Date of Award

Spring 1939

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




For a long time the higher fatty acids, namely, those organic acids having more than ten carbon atoms to the molecule have been considered as text-book material, and are widely used to illustrate an homologous series. Since they are difficult to obtain in a pure state their exact properties are not known. They have had very little commercial application. It is known that the drying of linseed oil films is due to the absorption of oxygen by the unsaturated fatty acids of the oil. Little has been done to isolate the active acids, although the paint industry has used linseed oil which contains mixtures of them. Recently, however, as in the artificial resin industry, remarkable products have been obtained by condensing pure fatty acids with phenol and alkyl materials. In medicine it has been found that small dosages of certain pure fatty acids cure dietary-deficiency diseases, but that the inclusion of certain other acids ordinarily associated in nature with them, are toxic in behavior. Synthesis of these useful acids is almost impossible, but mixtures of them are found abundantly in nature. Having the need for these products, and a rich source of them, industry has begun a careful study of their properties and means of isolation. Many methods have been tried, both physical and chemical, but none has produced anything better than a partial separation. It is the purpose of this research to study the distillation of the methyl esters of a fatty acid mixture as a means of separation.