The impact of esterification on odor
This month it’s ‘Odor October’ on our Perstorp Animal Nutrition social media channels! Odor has a pivotal role in animal nutrition. Feed that smells nice may improve feed uptake and results by extension. Unpleasantly smelling feed may have the opposite effect. Though what smells unappealing to us may not necessarily be avoided by animals.
Organic acids in their pure form tend to fall in the ‘bad smell’ category. Some are even considered driving forces for dictionary examples of bad smell. That is why we are proud to have spearheaded innovations that have eliminated the smell issues for several organic acids used in animal nutrition. Organic acids such as propionic acid and butyric acid have smells that range from bothersome to downright impossible to work with. How did we accomplish this? By esterification.
Simply put, esters are derivatives from combining acids and alcohols. The esters we create from propionic, butyric and valeric acids are called glycerides because they are created with the alcohol glycerol. They are essentially fats. Fats aren’t volatile the way organic acids are. No evaporation means no molecules in the air, which in turn means no smell.
Of course there’s a little more to it than that, but in a nutshell that is how esterification allows us to produce products that have the benefits of organic acids without the handling challenges. Besides smell reduction esterification also helps to reduce corrosivity, enables specific release of butyric acid in the intestines of pigs and poultry and improves the time that propionic acid can remain active as a mold inhibitor.
Interestingly enough, the esters of organic acids – butyric and valeric acid most notably – are actually often used in perfumes. But more on that later!