Oils & Fats

The Oils & Fats Industry

The use of enzymes in the oils and fats industry is still in its infancy, but some commercial enzymes have already become well established.

Enzyme technology may provide many of the solutions to the industry’s problems, for example by minimizing unwanted by­products. Enzymes may also be the key to producing novel oils & fats.


Modification of fats

The properties of a fat depend on the fatty acids it contains and the commercial value of one fat compared to another is based on its fatty acid structure.

Traditionally, oil and fat processors have changed the fatty acid structure of their materials by blending different triglyceride mixtures (combination of natural fats), by chemical modification of the fatty acids (such as by hydrogenation) or by re­arrangement of the fatty acids on the glyceride backbone of the fat (interesterification).

Specific enzyme catalysts such as Lipozyme® IM may now be used for interesterification. Unlike other catalytic agents that cannot distinguish between the 1, 2 and 3 positions on the triglyceride, some enzymes can select some fatty acids and leave others alone. Using a 1,3­specific lipase, a particular fatty acid can be incorporated into the two outer positions of the triglyceride structure without changing the fatty acid residue in the middle position. Alternatively, the 1,3­specific lipase can randomly rearrange the fatty acid residues at the outer positions without touching the one in the middle – a process called transesterification.

This enzyme technology allows processors to produce ‘tailor­made’ fats. Here are a few examples of applications:

- Cocoa butter fats required for the production of chocolate are often in short supply and the price can fluctuate widely. But palm oil, for example, can be upgraded in a reaction with stearic acid using enzymatic interesterification. The resulting fat has similar properties to cocoa butter.

- Low­value fats in overabundant supply, such as palm oil, can be upgraded by enzymatic modification and used in a wider variety of applications.

- In margarine production, the melting point, spreadability, shelf­life or nutritional properties of a natural fat or oil can be modified.


Ester synthesis

Traditionally, the production of fatty esters has been carried out by chemical catalysis. In certain cases, side­reactions occur which are considered undesirable, either because of poor product yield or due to the hazardous nature of the by­products.

Enzymes offer the advantage of catalysis under mild reaction conditions. This is especially important because the mild conditions reduce the side reactions and the resulting formation of by­products to a minimum.

As well as being used in the production of flavours and fragrances, esters are used as surfactants in cosmetic products such as moisturizing creams and shampoos. For these end­uses, purity is vital. The specificity of the lipase enzyme reaction results in esters with virtually no unwanted by­products.

Novozymes’s immobilized lipase Novozym® 435 can be used to synthesize a broad range of esters.


Production of lyso­lecithin

Lecithin is a by­product of seed oil refining that can be used as an emulsifier. Lecitase® is used to produce lyso­lecithin, which has better emulsifying properties than normal lecithin. The uses of lyso­lecithin include margarines and cosmetics.


Product Range

The standard Product Range for the Oils & Fats industry looks as follows. Most products are available in liquid as well as solid form, and in different concentrations. Please contact your local sales office for further details as well as with inquiries about special products not listed here.

Please note that all products listed are not necessarily available in all countries. Contact your local sales office for details.

Liquid phospholipase for the modification of lecithins.

Novozym® 435
An immobilized lipase for ester synthesis.

Lipozyme® IM
An immobilized 1,3-specific lipase for the production of tailor-made oils, fats and esters.

Novozym 388
A liquid 1,3-specific lipase for the hydrolysis of esters.

Novozym 398
A liquid 1,3-specific lipase for the hydrolysis of esters.

Novozym 868
A liquid non-specific lipase for the hydrolysis of esters.