SCF Applications

Realizing the organization of production platform on applications, this technology allows:

  • Realization of high-quality and high-performance products, depending on the features of the technology, features identified as follows:
    • Extracts from plants for use in food, cosmetic, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical industry
    • Fractions of an extract concentrated with active ingredients (e.g., palm oil fraction concentrated in tocopherol or vitamin E)
    • Pasteurization processes at room temperature (30° C) for natural drinks and dealcoholization with simultaneous preservation of the aromas characteristic for alcoholic beverage
    • High-value ingredients from waste products: polyphenols and antioxidants from vegetable water, tomato waste for highly active molecules, a desolate meal for dietary products
  • Replacement of conventional processes by reducing environmental impact and significantly improving the life quality of workers (e.g., for the removal of toxic substances)
  • Product innovation with a significant increase in the effectiveness and safety of the products enhancing the penetration in international markets.
  • Development of a lot of patents, thanks to innovative features. This technology can really help to increase the development of the industrial business and raise the attention of the markets.
  • Development of a strong correlation between the technology used and the territory around it by several factors:
    • Versatile technology – suitable for application in many industrial sectors
    • Ability to influence the development of the entire agricultural value chain for waste products integration and high versatility expressed in many different industrial applications
    • In this case, we do not propose a structural intervention in association with the farming systems, but a direct action on the chain of basic foodstuffs for the food, confectionery and nutraceutical industry for:
      • Oils from seeds, wheat germ, soy flour, almonds, characterized in antioxidants
        • eg. beta-sitosterol from almond oil
        • eg. tocopherol from wheat germ
      • Polar compounds and water-soluble extracts from soy
        • eg. soy isoflavones from supplements for menopausal women
      • Exhausted meal for healthy-food

If we de-grease a meal with SFE (e.g., soybean meal) we get a product in which (as opposed to a standard meal) caloric intake is reduced by 20–25%. The protein content increased by 35.87%, fiber increased by 24.30%. This new food is very interesting in terms of diet and health.

After desolation, flour may be further treated in a supercritical phase together with water as a co-solvent to obtain:
  • Isoflavones from desolated soybean meal
    • eg. for the treatment of the effects of menopause
    • In addition to isoflavones, there are other substances of interest also in the soybean meal (eg. lignans for the treatment and prevention of prostatitis in men)
  • De-grease flour (through a process pioneered by Exenia with supercritical fluids) can be obtained after the desolation
  • Extracts concentrated in glycon isoflavones to be processed in flavonoids aglycones that have a better assimilation.
    • These are phytoestrogens that have a high demand from the market of women over 50.
  • Additionally, the oil extracted is very interesting and may have greater value on the market thanks to the SFE method.
    • Qualitative parameters (acid value, peroxide, iodine)
    • Ability to extract components which normally do not go out of the matrix with the standard processes (e.g., beta-carotene and vitamin E)
    • High value is given to soybean meal and all products derived from soybean meal

New Food Products Align With Market Trends

The technical quality of the extract and flour desolate by SFE will promote a series of new products, in line with current market trends, with the following features:

  • Functional Food: as defined by the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences as foods that include active substances or other materials as soybean oil (especially if organic) extracted with SFE that are able to: provide health benefits, and vehicle specific nutritional properties.
  • New Food: You can define them as foods or food ingredients not used in significant terms for human consumption or produced by other processes that involve a significant change in the composition, in the nutritional value and in the use expected.

And this is the case of de-oiled soy flour (made from SFE) for its high protein concentration (> 46%) and the almost total absence of fat and cholesterol (e.g., a healthy dessert).

In fact, the quality of these meals for the properties of soy oil extraction with SFE are:

  • Good features of desirability and palatability
  • Organoleptic high quality
  • High concentration in fiber and protein as a consequence of desolation
  • No fat or low-fat content
  • Very low bacteria load and long shelf life due to the high pressures (In the extraction process CO2 is brought to 300-350 bar with a simultaneous inactivation of bacteria by the same CO2 that enters the bacteria and destroys the bacteria itself, due to the internal and external pressure differential).

The impact on the quality of the soy product chain (extraction made with SFE) is not only about oil and flour-based products but also due to the increased quality of raw materials: as for wheat and almonds, they can be made with similar treatment effects in different sectors.

