Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Lesser tobacco chemical compounds for healthier smoking

A new revolutionary method for cutting down toxic protein compounds reduces smoke condensate in tobacco, while preserving its taste and aroma.
Lesser tobacco chemical compounds for healthier smoking
Tobacco smoke is notoriously infamous for containing thousands of chemical compounds, some of which are cancer-causing substances. Scientists argue that the various forms of tobacco that are smoked - cigarettes, pipes, and cigars - can cause lung cancer, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases.

An Italian research company discovered a method for reducing such precursor compounds of toxic molecules from tobacco smoke, with no loss of nicotine or significant changes in the taste of smoke. The process is divided into three steps: extraction, separation and restoration of nicotine and flavours.

At first, the technology uses an ethanol extract in order to extract toxic molecules from tobacco, namely proteins, peptides, amino acids and lipids, which are insoluble in supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2). Their composition and molecular weight helps separate undesirable protein compounds from extracted alkaloids, soluble to SC-CO2 like nicotine and flavouring substances.

Separation is carried out by a Supercritical Anti-solvent (SAS) apparatus, to which the ethanol extract is fed and fractionated, obtaining a solid precipitate and two ethanol residues. Reduction of protein compounds brings a 40% reduction to cigarette smoke condensate. Finally, the ethanol residue is added from the second separator to extracted tobacco smoke. As a result, it preserves the smoke's taste and fragrance.

The company invites co-operation partners willing to exploit the technology to its full potential and give avid smokers the chance, if they cannot resist the temptation of a cigarette, to at least get their kick out of it with a lesser health risk.
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