Pelargonic Acid

Pelargonic Acid: An Antimicrobial Agent


Pelargonic acid, also known as nonanoic acid, is a 9-carbon fatty acid that occurs naturally in many plants and has promising potential as an antimicrobial agent. With increasing concerns about antibiotic resistance, pelargonic acid is being explored as an alternative natural antimicrobial for various applications.

Chemical Properties and Production

Pelargonic acid is a colorless liquid with a strong disagreeable odor. Its chemical formula is C9H18O2 and it belongs to the group of saturated fatty acids. Naturally, it can be found in various plant oils like oil from the seed of the welsh onion or rapeseed oil in concentrations up to 2%. Pelargonic acid is also produced industrially through hydrogenation of azelaic acid, which is obtained from oleic acid of animal fats. This production process allows for large-scale manufacturing of pelargonic acid.

Antimicrobial Activity

Pelargonic acid has broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity against bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi. Its mechanism of action involves disrupting the cellular membranes of microbes. Specifically, pelargonic acid interacts with the phospholipid bilayer of microbial cell membranes causing increased permeability and subsequent cell death. It has been shown to be effective against problematic pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Minimum inhibitory concentrations ranges from 0.1% to 1% depending on the microorganism. This broad antimicrobial activity makes it appealing for various application.

Uses in Food Processing and Preservation

With its ability to inhibit the growth of foodborne pathogens, pelargonic acid is being used and studied for various applications in the food industry. Some key areas where it shows promise include:

– Meat Processing: Pelargonic Acid can be applied as a spray or rinse on meat and poultry surfaces to reduce pathogens like Salmonella and E.coli. This helps improve food safety.

– Produce Wash: Adding a dilute solution of pelargonic acid to produce wash water aids in reducing risky microbes like Listeria. This step extends shelf-life.

– Seafood Processing: Studies show pelargonic acid effectively eliminates Listeria monocytogenes from the surfaces of fish and shellfish without impacting quality.

– Packaged Foods: As a food additive, pelargonic acid inhibits mold and bacterial growth in foods like cheese, extending their refrigerated shelf-life.

With its ability to control foodborne risks while meeting regulatory standards, pelargonic acid is a promising natural alternative to traditional sanitation methods in various food sectors. However, more research is still needed to optimize its applications.

Use as an Active Ingredient in Household Products

Beyond the food industry, the antimicrobial properties of pelargonic acid allow its use in various cleaning and disinfecting products around the home. Some key examples include:

– General Purpose Cleaners: Products containing 1-2.5% pelargonic acid can help eliminate bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Its odor also masks unpleasant cleaning odors.

– Laundry Sanitizers: Added to the rinse cycle of washing machines, pelargonic acid sanitizes fabrics and helps prevent mildew and odor build up in dryers.

– Hard Surface Disinfectants: Formulations with 1-3% pelargonic acid are effective against coliforms and Salmonella on surfaces like countertops, sinks and toilet bowls.

– Air Fresheners: The mild aroma of pelargonic acid makes it suitable for use in solid and liquid air fresheners where its antimicrobial properties also control mold and bacteria growth on fragrance substrates.

The natural attributes and effectiveness of pelargonic acid position it well as a sustainable alternative to traditional synthetic antimicrobial ingredients in various household and personal care products. This provides an expanding market opportunity.

Pelargonic acid is a promising natural antimicrobial agent with broad activity against bacteria, viruses and fungi. Its ability to inhibit harmful microbes together with regulatory approval levels make it well-suited for use in various sectors from food processing to household cleaning products as a sustainable preservative and disinfectant. With more research underway to optimize its applications, pelargonic acid shows great potential as an alternative to traditional synthetic antimicrobials. Its growing commercial uses reflect increased demand for natural, eco-friendly solutions.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it