Tall Oil Uses & Benefits
Tall Oil Uses & Benefits

Tall Oil Uses & Benefits

  • 27-Feb-2023 6:05 PM
  • Journalist: Shiba Teramoto

Since the energy crisis of the 1970s, Research on Biodiesel as an alternative to petroleum diesel has been ongoing. Concern over the consequences of using edible vegetable oils as feedstock has grown beyond belief. Tall Oil Fatty Acids (TOFA) have been investigated in various ways as a non-food alternative. Tall Oil, which is also known as liquid rosin or Tallol, is a viscous, odorous, yellow-black liquid produced as a by-product of the kraft process, which is used to make wood pulp, primarily from coniferous trees. After lignin and hemicellulose, Tall Oil is the third-largest chemical by-product in a kraft mill. High alkalinity and temperature in the kraft process transform the esters and carboxylic acids in rosin into soluble sodium soaps made of lignin, rosin, and fatty acids.

The pulp and paper industry has had to greatly diversify the range of its end products as a result of recent developments in the bio-economy regarding the divergence from fossil fuels and a rise in sustainability criteria. In addition, a shift away from paper and towards other value-added products like biofuels and by-products has been brought on by a decline in demand for conventional pulp and paper products. The profitability of pulp mills is also boosted by expanding their end-product offerings, allowing for a competitive market with an increasing demand for Research & Development (R&D). In kraft pulp mills, this is clearly seen.

Since the early 1900s, Tall Oil has been used as a by-product of wood production in its Crude form Crude Tall Oil (CTO). The kraft pulping process results in the formation of sulfuric acid, which is used to acidify Tall Oil soap to create CTO. While the separation of Tall Oil soap from black liquor is not totally effective, there is also residual black liquor and some lignin in the reaction mixture. CTO is a brown, viscous, and unpleasant-smelling substance that can be used both in its raw and refined forms as adhesives, detergents, drilling fluids, and additives for asphalt.   

Depending on the kind of wood used in its manufacture, CTO composition varies in a considerable manner. The acid number is a typical way to evaluate the quality of Tall Oil. Although mills utilizing a combination of softwoods and hardwoods may produce acid numbers in the range of 125–135, pure pines may provide numbers in the range of 160–165. Traditionally, Crude Tall Oil contains rosins, which are made up of resin acids (primarily abietic acid and its isomers), fatty acids (primarily palmitic acid, oleic acid, and linoleic acid), and fatty alcohols, as well as some sterols, unsaponifiable sterols (5-10%), and other derivatives of alkyl hydrocarbons. Tall Oil rosin is produced through fractional distillation, with a 10-35% reduction in rosin concentration. TOFA, which is inexpensive, primarily made of oleic acid, and a source of volatile fatty acids, can be produced by further reducing the rosin concentration to 1–10%.

Up to the latter half of 2014, the expense of petroleum products remained on the rise, and greenhouse gases were still being produced, contributing greatly to global warming and having a detrimental effect on the environment. With this trend, it became necessary to tap additional energy sources, which is when renewable energy came into play. Just as significant as the energy source is the energy storage. Because the supply and demand of energy fluctuate over time or are out of balance, energy storage becomes extremely crucial. Home heating, cooking, washing, lighting, and running the computer, among other domestic uses, all require energy, and its sources have been varied, ranging from wood to coal to natural gas to petroleum, etc.    

TOFA has been considered for use as a feedstock in the synthesis of Biodiesel despite the fact that they are non-edible due to the presence of additional contaminants like sulfuric acid. Because it is a clean, renewable, and biodegradable source of energy, Biodiesel, which is mostly made from methyl and ethyl esters of fatty acids, is currently receiving a lot of attention for research. The third-largest chemical by-product of the pulp and paper industry, CTO, is regarded as the best fuel for Biodiesel synthesis. TOFA, a combination of almost pure Free Fatty Acids (FFA), can be created by distilling CTO. Tall Oil is a sustainable source of raw materials for the manufacturing of Biodiesel since it is plentiful, accessible, and readily available. Continuous research is going on newer sources of Biodiesel as well as advancements in the conversion processes as the need for naturally produced fatty acid-based biofuel rises.     

Unlike other plant-derived substitutes, CTO is less susceptible to seasonal variations because it is made from pine trees. This, along with our top-notch Bio-refineries, allows for outstanding composition uniformity and consistent high quality. Compared to vegetable substitutes, CTO is natural, biobased, and has a lower overall carbon footprint. Food-producing plants like soybeans or palm are not in competition with or displaced by CTO. Additional varieties of Tall Oil include:

Tall Oil Fatty Acids (TOFA)TOFA offers distinctive levels of unsaturation and fatty acid distribution and is employed in a wide range of industrial applications. The top tiers of its many benefits include light color, good lubricity, color and oxidative stability, and low-temperature qualities. It is used in oilfield chemicals, detergents/surfactants, alkyd resins, fuel additives, etc.

Distilled Tall Oil (DTO) - Distilled Tall Oil is a great alternative for functional items, including metalworking fluids, oilfield chemicals, soaps, cleansers, and alkyd resins since it contains 10 to 40% rosin acids.

Tall Oil Rosins (TOR) – It is a key bio-refinery product made from CTO. TOR and its derivatives are well suited for a range of uses, including tackifying agents for tapes and hot-melt adhesives, bonding agents in printing ink and road marking paint, emulsifiers in the manufacture of rubber, and paper treatment agents.   

The largest producer of Tall Oil, accounting for over 60% of global production, is Europe. More than 25% of the approximately 650 thousand tonnes of Tall Oil produced in Europe come from Finland alone, followed by Sweden, Germany, and Norway. Metsä Fibre, Forchem, UPM biofuels, and others are notable producers of Tall Oil for Biodiesel. Fintoil, Finland's 200-thousand-tonne biorefinery, is scheduled to open in 2023 and is expected to be the largest biorefinery in the world. It will be used to meet Europe's need for Biodiesel made from Tall Oil.

Fintoil is a business that uses raw pine oils to create industrial materials like biofuels, adhesives, inks, and even health and wellness products. This will replace fossil-based raw materials with sustainable ones. Being a leading global player in the specialty chemical industry, Fintoil strives to be the most innovative. 

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