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J Agric Food Chem. 2006 Dec 13;54(25):9535-43.

Elucidation of structural isomers from the homogeneous rhodium-catalyzed isomerization of vegetable oils.

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Department of Chemistry, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.


The structural isomers formed by the homogeneous rhodium-catalyzed isomerization of several vegetable oils have been elucidated. A detailed study of the isomerization of the model compound methyl linoleate has been performed to correlate the distribution of conjugated isomers, the reaction kinetics, and the mechanism of the reaction. It has been shown that [RhCl(C8H8)2]2 is a highly efficient and selective isomerization catalyst for the production of highly conjugated vegetable oils with a high conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) content, which is highly desirable in the food industry. The combined fraction of the two major CLA isomers [(9Z,11E)-CLA and (10E,12Z)-CLA] in the overall CLA mixture is in the range from 76.2% to 93.4%. The high efficiency and selectivity of this isomerization method along with the straightforward purification process render this approach highly promising for the preparation of conjugated oils and CLA. Proposed improvements in catalyst recovery and reusability will only make this method more appealing to the food, paint, coating, and polymer industries in the future.

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