Man's physical universe

xanabras

PHOTOSYNTHESIS STORES ENERGY 723

the building materials for animal protoplasm, while carbohydrates

and fats furnish animal fuel. Rearrangements of the atoms within

carbohydrates produce fats and oils. Fats and oils are mainly storage

products that serve as important energy reserves for plants and

animals.

Vegetable and animal fats and oils are mixtures of glycerol esters

of certain acids, such as butyric, palmitic, stearic, and oleic acids.

An ester is the product of the action of an organic acid with an alcohol

(glycerol, C3H5(OH)3, is a trihydric alcohol), in which water is likewise

formed. The various fats and oils, such as butter fat, lard, olive oil,

cottonseed oil, linseed oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, sesame seed oil,

castor oil, tung oil, etc., differ chiefly in the relative amounts of the

above esters which they contain.

Vegetable and animal fats and oils are very important not only as

foods but also as paint vehicles and the raw materials for soaps. Soaps

are soluble metallic salts of the above acids, produced by the saponification

of the corresponding fats and oils. The action of alkalies such

as sodium hydroxide, NaOH, on a fat or oil to produce a soap and glycerol

is called saponification.

The unsaturated oleic acid which predominates in oils may be hydrogenated

to produce stearic acid, which along with palmitic acid

predominates in solid fats. Hydrogenation thus changes such oils as

cocoanut oil, fish oils, or cottonseed oil to such solid fats as are found

in margarine, "Crisco," and other cooking fats.

According to one estimate, the entire world's production of fats and oils is

32,000,000 tons per year, about 83 per cent of which is used for foods for man

and other animals, 10 per cent for soap, and the remaining 7 per cent for

paint and other uses.

The Products of American Farms Are Coining into Use as Industrial

Raw Materials.

In one year the E. I. du Pont de Nemours Company alone used

23,000,000 pounds of fats and oils, and corn products representing the

yield from 1,400,000 acres.

The Ford Motor Company has used soybean protein to produce

fibers on an experimental basis for the upholstery in Ford cars. It

also uses soybean oil (600,000 gallons in 1940) to the extent of 35 per

cent in its car finishes and soybean meal (400,000 pounds in 1937)

to produce plastic molding compounds, cases for steel molds, and

foundry sand cores. The Ford factories are painted with a soybeanoil

paint.

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