Oleochemical Catalysts

The world of chemical raw materials is steadily shifting away from petroleum to oils and fats. BASF is dedicated to make the change, we are here to drive the industry forward. For more than 50 years, we have been a leading global supplier of catalysts for oleochemical applications and their technologies.

The perfect solution for your industry needs

BASF provides catalysts for an array of renewable feedstock processing technologies including powders and droplets for slurry phase reactors as well as tablets and extrudates for fixed bed applications.

Looking for options to upgrade your glycerin business? Do you want to improve your value chain carbon footprint and develop into a bio refinery?

The oversupply of glycerin derived from production of biodiesel or fatty alcohols resulted in significant decrease in prices and made glycerin a low-price commodity limiting the outlets and margins for glycerin producers. bio propylene glycol as a new outlet for glycerin is an attractive bulk chemical in a fast-growing market and offers multiple benefits to producers and has applications in many different industries, such as urethanes, polyester resins, food and beverage processing and deicing/antifreeze agent.

Bio propylene glycol represents an attractive alternative to conventionally produced propylene glycol from glycerin which does not rely on petroleum as raw material and offers an environmental advantage. 

BASF teamed-up with Air Liquide Engineering & Construction, a market leader providing superior technology solutions for the world’s oleochemicals producers, to license the commercially proven BASF technology for hydrogenolysis of glycerol to bio propylene glycol. Glycerin is hydrogenated at very high conversion and selectivity in liquid phase with a proprietary BASF copper catalyst. The conversion to bio propylene glycol is taking place in two serial fixed bed reactors and at temperatures between 175 to 195 °C and at a pressure of 75 or 200 bar. The crude product is then further purified downstream in a two-column distillation to produce propylene glycol with a technical grade of more than 99.5% purity. Pharma grade bio propylene glycol is possible to produce depending on feedstock quality.

The technology for production of bio propylene glycol is commercially proven and successfully operating since 2012.


Natural source fatty alcohols are produced from plant sources such as palm and coconut trees, using triglyceride oil raw materials. In a series of processing steps, the oils are converted into fatty esters which are catalytically hydrogenated into fatty alcohols. BASF provides a comprehensive product line of copper- and nickel-based catalysts for the fatty alcohol processes.

BASF offers proprietary Cu and Ni fixed bed catalysts for fatty alcohol production in liquid phase with proven track record for reliable operation at multiple plants. Catalysts of choice for the core hydrogenation step are tailored Cu-based fixed bed catalysts while Ni fixed bed catalysts are preferred in the downstream section for the conversion of carbonyls. Catalysts are available in extrudate or tablet form. The extrudates offer lower density for lower cost-of-fill and better mass transfer properties, while tablets offer better physical integrity.

Ni and Cu catalysts are available unreduced (requires activation at user site) or pre-reduced under optimal conditions at BASF and stored in alcohol for quicker start-up and shorter turnaround times.

BASF also provide commerical proven catalyst which can be used for unsatruated fatty alcohol. 

Feel free to contact BASF for more details.

Unsaturated fatty alcohols are highly specialized active surfactants because of the high reactivity of the double bond and its convenient characteristic to add other molecules to the alcohol or even to produce a branched high molecular weight alcohol which is based on renewable material.

BASF offers as well highly specialized Zinc-based fixed-bed catalysts for the production of unsaturated fatty alcohols from fatty

acids. The unique selectivity of BASF’s catalyst allows to hydrogenate the carbonyl group to an alcohol while maintaining a high

selectivity towards the double bond product.

BASF provides a variety of catalysts that optimize oil and fat hydrogenation. BASF’s Nysosel® catalysts are effective, nickel-based precipitated catalyst powders on proprietary supports, coated in fully hardened vegetable oil and formed into pastilles for ease of handling. Since hydrogenated fats and oils are mainly used in edible applications, BASF produces to all relevant food regulations. Beside being a very demanding application with regard to regulatory aspects, this is ambitious considering the multitude of feedstocks used and the variety of products ranging from shortenings to coating fats. We have just the right catalyst for every feedstock and application ranging from high selectivity/low-transformation for partial hydrogenation to high activity for cost efficient full hydrogenations.

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BASF offers a comprehensive line of Nysofact® catalysts for hydrogenation of fatty acids. Nysofact® products are effective, nickel-based precipitated catalyst powders on proprietary supports, coated in fully-hardened vegetable oil and formed into pastilles for ease of handling.

These nickel catalysts have high activity and excellent filterability and are especially suited to applications requiring full hydrogenation of fatty acids from animal, marine, or vegetable origins. Our fatty acid catalysts of the Nysofact® family show an excellent resistance against Nickel leaching in an acid environment, help to reduce Nickel soap formation and accordingly Nickel contamination of your product. 

Alternatively, precious metal powder catalysts can be used to deliver several potential advantages. Due to the high acid resistance of precious metals, no metal removal or post treatment is needed after catalyst filtration. Compared to Ni catalysts, the activity of precious metal-based catalysts is significantly higher at lower process temperature. Consequently, precious metal-based catalysts can be used at a 10 to 20 times lower metal loading, requiring lower initiation temperatures (80–100 °C) while full activity is reached at 130–150 °C. Under these conditions, exceptionally low iodine values as low as 0.1 can be obtained without difficulty. Finally, catalyst re-use will further reduce the catalyst consumption by 50 to 70%.

The latest innovation in this field are low metal containing catalysts which maintain the high activity per kg of catalyst used. With this new innovation, the metal loading in the reactor can be lowered by an additional 20% further reducing the cost of use of precious metal-based catalysts.

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Production of fatty nitriles and fatty amines from renewable resources represents an attractive pathway to highly specialized chemicals for a broad variety of applications. BASF’s extensive portfolio of Ni and Cu powder catalysts offers multiple commercially proven solutions for our customers slurry phase processes to produce fatty amines. BASF offerings cover the whole value chain from the animal fat and vegetable oil to the fatty amine, either via the fatty nitrile or fatty alcohol route. The field of amines is very complex, and our catalyst makes the difference when you are influencing your selectivity to primary, secondary or tertiary amine and if you want to saturate them or rather leave them unsaturated. BASF's portfolio helps you to steer your process in the desired direction. BASF is the one-stop shop for all fatty amine applications.