Substance Extraction: 3 Advantages of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide
At least as far back as ancient China, people have been interested in the bioactive ingredients in plants and how best to extract them to reap their benefits. While scientific research has led to the development of several isolation and extraction techniques, most of the traditional methods suffer from weaknesses that limit the amount of pure substance that can be obtained from the plant. An emerging technique, which employs what is referred to as supercritical carbon dioxide, is gaining traction in several industries, as it is proving favorable in a number of ways in its ability to isolate vitamins as well as other substances thought to provide medicinal benefits that may be used in the development of neutraceuticals and other products.
What is supercritical carbon dioxide?
Super critical carbon dioxide extraction is a technique to separate substances from within a plant. This approach combines other techniques to simplify and optimize the process of extraction. The data on its effectiveness and safety over other extraction methods are leading to its use in extracting a wide range of molecules from plants. Extracting substances from cannabis plants and hemp seed, for instance, has become more popular as the markets for the relevant ingredients have grown with recent regulatory changes. However, a major challenge in meeting this new demand is accessing safe and reliable extraction techniques.
How does supercritical carbon dioxide work?
This method involves placing plant material into an extraction vessel and pumping in carbon dioxide that has been exposed to high temperatures and pressures. The carbon dioxide then acts to dissolve portions of the plant. When the pressure is subsequently released by the opening of a valve, this dissolved material flows into another vessel, where heat and pressure are further modified to enhance the bonding of the material to the carbon dioxide. This bonding facilitates the separation of key ingredients from the plant. The extracted material is then collected in a separate collection vessel.
What makes supercritical carbon dioxide processing superior to other extraction methods?
- It produces pure products. Supercritical carbon dioxide processing is known for producing pure, high quality products. While other extraction methods cannot always separate the compound of interest from organic solvents, with supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, no residual solvent is left on the product.
This feature of supercritical carbon dioxide processing is advantageous because it enables the isolation of a pure product. Given that organic solvents are often toxic., ensuring that the final product is free of organic solvents is particularly important in industries where the isolated product is one that will be ingested.
- It recovers product efficiently. Some substances cannot be adequately recovered using conventional methods of extraction. Because super critical carbon dioxide extraction can be achieved without the use of extreme temperatures, little degradation occurs compared to what is seen with other methods of extraction.
In addition to minimizing degradation, supercritical carbon dioxide enables higher product yields by simply capturing more of the product. By working in a super critical state, however, this approach leverages thee technical benefits of both gases and liquids. Specifically, the supercritical carbon dioxide can travel into small spaces that only gases can travel while also dissolving and behaving like a solvent in a way that only liquids normally do. No degradation.
- It can be customized to the target ingredient. Strategies to manipulate the physical properties of supercritical carbon dioxide enables scientists to encourage binding between carbon dioxide and the specific molecule of interest. Research into how to optimize extraction of specific compounds is also boosting scientists’ understanding of how best to obtain pure, uncontaminated substances in favorable volumes.
Takeaway: There are a variety of substances within plants that have the potential to improve our lives and our health. As research into these substances has grown, so too has our understanding of which substances are most beneficial and what their specific benefits are.
This critical information has increased our desire to isolate and extract specific molecules from others that are co-mingled within individual plants. As such, developing more sophisticated methods for extraction has been a major goal of plant-based industries. The use of supercritical carbon dioxide is growing due to promising data on its ability to more effectively, efficiently, and safely isolate these sought-after substances.
Supercritical CO2 processing is especially useful for THC remediation from hemp or cannabis. High Purity Extractions currently offers numerous supercritical CO2 extraction services, including;
- CO2 THC remediation – We can separate THC from CBD in a complete solventless system. We can accept any input material and bring it to 85-95% CBD that is below .1% THC concentration.
- CO2 CBN remediation – Similar to our CO2 THC remediation technology, we can remove CBN from any CBD matrix.
- CO2 THC+CBN remediation – We also can remove both THC and CBN in the same process
- CO2 Pesticide Remediation – We can remove pesticides from any botanical extract, including non-hemp!
- CO2 THC to CBN Conversion – We can convert any cannabinoid matrix that contains THC into CBN. In a CO2 system without any co-solvents.
- CO2 CBDA Isolation – We can also separate CBDA from any incoming Hemp biomass! This could be a great addition to your vape cartridge formula to limit crystallization.
- CO2 Tolling – We can toll a variety of compounds in CO2 to create various extracts.
Please contact us if you want to know more about the supercritical CO2 services that High Purity offers, or to get in our cue.