E. coli produces fatty alcohols with even carbon chain lengths, predominantly C14, C16, and C18. However, commercial applications of fatty alcohols can have branched and linear chains. To improve their conversion rate, biocatalysts that display several different enzymes can be used. Listed below are some examples of these biocatalysts. Each one has a specific substrate preference.
The production of fatty alcohols requires several enzymes and intermediates. Enzymes that catalyze the process include carboxylic acid reductase, fatty aldehyde-forming reductase, and acyl-CoA reductase. These enzymes convert fatty acids to fatty alcohols. They can also be manufactured by engineering microbial cells. A review of the enzymes involved in fatty alcohol synthesis can be found in the references below.
Aside from their chemical structure, fatty alcohols have many uses. Their application ranges from personal care products to fragrances and perfumes. They are also used in plastic molds, metal production, and perfumery. They can also be used as emulsion polymerization agents, release agents, and liquid pool covers. They can also be used as flavor enhancers, thickening agents, detergent boosters, and textile auxiliaries.
Most fatty alcohols are derived from triglycerides. These are produced by bacteria, plants, and animals. Fatty alcohols are useful in thermal insulation, buoyancy, and metabolism. Until the early 1900s, fatty alcohols were unavailable in nature. Then, through the process known as Bouveault-Blanc reduction, they became available for human consumption. The process involves hydrogenating vegetable oils to produce fatty alcohols.