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iBiosys - Healthy World - Supercritical Fluid Extraction

SCF Industry Uses

Food Extractions

Food Extractions

No solvent residue. No health hazards.


Demand for safe foods has led to stringent government regulations on the use of organic solvents in the food processing industry.

The need to replace toxic organic solvents with an environmentally benign, non-flammable, and inexpensive alternative has led to the rapid development of supercritical CO2 technology in the food industry. The supercritical CO2 process is cleaner, and the extracts obtained have a longer shelf life and better blending characteristics due to co-extraction of antioxidants and lipids.

Previously, chlorinated solvents were used for extraction of hops and the decaffeination of coffee, resulting in residual toxic solvents remaining in the food products. Chlorinated solvents are now banned in the food industry, but other solvents are still in use today. For example, hexane is the solvent most commonly used for the extraction of oil from oilseeds.

However, in the UK, the residual hexane content in food products must be less than 30 ppm for products like soya, and in oil from oilseeds, less than 1 ppm*. In Japan and Europe, even 30 ppm hexane in extracts is to be banned. A similar trend is observed in other applications using different organic solvents as well. As a result, organic solvent extraction processes are being phased out by many manufacturers.


iBiosys - Food Extractions using Supercritical Fluids
iBiosys - Decaffeination of coffee bySupercritical Fluid Extraction

Advantages of supercritical fluid extraction

Eliminate toxic residues. Reduce energy costs.


The main advantages of supercritical fluid extraction over conventional solvent extraction are:

  • CO2 requires only moderate temperatures of operation

  • CO2 is non-toxic, non-flammable, and Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS)

  • CO2 is a volatile solvent and upon depressurization, no toxic solvent residues remain in the product

  • CO2 has good mass transfer, due to the low viscosity of the solvent

  • CO2 is a selective solvent based upon its variable density (e.g. extraction of caffeine from green coffee without removal of flavour precursors)

  • CO2 has a low overall energy expenditure and there is no energy consumption for desolventizing an extract.

Commercial-scale food applications

No solvent residue. No health hazards. 

The main commercial-scale food applications using supercritical CO2 processing are:

  • Extraction of hops for beer production

  • Decaffeination of coffee and tea

  • Separation of Free Fatty Acids from vegetable oils

  • Fractionation of polyunsaturated fatty acids

  • Fatty Acids from animal lipids

  • Refining and deodorization of vegetable oils

  • Recovery of antioxidants (vitamins E and A)

  • Fractionation of glycerides

  • Extraction of oil from oil-bearing materials

  • Deoiling and purification of lecithin

  • Decholesterolization of butter, egg, fish and meat muscle

  • Deoiling of snack-foods

  • Spice extracts (oil and oleoresin)

  • Flavours and fragrances extraction

  • Extraction of natural food colours

  • Extraction of natural food preservatives

  • Natural extraction of Herbs for natural medicines

  • Extraction of natural pesticides from Neem

  • Production of cholesterol-free food products

iBiosys - Supercritical Fluid Extraction of fat from chocolate
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