Supercritical Extraction

SCF Extraction UnitIn supercritical fluid technology, extraction has been the most studied and applied application. This may be the reason why people may have the misled notion of supercritical extraction being a simple matter. Earlier applications were in the field of food & pharmaceuticals processing such as decaffeination of coffee beans, extraction of vitamins and medicinal ingredients. Even though the process efficiency and desirability was excellent, the cost of operation was also high, thus making the applicability of the process somewhat limited to the field of relatively expensive material processing.

Dr. Lee's group was one of the pioneers that made the conventional high-pressure supercritical fluid technology an emerging process technology that has diverse commercial significance. In the field of supercritical fluid extraction, Dr. Lee's group applied the process engineering principles that are based on thermodynamic and transport properties of supercritical fluids, to a wide variety of industrial processes. They include:

  • low-temperature extraction of biologically and medicinally active ingredients from specific plant matters under nontoxic environment
  • cleaning of mechanical parts
  • ultrapurification of residual from synthetic materials
  • solvents from various chemical/ceramic/polymeric materials.
  • drying without using difference in vapor pressures
  • devulcanization
  • degreasing/cleansing chemical parts
  • defouling of catalysts
  • desulfurization of coal
  • removal of organic nitrogen from coal
  • extraction of valuable chemicals from coal
SCF Extraction Reactors

Since most of the process applications are proprietary in nature, details of each process cannot be disclosed here. However, striking and major findings in these processes share one or more of the following merits:

  • synergistic use of cosolvents
  • optimized outcome
  • processability
  • capitalizing on dipole and quadrapole moments
  • benefits of high-pressure process engineering
  • environmental benefits of no VOC & cleanness.
Choice of ideal solvents for SCFE is based on the following figure :

  1. any scf
  2. when there is chemical synergism between the fluid and the chemical to be removed.
  3. when there is physical and chemical synergism among the fluid, chemical, and substrate.

Needless to say, the best choice of the supercritical fluid is from case (c). It is even more so, if the chosen fluid is inexpensive, nontoxic, and fully reusable.

We have developed a supercritical fluid extraction process that is based on binary and ternary solvent systems. Furthermore, the technology of exploiting the synergistic benefits of cosolvents is also developed.

"Selective Extraction Process of Sulfur from U.S. Coals using Supercritical Fluids", U.S. Patent No. 5,080,692.

We have nearly perfected this process research and acquired a great deal of experience handling both small & medium-sized scales. We have five self-peripheraled supercritical fluid extraction systems in our laboratory.

If you would like to discuss about potential University research contracts and need further information, please contact us.