Carbon Dioxide – TwoFold Purpose in Plant Oil Extraction

August 27th, 2018 by

The Use of Co2 x 2

Botanical oils are becoming more and more prominent for their medicinal purposes. Co2 extraction is one of the more popular methods.

With the concerns about environmental damage, Co2 is returning as an alternative or additional refrigerant.

Co2 Extraction Method In Plant Oil Extraction

There are multiple processes for extracting plant oils as found in a blog on New Directions, “How Essential Oils Are Made” (2017, March 20). As reported, there are a variety of popular methods: “steam distillation, solvent extraction, CO2 extraction, Maceration, Enfleurage, Cold Press Extraction, and Water Distillation.” What method is used is based on the “plant types and parts.”

With steam distillation being the most popular, Co2 is very similar except the distillation process uses heat, Co2 does not. In fact, it is believed that Co2 extraction produces oils that are considered to be of higher quality because they have not been altered by intense heat. These oils have retained more of the plant’s chemical composition, and they are reported to be thicker with a stronger aroma of the original plant.

When you visualize the Co2 extraction method that has been supplied in the New Directions‘ blog, you understand the role that Co2 plays.

  1. Liquid Co2 leaves its holding tank.
  2. It is pumped into the extractor, where Co2 mixes with the plant matter.
    1. The Co2 is the solvent that pulls the essentials oils and other matter from the plant.
    2. At this point, if lower temperatures are necessary for oil extraction, this is where a chiller would be necessary.
  3. The solvent mixture passes through a pressure reducing valves that returns the Co2 to its gas form and separates from the oil.
  4. The Co2 gas returns to the holding tank to start the process over again.

You can read that there are companies that are beginning to utilize this process as a marketing element in the “flavoring and nutriceuticals industry.”

Butane and alcohol have been solvents that have been used for plant oil extraction, but flammability of these two liquids make them a safety concern.

How Co2 Can Be Introduced Into the Chiller Process to Help Cool The Condenser

With Co2 already being utilized in the Co2 extraction process and people looking for better alternatives to environmental-safe refrigerants, a video from YouTube, “How Multi ejectors work – working principle CO2 refrigeration” by The Engineering Mindset.com, Evans, P. (2018, July 16) gives a great visual means to see how Co2 can be integrated into a chiller system. As Evans points out, there is a list of reasons that make Co2 a good refrigerant that include “natural, non-toxic, non-flammable, high heat transfer, and GWP of just 1.”

Industries Are Using the Co2 Refrigerant Alternative

Found on RSI, “Carbon Dioxide as a Refrigerant” by Nguyen, O. (2016, July 19) gives a great history of Co2 use for refrigeration that dates back to the mid-1800’s. As noted, Co2 is damaging to our ozone, but the damage as a refrigerant is minimal.

Co2 is returning to tackle the environmental concerns with the help of new technologies. The concerns that once curtailed the use of Co2 has been overcome. Reportedly, better system designs have been a positive outcome of working through the high-pressure challenges.

Call J.C. Younger about Co2 – Extraction and Condenser Cooling

J.C. Younger continuously works to stay up on the latest technologies to make our chiller manufacturing and remanufacturing business the best in the country. If you’re wanting to learn more about how a Co2 extraction chiller can be a more efficient process for your application, we are always happy to review our quality, user-friendly chiller systems with you. We are always accessible, for your questions and customer support.