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Solvent extraction


Key words separation, extraction, solvent, solubility, selectivity, liquid-solid
Latest version 2010/12/20
Completed by Wageningen UR - FBR

How does it work?

Primary objective Removal of desired or undesired compounds from a raw material.
Working principle Compounds dissolve from a solid or liquid into a solvent. The technology is based on differences in solubility. Both compound and matrix can be the target fraction. During recycling of the solvent the compound is removed from the solvent by changing the process condition resulting in lower solubility.
Additional effects If the solvent is not gaseous at ambient conditions (e.g. water) the solid might need to be dried.

Solvent-component interaction. Possibility for change of properties of component

Important process parameters temperature, pressure
Important product parameters solubility, viscosity, porosity, permeability

What can it be used for?

Products (Unshaped) bulk products
Operations Refining, decolourisation, deodorisation,
Solutions for short comings Desire for pure flavours, colorants or other minor components of raw materials.

What can it NOT be used for?

Products Packaged products.

Components that are not soluble in food approved solvents.

Other limitations Compounds with higher solubility are also extracted. They have to be removed afterwards.
Risks or hazards Risks:
  • Exposure to toxic solvents (health).
  • Exposure to toxic extracts (health).
  • Occurrence of an explosion if the solvent needs to be pressurised (safety).
  • Usage of toxic solvents (environment).


Maturity Solvent extraction is available from lab to industrial scale. Liquid-solid extraction only batch wise. Liquid-liquid extraction also continuous.
Modularity /Implementation This technology requires a lot of space (especially the peripherals), therefore it is not easily inserted in an existing production line.

Application of a batch process into a continuous production line requires the (undesired) use of buffer tanks.

Consumer aspects No information available.

Use of solvents might be a point of concern.

Legal aspects For some solvents residue limits are defined.
Environmental aspects Some currently used solvents have a negative environmental impact.

Energy use for CO2 recycling.

Further Information

Institutes Wageningen UR - FBR, VITO
Companies DeSmet Ballestra, Feyecon, Nateco2, Natex, Separex
References 1. Council Directive 88/344/EEC of 13 June 1988 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States on extraction solvents used in the production of foodstuffs and food ingredients.

2. Sowbhagya, HB; Chitra, VN, Enzyme-Assisted Extraction of Flavorings and Colorants from Plant Materials, Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 2010 50(2), p 146-161.

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Created by Hamoen on 17 January 2012, at 12:27