Using Supercritical Fluids for the Extraction of Natural Products
The term natural products has become the "catch-all" for any compound that has been produced by a living being, e.g. plant, animal, algae. The extracted compounds are used in, or are themselves, foods, medicinals, pigments, fragrances. The process for many years was to extract from the matrix material by solvents: aqueous and petroleum based. The first large scale use of supercritical fluids in extracting natural products was the decaffeination of coffee in 1979 and since then thousands of compounds have been extracted commercially.
Why the interest in using supercritical fluids (i.e. CO2)?
- No Solvent residue. No health hazard. Maintains a "natural" state.
SCF CO2 extracts the various natural compounds more efficiently than petroleum based solvents, but upon returning to an ambient state, the CO2 becomes a gas, leaving no residue.
- Mild Extraction Conditions – 31°C temperature
With temperatures less than body temperature (37°C), little thermal degradation of sensitive compounds occurs. (See phase diagram.)
- Fractionation - easy using only CO2: CO2 is a “tunable solvent”
Load the feedstock into an extraction vessel only once and then by only changing pressure of the SCF CO2, you can make it have the solubility characteristics of a myriad of petroleum based solvents. You don’t need to add or change solvents.
Want to learn more? Contact us and we'll help you incorporate Green Chemistry with Supercritical Fluids into your processes!
Read about the other ways SCF is being used. Supercritical Fluids will change the way you work!
Applied Separations offers a full line of SFE systems to meet the needs in your laboratory.
Spe-ed SFE Prime
Applied Separations has created the first teaching tool for Supercritical Fluids. Safe and affordable, this instrument is perfect for the classroom.
Supercritical Fluids (SCF) Education
As thought-leaders in the world of Supercritical Fluids, Applied Separations strikes to share its knowledge and experience to further the use of Supercricial Fluids.
Applied Separations has the instruments you need in your laboratory to handle the most complex to the most straight-forward SCF projects.
Pilot Plants: Small Production
The basic supercritical pilot plant is a "no frills" caster-mounted system for the budgetminded. You, as the user, determine the size of the system...
Industrial Scale Production
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Metal Injection Molding
Supercritical Fluids will revolutionize the debinding process.
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What is SCF?
Carbon dioxide is in its supercritical fluid state when both the temperature and pressure equal or exceed the critical point of 31°C and 73 atm (see diagram). In its supercritical state, CO2 has both gas-like and liquid-like qualities, and it is this dual characteristic of supercritical fluids that provides the ideal conditions for extracting compounds with a high degree of recovery in a short period of time.
By controlling or regulating pressure and temperature, the density, or solvent strength, of supercritical fluids can be altered to simulate organic solvents ranging from chloroform to methylene chloride to hexane. This dissolving power can be applied to purify, extract, fractionate, infuse, and recrystallize a wide array of materials. Because CO2 is non-polar, a polar organic co-solvent (or modifier) can be added to the supercritical fluid for processing polar compounds. By controlling the level of pressure/ temperature/ modifier, supercritical CO2 can dissolve a broad range of compounds, both polar and non-polar.