Monday, December 7, 2020

Congratulations to newly minted Emeritus AOCS member: Albert Dijkstra

Each year the AOCS Governing Board has the honor of approving long-term members for Emeritus status. Emeritus Members are those members who either meet qualifications for Retired Member and have completed 35 years of membership in the Society or are Retired Members who have served as a past President, won the AOCS Award of Merit winner or A.R. Baldwin Distinguished Service Award winner and have been accepted as an Emeritus Member with the approval of two-thirds of the Governing Board.

AOCS membership dues are free for the rest of Emeritus members' lives. 

In 2021, 16 long-term members achieved Emeritus membership, which serves as recognition for the hard work and dedication to AOCS. To close out the year, we will be spotlighting many of them. 

Meet Albert Dijkstra

A brief biography: 
After my Ph.D. in Leyden, the Netherlands in gas kinetics, I started to work for Imperial Chemical Industry in research in the United Kingdom, as a chief chemist at the Rozenburg Works, the Netherlands, and as a senior R&D project leader at ICI Europa in Belgium. In 1978, I joined the Vandemoortele Group, a vertically integrated, family-owned oils and fats company in Belgium, as R&D Director.  This work led to a dozen patents in the fields of interesterification, degumming, neutralization, fractionation of triglycerides and phosphatides, and frying oils. When this company sold its oil mills and refineries, its R&D laboratory was disbanded and I started to work at home as a consultant, author, editor and lecturer at Short Courses. These courses were often before a conference, so I continued to attend these conferences and regularly presented papers. So, I kept up to date with the developments in edible oil processing.

Can you tell us about your current or past research?

Gas kinetics involves a mathematical approach to chemical phenomena. It is therefore not surprising that my past and current research reflects this mathematical approach:

  1. I designed a system for linear programming of fat blends that saved my employer more than my R&D laboratory cost.
  2. After we established that a dry filter cake still contained 70% liquid oil, I developed a dry fractionation process by removing this oil centrifugally. This provided CBE grade fractions.
  3. I suggested a mechanism of the hydrogenation of triglyceride oils after demonstrating experimentally that the hydrogen concentration is not constant but increases during a run.
  4. I reinterpreted the literature data of the copper-catalyzed hydrogenation and suggested a novel mechanism as a result.
  5. I found fault with the commonly accepted mechanism of the base-catalyzed interesterification reaction and suggested a mechanism that takes care of these shortcomings.
  6. I extended this mechanism to the transesterification process to produce biodiesel.
  7. I provided mathematical proof that a partially interesterified reaction mixture can also be arrived at by mixing the starting reaction mixture with the randomized reaction product.
  8. I provided an Excel spreadsheet that allows the composition of an interesterification mixture of triglycerides, glycerol and propylene glycol to be calculated while taking esterification preferences into account.
  9. By determining the Oil Stability Index (OSI) of a large number of two-component blends, I could arrive at the conclusion that this OSI is only determined by the fatty acid composition of the blend and the antioxidant contents of the components.  

What was your reaction when you learned you had been made an emeritus member?

I was elated, told my wife and then immediately sent an email to my children.

Can you share your favorite memory or story from your AOCS membership?

I really enjoyed the barbecue held during the AOCS annual meeting in Phoenix. I met several people there (Ted Mag, Monoj Gupta, Werner Zschau and others) with whom I engaged in heated discussions and with whom I kept in contact for a long time. We were always glad to meet again at AOCS annual meetings.

Another instance was my presentation during the Budapest AOCS World Conference in 1992 about the degumming, neutralization and drying of oils. It was very well received, and many people came to see me afterward.

Learn more about different types of AOCS membership.

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