fatty acids book

Fatty Acids: Book Review Laurence Eyres

Fatty Acids: Book Review

Laurence Eyres FNZIFST

April 2018

fatty acids book

Fatty Acids: Chemistry, Synthesis and Applications


Price $175.00 USD from Elsevier (AOCS) or Amazon

Same price for the electronic version.

ISBN 978-0-12-809521-8

Key Features of the book

The book has 600 pages consisting of detailed chemistry with 18 chapters by 43 total contributors. The editor is a very experienced Chemist (FRRSC) with experience in academia at Texas A&M and more recently with Jina Pharmaceuticals.

  • Includes recent developments in the synthesis of fatty acid derivatives, as renewable raw materials for the chemical industry
  • Presents efficient synthetic methods for the dietary trans fatty acids in multi-gram scale allowing scientists and researchers to study dietary effects of individual trans fatty acids on human health
  • Addresses uses of fats and fatty acids in foods and nutrition
  • Identifies the roles of fatty acids and derivatives in cosmetic technology


The book gets off to a fascinating start in my opinion. Too often we forget the history of the science or technology in which we work. I particularly liked the section concerning Michel Chevreul, who could be considered one of the first pioneers in the organic chemistry of fatty acids and other natural materials. Chevreul’s research was published in Annales di Chemie in 1813-18. Although republished in 1886 to commemorate his 100th birthday it was never translated from ancient French to English until Albert Dijkstra translated “A chemical study of oils and fats of animal origin.” Dr. Dijkstra is a recipient of the Chevreul award and during his acceptance speech he proposed the formation of what is now Inform Connect, a hugely successful source of lipid information and technical assistance.

The book’s following chapters then provide a comprehensive source of information about a wide range of industrially important fatty acids This practical resource provides key insights into the chemistry, synthesis, industrial applications, derivatives, and analysis of fatty acids, and the chemical modifications that transform them for use in products from biodiesel fuels to pharmaceuticals.

The first few chapters review naturally occurring fatty acids, epoxy fatty acids, and carbocyclic fatty acids. There is an important and comprehensive review of the production of PUFA by microbial techniques, by that expert in the field Colin Ratledge. These techniques are so important with global fish stocks for marine PUFA rapidly declining.

Castor oil derivatization in India gets a comprehensive treatment although this reviewer would have liked to have seen an in-depth look at the production of PGPR (polyglycerol polyricinoleate), an important emulsifier in the food industry.

Sugar esters have never seemed to have reached their potential or economic success in the food industry for some reason probably expense, and there is a useful chapter on their synthesis and application. A section on polyglycerol esters would have been complementary. There is passing mention in the chapter on surfactants.

The review of fatty acid derivatives in cosmetic technology is brief but interesting and covers the vital area of emulsion stabilisation

The book itself claims to be selective in its topics and obviously you cannot cover this wide area in one text.

Biodiesel is an obvious topic for a review and chapter and this is briefly done by an academic from Tanzania, discussing castor and Jatropha oils with high FFA. Reaction conditions and catalysts are reviewed.

For those interested and working in analysis there are chapters on chromatography and mass spectrometry and a chapter explaining fully how to synthesise trans fatty acids for analytical standards.



The table of contents, index, references are all well done and presented. Each chapter has its own comprehensive reference list. The alphabetic index is well resourced and key words are easy to follow up. I found no spelling errors.

 Recommended Readership

Industrial chemists working in food and nutrition, pharma and cosmetics, Oleochemical industries, graduate students, academic libraries for food science, nutrition and agriculture. Researchers in academia and graduate students who are pursuing further studies in the modern utilisation of lipids.

It is a little advanced for the needs of food technologists who would probably prefer a more practical food application approach.

Conclusion and Summary

Written by a team of industry experts, Fatty Acids includes detailed descriptions in eighteen chapters of fatty acid crystallization, enzymatic synthesis, and microbial production. This book focuses heavily on the chemistry of trans fatty acids, with extensive explanations of their synthesis and measurement. Further, the book addresses advances in the analytical methodology, including mass spectrometry, of fatty acids as well as their derivatives. It is a modern reference text for chemists and is not for the background reader or novice in the field. It would be an excellent modern and advanced addition to classic texts by Gunstone and Pryde.



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