Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Final Activity Report Summary - INTSUPECO2 (Integration model of two supercritical CO2-based processes: encapsulation and impregnation on/of lipidic matrices)

Carbon dioxide at high pressures and temperatures just above room temperature can be used as a solvent. It has been particularly useful to extract natural compounds from plant materials and, subsequently, to formulate these compounds into products. This project focused on two target compounds: solanesol from tobacco leaves, and policosanols from sugar cane.

Solanesol is a biochemical precursor of the well-known coenzyme Q10, an anti-oxidant used in cosmetics, functional foods and food additives. It is abundant in tobacco leaves, but before being used, it must of course be separated from nicotine. This project optimized conditions to extract solanesol from tobacco leaves with minimum co-extraction of nicotine. A new process was also invented to separate the small remaining quantities of nicotine from solanesol.

As to policosanols, they are in fact a family of 'long chain alcohols' (solid, waxi compounds). They are also used as food additives due their beneficial properties (they are thought to lower cholesterol and triglyceride in blood). They are difficult to dissolve in most normal solvents (water and ethanol, for instance). In this project, a new combination of processes was studied, whereby an organic solvent was used to extract policosanols from sugar-cane molasses, and high pressure carbon dioxide was used as an anti-solvent to precipitate them from the solution as a solid powder.

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