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Publication Title | SUPERCRITICAL CARBON DIOXIDE EXTRACTION OF PIGMENTS FROM Bixa orellana SEEDS (EXPERIMENTS AND MODELING)

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Brazilian Journal of Chemical Engineering

INTRODUCTION

Annatto (Bixa orellana) is a tropical tree whose seeds produce pigments with hues from yellow to red. Among other applications, these colours are used in the food industry to improve cheese, margarine and butter. One of the main pigments in the pericarp of the seeds is the carotenoid bixin (C25H30O4), which is one of the main natural colours (Scotter et al., 1994) and is found only in this plant. Chemically it is the mono-methyl ester of the

dicarboxylic acid norbixin, another important pigment found in annatto seeds.

While this compound is soluble in oils upon heating and weakly soluble in supercritical CO2 (Nobre et al., 2002), norbixin is soluble in water and insoluble in supercritical CO2 (Degnan et al., 1991). Commercial extracts of oil-soluble annatto pigments are obtained from the seeds by several processes, such as suspension in oil, mechanical processes and solvent extraction with chloroform, dichloroethane and acetone (Preston and Rickard, 1980).

ISSN 0104-6632 Printed in Brazil www.abeq.org.br/bjche

Vol. 23, No. 02, pp. 251 - 258, April - June, 2006

SUPERCRITICAL CARBON DIOXIDE EXTRACTION OF PIGMENTS FROM Bixa orellana SEEDS (EXPERIMENTS AND MODELING)

B. P. Nobre1, R. L. Mendes1*, E. M. Queiroz2, F. L. P. Pessoa2, J. P.Coelho3 and A. F. Palavra4

1INETI, Departamento Energias Renováveis, Estrada do Paço do Lumiar,

Phone +351 21-712-7192; fax +351 21-712-7195; 1639-038, Lisboa, Portugal. E-mail: rui.mendes@ineti.pt

2UFRJ, Departamento de Engenharia Química, Escola de Química, Rio de Janeiro - RJ, Brazil. 3ISEL, Departamento de Engenharia Química, Lisboa, Portugal.

4IST, Departamento de Engenharia Química, Lisboa, Portugal.

(Received: October 20, 2004 ; Accepted: March 5, 2006)

Abstract - Supercritical CO2 extraction of the pigments from Bixa orellana seeds was carried out in a flow apparatus at a pressure of 200 bar and a temperature of 40 oC at two fluid flow rates (0.67g/min and 1.12g/min). The efficiency of the extraction was low (only about 1% of the pigment was extracted). The increase in flow rate led to a decrease in pigment recovery. A large increase in recovery (from 1% to 45%) was achieved using supercritical carbon dioxide with 5 mol % ethanol as extraction fluid at pressures of 200 and 300 bar and temperatures of 40 and 60 oC. Although the increase in temperature and pressure led to an increase in recovery, the changes in flow rate did not seem to affect it. Furthermore, two plug flow models were applied to describe the supercritical extraction of the pigments from annatto seeds. Mass transfer coefficients were determined and compared well with those obtained by other researchers with similar models for the supercritical extraction of solutes from plant materials.

Keywords: Supercritical carbon dioxide; Bixa orellana seeds.

*To whom correspondence should be addressed

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