My project is part of the NWO-LIFT programme and is a collaboration with Croda, BASF and VibSpec.
Isostearic acid is a naturally-derived chemical found in various applications such as cosmetics, foods and lubricating oils. Its commercial production takes place through the hydrogenation of the fatty acid iso-oleic acid, which can be made from vegetable oils.
The aim of this project is to develop a bifunctional solid catalyst which, in addition to the hydrogenation reaction, also removes undesired colour and odour compounds from the reaction mixture. This catalyst should produce high purity isostearic acid and should furthermore remain stable for extended amounts of time. To study the hydrogenation process a combination of in-situ characterization methods will be installed in the reactor, such as ATR-IR, Raman and UV-VIS spectroscopy. These techniques will then be complemented with off-line methods, such as GC-MS and NMR spectroscopy.