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In organic chemistry, Glycerolysis is the process of breaking a chemical bond with the use of glycerin. These reactions are often catalyzed by the addition of an acid or base. Glycerolysis is a special case of esterification or transesterification.

The process may be used for synthesizing emulsifiers or lipophilic surfactants from simple esters, fats, triglycerides, carboxylic acid anhydrides, or free fatty acids. The process is used to make monoglycerides and diglycerides, and, in rare cases, polymers (when Dicarboxylic acids are used).

For example, a methyl ester will react with glycerol to make mono- and diglycerides, with methanol as a byproduct; distillation of the methanol drives the reaction to completion.

The reverse of this process, breaking apart to release glycerin, is saponification or hydrolysis if water is used and is transesterification if a different alcohol or glycol is used.

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