Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE) is rapidly replacing the conventional solvent extraction of botanical actives. SFE uses food grade CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) for extraction at ambient temperature, preserving bio synergy of the botanical actives.
Increasing consumer awareness is pressing the natural extraction industry to use “green” technologies like SFE compared to chemical solvent technology. The eco-friendly SFE is nature-fresh, has no chemical residues, pathogens and heavy metals, and importantly has extended shelf-life.
The most common use today is the decaffeination of coffee and tea, extraction of hop components for beer flavouring, and extraction of active ingredients, essential oils, flavours and aromas from botanicals including spices. SFE can also remove residual organic solvents or impurities, like pesticides from final active ingredients. Stricter safety regulations in the developed countries regarding the use of organic solvents (e.g. hexane) and zero tolerance for residual chemicals in the final product to address safety, health and environmental issues is forcing the natural product industry to go the SFE way. Novel uses of SFE in food processing include controlling puffing in extrusion of cereals, removal of excess hexane from edible oils, like palm, soy bean and sunflower, and also the removal of lipid-containing compounds from whole eggs, fish and animal tissues.
Photo Courtesy: Deven Supercritical Pvt. Ltd.