As for almonds: oil use has been almost exclusively in the cosmetic industry as a base raw material for skin creams, while the flour is a basic element for the production of sweets. In the case of almonds, de-grease flour is very interesting for the production of fresh and health-conscious diet. Moreover, the films of almonds and hazelnuts for their content of carotenoids and antioxidants (e.g., gallic acid) are a waste of great interest, both directly extracting the oil from the films and in co-extraction together with flour.

As for wheat and wheat germ (which, together with bran is typically removed from mills or used as feed for livestock), if treated with supercritical fluids, receives its full value. The oil already extracted is the basis many supplements for its vitamin E and polyunsaturated fatty acids, while the flour, now being quickly eliminated because of its propensity to rancidity due to the presence of oil, may become the basic element for health products for the consistent presence of protein. SCF provides a quality of treatment that does not alter its organoleptic qualities.

Extracting Antibacterials from Plants

The objectives of the application developed for extraction of antibacterial principles from plants are as follows:

  • Eco-friendly technology – Breaking down or significantly reduce the use of toxic substances in methods of production of antibacterial agents from natural sources through the use of an eco-friendly technology
  • Replacing synthetic antibacterial with natural origin antibiotics in various fields, from livestock to the same treatment of humans – The constant use of synthetic antibiotics, in fact, may cause the rising of antibiotic resistance, the emergence of super-infections and other diseases related to a considerable use of these synthetic drugs. This phenomenon is particularly important if it’s related to the possibility that the use of synthetic antimicrobial agents can cause the emergence of antibiotic resistance in human pathogenic micro-organism.
  • Obtain safer final product – as a result of the elimination of the phenomenon of resistance of pathogens to synthetic antibiotics that can be transferred to humans if synthetic antibacterial substances are used in animal husbandry.

Basil Antibacterial Testing: Extraction tests carried out on basil made it possible to develop a new configuration of the supercritical machinery, oriented to the extraction of more volatile compounds (eg. terpenes), able to obtain a total extract of all substances which together have an effective antibacterial action. Extracts are very similar in nature to those compounds that are effective in antibacterial action. Extracts from basil with SCF method have been tested on colonies of vibrios with the effect of disabling bacterial twice synthetic antibiotic. These results have been used to develop this new technology and product facilities specialized in this application.

The plants that have antibacterial principles are:

