Among the different extraction techniques used, supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) is one of the oldest and the most used separation technique. The use of supercritical fluids in the extraction of volatile components has increased during the last two decades because of its higher efficiency compared to other extraction methods.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most widely used supercritical fluid. This is because CO2 is cheap, chemically inert, non-toxic, non-flammable and readily available at high purities and at low costs. Besides, the critical point of CO2 is easily accessible (critical temperature 31°C and critical pressure 74 bar) allowing the fluid to be used at mild conditions of temperatures (40-60°C) without leaving harmful organic residues.
With advances in process, equipment and product design and realization of the potentially profitable opportunities in the production of high added value products, industries are becoming more and more interested in supercritical fluid technology. It has found applications in many industrial sectors including food, cosmetics, pharmaceutics, materials, chemistry, energy and waste treatment.
Here are a few innovative applications of supercritical fluid extraction across different industries:
- Food & Beverage Industry
One of the methods to improve the flavor of a beer is to enhance the intensity of the hops. Supercritical CO2 hop-oil extraction enables to obtain hop oil extracts with high concentrations and better quality.
The association of high blood cholesterol levels with heart diseases is the motivating factor in recent works on the reduction of cholesterol levels in consumed meals that include meats, dairy products and eggs using supercritical fluids.
- Pharmaceutical Industry
Among the varied extracts obtained from plants; antioxidants, phytosterols, or even the carotenes, which are used in the pharmaceutical sector, can be easily extracted using supercritical CO2.
Supercritical fluids are utilized for the production of fine powders, in particular for the formulation of active principles. Pierre Fabre Laboratories (France) have developed the production of fine powders by supercritical CO2 and they were awarded the Pierre Potier 2009 “Innovation in chemistry for sustainable development” for its Formulplex process. This process uses supercritical fluids to increase the bioavailability of active principles.
- Medical Cannabis Industry
Supercritical CO2 extraction of cannabis oil is gaining momentum in the USA as the process gives concentrate makers the ability isolate, capture and scientifically understand the medical effects of more elusive cannabinoids besides THC and CBD.
- Wood Industry
Superwood (Denmark) has industrialized the impregnation of wood with fungicides dissolved in supercritical CO2 ensuring a lack of mold, avoiding long baths and saving substantial amounts of fungicides.
- Textile Industry
Conventional textile dying methods pose ecological and economical challenges. This issue can be tackled by using supercritical CO2 as an alternative solvent. FeyeCon (Holland), have been successful in the field of supercritical CO2 dying (DyeCoo process) which has been widely acknowledged and grown steadily since its inception.
- Energy production
Extremely promising developments in the areas of liquefaction and gasification of biomass from agricultural wastes in subcritical and supercritical water has opened up the access to unique and sustainable energy sources.
At Cybernetik Technologies, we have developed completely customizable, state of the art and cost effective SFE systems that match international standards and help businesses in reducing batch times compared to traditional solvent based extraction processes, lower operating costs and achieving higher product purity.
Watch this video to get a closer look at the SFE systems developed at Cybernetik Technologies.