Researchers of Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands have developed a new clean, process to isolate valuable or undesired components from solids, such as components for food products. In contrast to other conventional processes, the new invention concerns a continuous process that can be controlled easily and secondly, leads to higher extraction yields.
Many odours and flavours are extracted from plant tissues by dissolving in organic solvents, such as hexane and alcohols. Subsequently, the solvent is evaporated after which the target components remain as pure product. From an environmental point of view and regarding food safety, the use of organic solvents is not always desired.
In the new process, which is developed in the framework of an European Union project C-REX, carbon dioxide is used as a solvent. In this process the carbon dioxide is compressed extensively, which gives it properties that are comparable to both solid and liquid, i.e. the so-called supercritical phase. The application of compressed carbon dioxide instead of organic solvents results in a cleaner extraction process. Carbon dioxide is a gas that is abundantly available in the atmosphere.
Jac Niessen | alfa
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