Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is as old as the universe itself, but humans have discovered many novel and new uses for this compound in just the last few centuries. For instance, CO2 is commonly used in Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE); a process of separating one component from another using a substance caught in between the liquid and gas phase.
This substance is actually a Supercritical fluid, and it's used in all sorts of commercial and industrial processes today to “target” another compound for extraction without damaging the host material.
Chances are you've brushed up against this application and don't even know it: dry cleaning is a perfect example as CO2 is used in conjunction with other processes to extract dirt without harming the clothing.
CO2 extraction of botanical material works much the same way in that the CO2 extracts the nutrients locked away inside them. These extracted nutrients are purified and concentrated; and can then be mixed into the foundation of the next breakthrough nutraceutical or dietary supplement.
A supercritical CO2 process is also straightforward as the only compound in play is natural CO2. There are no solvents or residual components remaining once the target nutrient is extracted. Why? Because a supercritical fluid can fill a container like a gas while still maintaining its density like a liquid. This supercritical property of CO2 is great for extraction because it is “softer” on the plant than other compounds and won’t cause damage or "denaturing" (making unfit for consumption). This also results in a clean extraction with a natural compound and no chemicals.
Since solubility in CO2 varies with pressure, supercritical CO2 can be used to extract selected compounds rather than a combination of all compounds with just a few small adjustments. As a result CO2 extraction is the cleanest, safest method for extracting nutrients from plants. It should be no surprise why you see it being used in the burgeoning craft beer and cannabis industries as well.
Here are three reasons why supercritical is super-critical to the creation of plant-based nutraceuticals:
- Purity - no residual solvents
- Efficiency - value-added product manufactured with minimal extraction times, higher yields, low maintenance/energy consumption for cost-efficiency through mechanical innovation.
- Sustainabability - Supercritical extraction with CO2 is a non-toxic alternative in extraction technology with safer and healthier products for human consumption
For example, the menaquinone-7 version of Vesta Nutra's Vitamin K2 ingredient is derived from fermented soybeans using a supercritical CO2 process that makes it all-natural as it was created without the use of other common extraction solvents such as propane and butane, hexane and pentane, or ethanol/alcohol mixtures.
The supercritical CO2 extraction method delivers a clean, unaltered, and consistent product. The supercritical process itself also sterilizes the extracted ingredients, which prolongs shelf life and yields medical-grade nutraceuticals. The relatively low temperature of the process and the stability of CO2 also allows most compounds to be extracted without damaging the natural compounds - also known as “denaturing.”
Special thanks to Thom Deahl, Vesta Nutra's technical writer, for providing his expertise on this subject. To find out more about Vesta Nutra's contract manufacturing capabilities or its Vitamin K2 ingredient Natto MK7, contact the marketing department via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or (888) 55-VESTA today.