  • Basil: It’s already been shown that the essential oil of basil (only CO2 extract) is very effective as an antibacterial. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) accumulates phenylpropene in the peltoid glands essentially as eugenol and methyl eugenol. Its activity, however, is connected to the species of basil and the extraction method used. These two factors, in fact, strongly influence the chemical composition of the extract giving or not giving it the antibacterial activity.
  • Echinacea: the most important chemical constituents are represented by polysaccharides, glycoproteins, flavonoids, caffeic acid derivatives (acid and chicoric echinacoside), polyenes, alchilammidi, and an essential oil. The essential oil is believed to be responsible for the antibacterial properties of Echinacea.
  • Propolis: Flavonoids, particularly galangin (which is rich in propolis collected in deciduous forests) and pinocembrina (mainly present in propolis originating from conifers), give the propolis its antimicrobial and antifungal properties. In particular, it has good efficacy against Gram-negative enterobacteria, demonstrated by the MIC (Minimal Inhibitory Concentration) very low (about 7.5 g/ml). Based on laboratory tests [Ali Mears, 1997], it was shown that the flavonoids galangin and pinocembrina are the main culprits hydroalcoholic extract exhibited the antibacterial activity of propolis.
  • Aloe Vera: Aloe is a plant rich in nutrients such as vitamins, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phenylalanine. Aloe has also remarkable properties such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antibacterial, promotes cell regeneration and wound epidermis. The Aloe Vera also contains anthraquinones which have a broad spectrum of functions: they are powerful antibiotics with bactericidal, antiviral, analgesic and laxative properties.
  • Garlic: The antibacterial properties of garlic are derived from the active ingredient allicin and its sulfur derivatives, which have been identified and characterized. Many of the bacteria, sensitive to allicina, do not develop resistance against it; in addition, many of the bacteria sensitive to garlic extracts have significant clinical relevance. In this context, the garlic takes on a considerable interest as a natural antibiotic. The properties of garlic are those established: hypotensive, hypolipidemic, antiplatelet, anticancer and antiseptic. The pure allicin molecule is extremely volatile, sparingly soluble in polar solvents like water, and having the typical odor of garlic when crushed.
  • Coriander: A plant that belongs to the family Apiaceae, is often used by pharmaceutical companies for its aromatic properties, useful for correcting the taste of many drugs. Moreover, the essential oil of coriander contains very high percentages of linalool, alcohol monoterpenes present in many essential oils that has bacteriostatic activity. According to recent studies [Lo Cantore et al., 2004] the essential oil of coriander showed a high bactericidal, inhibiting the growth of many bacteria, both Gram-positive and Gram-negative. Coriander exhibits a remarkable bacteriostatic activity against a broad spectrum of micro-organisms, surpassing the results obtained by other traditional antibiotics (clotrimazole, penicillin).
  • Seeds of grapefruit: grapefruit seed extract is effective against 800 types of bacteria and 100 varieties of fungi. It does not damage the intestinal flora, stimulates and strengthens the immune system, has no side effects, except in sensitive individuals who may have a slight intestinal irritation. It helps to combat free radicals, harmful to cell integrity. Free radicals are activated by pollution, smoke, radiation, physical and mental stress. The grapefruit seeds contain many substances that are active against free radicals such as vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and zinc. The essential oil of grapefruit seed extract contains bioflavonoids and glucosides, and the antibacterial effect is the result of their matched action.
  • Onion: belongs to the family of Liliaceae. Onion is available in several species by color, shape, and size of the bulb or the harvest season. It has antibiotic and antibacterial properties that depend on the allyl disulfides which form allicin and cicloalliina. Besides being a natural antibiotic, it contains vitamins, minerals, trace elements, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, niacin, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, iron.
  • Artemisia: the essential oil of wormwood has been shown to have antibacterial and antifungal action, and also even insect repellent action. The essential oil (0.03 – 0.3%) contains terpenes and terpene derivatives, for example, cineol, camphor, linalool, thujone, 4-terpineol, borneol, a-cardinol, and more mono-and sesquiterpenes. The quantitative and qualitative composition varies greatly with soil, climate, fertilization, and harvesting. Also from Artemisia are extracted artemisinin and its derivatives. The artemisinins have qualities that make them particularly effective in reducing fevers and other symptoms related to malaria: they are extremely powerful, fast-acting (the fever is eliminated quickly and people recover quickly), they are very well tolerated and complementary to other classes of drugs.
  • Oregano: Its bacteriostatic properties have been extensively studied [Elgayyar et al., 2001; Mejlhom et al., 2002; Santoyo et al., 2006]. The active ingredient in the extract of oregano, called carvacrol, has a powerful antibacterial action. It was shown [Ulteo et al., 1999] that this highly lipophilic molecule exerts its bactericidal action by making structural changes in biological membranes.
  • Sage: Sage is an excellent antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, it also has antiseptic properties, aromatic, stimulant, antispasmodic and balsamic. Rich in enzymes and vitamins (B1 and C), this plant has a long list of active substances: flavonoids, tannins, saponoside, caffeic acid, rosmarinic acid and glycerine, Salvini, etc. In addition, diterpene compounds purified from several species of Salvia have also shown antitumor activity.

Lycopene Extracted from Tomatoes: Other molecules have required further development of the technology. Of particular interest, because of its widespread use, is lycopene extracted from tomatoes. Lycopene is used in different areas, including cancer care, prevention of breast cancer and prostate cancer, and in cosmetics such as tanning products. The natural molecule shows significant advantages over the synthetic molecule: it is more active due to its particular chemical prevalent form (form-CIS- prevails over form TRANS that presents critical issues in bioavailability).

This extraction has prompted the development of different methods of extraction in the supercritical phase. Among these, one in co-extraction with other plants gave the best qualitative and quantitative results (complete extraction with synergistic activity with other vegetables). The market for this molecule is rapidly growing and further developments are expected with products of natural origin.

Organic Farming Applications

In this area, supercritical extraction is achieving great success.

  • Extracts from Pyrethrum
    • The presence of pyrethrins in pyrethrum oil gives it the pesticides properties. These are highly light-sensitive and highly heat-sensitive active ingredients. Only supercritical phase extraction does not destroy the properties that are present in the plant – due to its complete lack of oxygen during extraction, low temperature and the absence of light during the process.
  • Extracts from Azadiracta Indica (Neem)
    • The pesticides (azadirachtin) contained in the oil of neem only show activity in supercritical extracts (very heat-sensitive compound).