are used in formulation are different.

Demand for glycerol esters has experienced rapid growth in recent years. They are very important as there are a variety of areas in which they find applications. The market that uses the most triglycerides is the food industry as will become clear, there are many glycerol esters that are not edible. Triglycerides are important precursors for biodiesel, which is made by transesterification of a glyceryl ester with methanol making a fatty acid methyl esters. Biodiesel has attracted considerable attention as an environmentally friendly fuel for diesel engines, and biodiesel has several advantages as a renewable, biodegradable, and nontoxic fuel (3).


Triacylglycerol esters are the most common esters in which fatty acids occur naturally. In nature, triacylglycerols rarely exist in the form of a glycerol of only one fatty acid, but rather they are mixed species, i.e. glycerol esterified with more than one fatty acid(4). Glycerol esters, also called triglycerides occur in nature and make up an important part of our diet.

The selection of natural triglycerides for use in the cosmet ...