Catalysis Letters

, Volume 149, Issue 1, pp 303–312 | Cite as

Development of Magnesium Oxide–Zeolite Catalysts for Isomerization of Fatty Acids

  • Jianwei Zhang
  • Joseph Uknalis
  • Li Chen
  • Robert A. Moreau
  • Helen NgoEmail author


Three zeolites were treated with magnesium nitrate hexahydrate (Mg(NO3)2⋅6H2O) salt to generate active magnesium oxide (MgO)–zeolite catalysts for the isomerization of oleic acid to give the iso-oleic acid (precursor of isostearic acid). Isostearic acid is a crucial component used in the formulation of bio-lubricants including cosmetic and personal care products. The treatment step is intended to poison (or neutralize) the external acid sites of the zeolites, thus inhibiting the formation of by-products (i.e., dimer fatty acids). The acid sites, crystallinity, thermal property, morphology and elemental composition of the zeolites before and after treatments were investigated by scanning electron microscopy, fourier-transform spectroscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, and x-ray powder diffraction. In addition, the effect of a calcination step after treatment was examined to determine if this step was necessary to obtain an active and stable catalyst. As expected, the higher the concentration of MgO on the zeolites, the less dimer was detected in the isomerization products, while the conversion of oleic acid and selectivity of iso-oleic acid remained at a relatively high level. This is promising because the MgO has deprotonated the external acids of the zeolites to generate a high purity isostearic acid that is potentially suitable for personal care products.

Graphical Abstract


Isomerization Magnesium oxide Size selectivity Zeolite 



The authors would like to acknowledge Mr. Kerby Jones for experimental help, and Daniel Micheroni at University of Chicago for PXRD characterization. The authors would also like to thank NIFA-AFRI (Grant Award # 2013-67021-21142) for providing partial funding support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for the purpose of providing specific information and does not imply recommendation or endorsement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Supplementary material

10562_2018_2601_MOESM1_ESM.docx (2.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 2746 KB)


  1. 1.
    Ngo H, Foglia TA (2014) US Patents 8,748,641, 10 Jun 2014Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Zhang S, Zhang Z, Steichen D (2005) US Patents 6,946,567, 20 Sept 2005Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tomifuji T, Abe H, Matsumura Y, Sakuma Y (1997) US Patents 5,677,473, 14 Oct 1997Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Canter N (2009) Tribol Lubr Technol 65:10Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Nelson L (2007) Tribol Lubr Technol 63:32Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Aungst BJ (1989) Pharm Res 6:244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Hibino T, Niwa M, Murakami Y (1993) Zeolites 13:518CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Pinar A, Marquez-Alvarez C, Grande-Casas M, Perez-Pariente J (2009) J Catal 263:258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Xu W-Q, Yin Y-G, Suib SL, Edwards JC, O’Young C-L (1996) J Catal 163:232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Müller M, Harvey G, Prins R (2000) Microporous Mesoporous Mater 34:135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Rachwalik R, Olejniczak Z, Sulikowski B (2005) Catal Today 101:147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hu Z, Wei L, Dong J, Wang Y, Chen S, Peng S (1999) Microporous Mesoporous Mater 28:49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Ngo HL, Hoh E, Foglia TA (2012) Eur J Lipid Sci Technol 114:213CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Ngo HL (2014) Eur J Lipid Sci Technol 116:645CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Ngo HL (2015) J Am Oil Chem Soc 92:613CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ramesh K, Jie C, Han Y-F, Borgna A (2010) Ind Eng Chem Res 49:4080CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Rachwalik R, Olejniczak Z, Jiao J, Huang J, Hunger M, Sulikowski B (2007) J Catal 252:161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Chen CSH, Tabak SA (1986) US Patents 4,568,786, 4 Feb 1986Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Chen CS (1987) US Patents 4,716,135, 29 Dec 1987Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Blain DA, Page NM, Young LB (1991) US Patents 5,026,933, 25 Jun 1991Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Emana AN, Chand S (2015) Appl Petrochem Res 5:121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Guo X, Shen J-P, Sun L, Song C, Wang X (2003) Catal Lett 87:25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sarker MI, Latona RJ, Moreau RA, Micheroni D, Jones KC, Ngo HL (2017) Eur J Lipid Sci Technol 119:1700262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Jae J, Tompsett GA, Foster AJ, Hammond KD, Auerbach SM, Lobo RF, Huber GW (2011) J Catal 279:257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Kustov LM (1997) Top Catal 4:131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Jentys A, Lercher JA (2001) In: van Bekkum H, Flanigen EM, Jacobs PA, Jansen JC (eds) Introduction to zeolite science and practice, vol 137. Elsevier, AmsterdamCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jianwei Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Joseph Uknalis
    • 2
  • Li Chen
    • 1
  • Robert A. Moreau
    • 2
  • Helen Ngo
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringSouth China University of TechnologyGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Eastern Regional Research CenterUSDA, ARSWyndmoorUSA

Personalised recommendations