Application of Large Supercritical Extraction Equipment in Natural Product Development

Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) is one of the most advanced separation and extraction technologies in the world. In recent decades, it has attracted great interest of researchers all over the world. Through the efforts of researchers, it has made considerable progress. In the fields of medicine, chemical industry, food, petroleum, environmental protection and cosmetics, a number of valuable topics have been completed, and a new industry has been formed worldwide. Developing and utilizing supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) technology to realize large-scale industrial production is a major breakthrough in transforming dozens or hundreds of scientific research achievements that have been developed in the laboratory into productivity and economic benefits.

Supercritical fluids have special solubility, which was discovered by Americans at the end of the 19th century. It was not until the 1970s that Germany was applied to beer processing to extract beer and other industrial applications. In the 1980s, China and Japan started at the same time, and now Japan’s industrial application has led the world level. Since China started in the 1980s, many scientific research institutes have made great efforts to explore and practice, and have achieved a lot. For example: capsicum red pigment, Angelica oil, garlic oil, shikonin red pigment, pepper oil, lecithin and so on, not less than several hundred kinds, but mostly in the laboratory results. At present, there are several domestic supercritical equipment manufacturers (from 1 to 200 liters), which can only meet the laboratory and some more expensive products extraction, but from the current domestic research results and needs, far from meeting the needs of large-scale industrial production.

Why China should industrialize in the field of supercritical fluid extraction

China is a country rich in natural resources of animals and plants. Many natural resources, such as natural pigments, fragrances and cosmetics, are among the most valuable resources for human survival and prosperity. Because of the backward deep processing technology in our country, especially in some economically underdeveloped areas, many valuable natural resources are wasted in vain or exported cheaply as raw materials. After deep processing by foreign countries, they are sold back to China at a high price, such as beer industry, tea industry, pigments and flavors, etc. Large-scale supercritical extraction equipment is urgently needed for the comprehensive utilization of various wastes such as peel and stone, the Westernization of herbal medicine and the integration of international herbal medicine market. It will turn the cheap natural resources in poor areas into high value-added green products.

Obstacles to industrialization

At present, because the processing technology of domestic large-scale extraction kettle is difficult, the volume of the supercritical extraction equipment is small, and the extraction of some light-weight substances has the disadvantages of high cost, high cost and low processing capacity. From the research results, domestic equipment can not meet the industrial production needs of many industries, while domestic needs large-scale industrial extraction equipment. Enterprises should have more than one hundred. The introduction of such large-scale equipment is very expensive. This hinders the wide application of supercritical extraction technology in China. At the same time, the standardization of equipment and the safety of supporting equipment are urgent issues to be solved. After three years of hard work, we have successfully developed a large supercritical extraction equipment from 100L to 5000L, which can meet the technical requirements of extraction at pressure, temperature and flow rate. The cost of this equipment is only 30% of that of imported equipment. It has reasonable structure, superior performance and meets the hygienic conditions of the food industry. At the same time, it is superior to similar equipment at home and abroad in temperature sensing, anti-fatigue dynamic strength, sealing performance, safety factor and other technical indicators. After more than two years of testing, the equipment runs well. The products are: Angelica oil, Radix Angelicae oil, shikonin red pigment, frog seed oil of Changbai Mountain, sea rainbow oil, ginseng oil, Schisandra oil, safflower oil, hop oil, garlic oil, ginger oil, aloin, pyrethrum and other dozens of varieties, but also can remove 80% of pesticide residues from ginseng powder.

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