What is the chemical formula of lipids

Lipids and fatty acids: structure + production (chemistry)

Most people don't like it that much on the body, but they prefer it in food: lipids or, colloquially, fats. In addition to carbohydrates and proteins, they form the third elementary macronutrient in our food. Fats are essential for survival, as they supply the body with energy through fat deposits and cover vital organs with a protective layer.

Construction and manufacture

In general, lipids are triglycerides that are made by reacting an alcohol with a carboxylic acid. The individual fatty acids are linked to the glycerine by an ester compound. So a fat consists of glycerine and fatty acid esters.

As can be seen in Figure 1, the formation of a triglyceride from glycerine and a fatty acid is an ester condensation reaction, in which water is split off. The ester bond is created between C-O-C. There are 3 water molecules for every triglyceride molecule produced.

The fatty acids, which are each marked in red, also occur unchanged in the triglyceride.

Saturated and unsaturated fatty acids

When it comes to fatty acids, a distinction can be made between saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. The saturated fatty acids do not have a double bond between two carbon atoms. They have the general molecular formula CnH2n + 1COOH and form a homologous series.

In the case of the unsaturated fatty acid, however, there is a double bond, whereby the fatty acid gets a kink. An example of an unsaturated fatty acid is oleic acid.

Saponification of fats

We use soaps to wash our bodies, clothes and many other important things. They are made by saponifying fats. A lye is added to a triglyceride. This then forms glycerine and fatty acid salts, also known as soaps. A process for the production of soaps or fatty acid salts, as they are also called, can be seen in Figure 5.

Soaps belong to the group of surfactants. The surfactants are characterized by the fact that they are amphiphilic in character, i.e. they dissolve in both non-polar and polar solvents.

This can be explained by the fact that the fatty acid residues of a soap are non-polar, whereas the end is polar. In Figure 6, the non-polar remainder is marked in green, the polar part in red.

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