Methyl stearate is a long chain of fatty acid methyl ester with a molecular formula of C19H38O2. The organic compound is highly combustible and readily dissolves in organic solution. The formation of fatty acid methyl ester is based from the esterification between fatty acid and a methyl group. The melting point and boiling point of the compound is at 37°C and 443°C respectively. The chemical reacts strongly with acid and caustic solution to generate heat.
Methyl stearate is fabricated from the chemical reaction process called esterification. The reaction requires stearic acid and methanol to be added to a kettle with para-toluene sulfonic acid. The reaction proceeds with zinc oxide as a catalyst and heated to 100 degrees centigrade for 3 hours. Meanwhile, methanol is continuously added from the bottom part of the compartment. Afterwards, the mixture is cooled to 50 degrees centigrade and washed with sodium bicarbonate and water until neutralize. The aqueous mixture is purified through negative pressure distillation to remove water. The remaining liquid in the distillation chamber is the desired methyl stearate.
Methyl stearate is utilize as a surfactant. The compound has the ability to reduce surface tension of water and allows oil and water-based material to emulsify. On the other hand, methyl stearate is a good emulsifier. The compound is able to stabilize colloidal particles that usually separates.
Methyl stearate is often used as a feedstock material that are nutritious to farm animals. The energy the compound provides are sufficient in growing cattle and other herbivorous farm animals. On the other hand, methyl stearate is naturally used as a flavoring agent in the food industry. Methyl stearate is the flavor component of cassava, gari, farine, and clove.
Methyl stearate is currently being developed as a source of fuel alternative to petrochemical. The chemical compound is considered as a biodiesel that has high amount of cetane number than other biodiesel fuel. Hence, methyl stearate high energy content allows the compound to be treated as an energy source.