Skip to main content
Fatty Alcohol

Fatty Alcohol

Producing fatty alcohol from vegetable oils and fats

Air Liquide Engineering & Construction provides proven technology to produce fatty alcohol from a wide range of vegetable oils and fats. Depending on the existing plant configuration, a methyl ester or a wax ester approach may be preferred. Both processes deliver fractions of fatty alcohols with varying chain lengths.

Hydrogenation into fatty alcohol

Thanks to its considerable experience in fatty alcohol production, Air Liquide Engineering & Construction can advise clients on the right solution for their needs. Fatty alcohol can be produced from all kinds of vegetable oils and fats, although the end product may differ considerably depending on the feedstock. Currently, the biggest market is C12/14 from palm kernel and coconut oil.

Two production methods are available: methyl ester and wax ester. The former is usually preferred if a methyl ester plant already exists on site or if methyl ester is a side-product of the facility. In this approach, esters from methyl ester are hydrogenated in a fixed-bed reactor with a  copper catalyst in a reaction that occurs at 180-210°C and a pressure of 250 bar. The resulting fatty alcohol contains traces of oxygenates, which are hydrogenated in a carbonyl conversion section.

In the wax ester approach, fatty acid fractions are esterified with fatty alcohol into wax ester (without the use of a catalyst). The hydrogenation process is the same as for methyl ester and oxygenate traces are once again removed through carbonyl conversion. The resulting fatty alcohol cuts can be further fractionated into fatty alcohol products. In both approaches, glycerin is generated as a co-product.


  • Produces fatty alcohol from a wide range of vegetable oils and fats
  • Fractions of fatty alcohol have different chain lengths

Key figures

  • Capacity: 90 tons per day to 600 tons per day
  • Operating Expenditures (methyl ester): 115 United States Dollar (USD)/ton
  • Operating Expenditures (wax ester): 120 USD/ton

Fatty Alcohol
Fatty Alcohol – Wax Ester Route

Fatty Alcohol – Methyl Ester Route
Fatty Alcohol – Methyl Ester Route