Alejandro G. Marangoni Organic Chemistry

One of the world's leading food scientists studying the structure of fats and oils

"Structure is the ultimate expression of the complexity of nature."

The Story

Marangoni's work at the University of Guelph has provided new insight into the chemical structure of fats and oils. While working to alter the "spreading point" of butter by randomly changing the positions of the fatty acids in butterfat, he created a product with surprising properties. The product retained the structure of butter, with the identical melting point, solids content and crystal structure, yet had a significantly different texture, remaining soft at refrigerator temperature. An explanation for this apparent anomaly lies in the micro- or nano-scale structure of butter and other oils and fats. Marangoni has made major advances in this new field in the last decade.

Marangoni suggested that fat crystal networks are "fractal" in nature, possessing a dimension which is neither 2-D nor 3-D, but somewhere in between. He has compared this to a sheet of paper which can be 2-D (flat) or 3-D (crumpled into a ball) and anywhere between these extremes. It is the way in which the liquid is mixed which determines the structure of the subsequent solid.

Marangoni's research has resulted in ways for food manufacturers to control the melting point of their products which contain milkfat, such as chocolate, confections, butter, margarine and spreads. Marangoni's patented process, the Butterfrac® process, is being marketed by his spin-off company, Fractec R&D, Inc.

Sources: Dr Marangoni's website; NSERC News Release, March 4, 2002. Photo: Dr Marangoni's website.

The Person

January 17, 1965
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Family Members
  • Wife: Dianne Del Zotto
  • Son: Isaac, born 1996
Other Interests
1996 Canadian National Masters Swimming Champion 1998 Ontario Provincial Downriver Whitewater Champion Freestyle kayaking, competitive judo
Associate Professor
Dept. of Food Science, University of Guelph
  • International Baccalaureate, Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific (UWC), Victoria, BC, 1983
  • BSc (Agricultural Chemistry), McGill, 1986
  • PhD (Food Science), U of Guelph, 1989
  • Premier's Research Excellence Award, 1999
  • Young Scientist Research Award (American Oil Chemists Society), 2000
  • Steacie Fellowship (NSERC), 2002
Last Updated
June 17, 2015

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