Extraction with supercritical fluids in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food sectors

In the life science area, processing is increasingly done with fluids in the supercritical aggregate condition.

The advantage of these processes is in the use of solvents that are environmentally friendly and non-damaging to the product, mainly carbon dioxide. The requirements of the pharma & biotech markets are met by working at low temperatures and moderate pressures (gentle handling of the product).

The requirements for the metering and process diaphragm pumps are very specific in these applications.

Solutions for extraction with supercritical fluids

LEWA metering pumps and process diaphragm pumps are very well suited for supercritical processes, since they meet all the relevant requirements.

Advantages of LEWA pumps:

  • Hermetically tight
  • Layout of high pressure pumps and their peripheral equipment for liquid gases (refrigeration equipment)
  • Suitable for thin, non-lubricating fluids
  • High operational reliability
  • Low wear, almost no particle contamination due to minimal movement of pump head parts
  • Easy to clean, food design available
  • Hygienic design possible for pharmaceutical applications (Ra < 0.5 μm electro-polished, ASME BPPE, EHEDG)
  • Installation in GMP areas/clean rooms
  • Material conforms to FDA (GRAS: Generally Recognized As Safe)
  • Installation possible in potentially explosive areas
  • Optimum pump head material, for example Hastelloy, available for highly corrosive media
  • Diverse connection geometries
  • Custom valves possible
  • Documentation on qualification/validation
  • Tested for wafer cleaning (Fraunhofer IPA Tested Device®)

It must be noted that carbon dioxide must be in the liquid state to be pumped. This is not practical in the gaseous state due to its compressibility.

Areas of application: Extraction and other supercritical processes with LEWA pumps

LEWA metering pumps and process diaphragm pumps have been successfully used in the following processes:

  • Extraction processes with supercritical CO2 (Supercritical Fluid Extraction SFE), such as decaffeination, degreasing, phytoextraction, as well as the extraction of oil seed, omega fish oil, flavors and spices
  • Supercritical preparative liquid chromatography (Supercritical Fluid Chromatography SFC), as well as separation of optically active substances
  • Supercritical Fluid Reactions SFR
  • Particle formation (e. g., Particles from Gas Saturated Solutions PGSS), such as high-pressure spraying process for pulverizing greases, baked goods, etc.
  • Cleaning processes, e.g., process integrated separation of substances, such as pesticide removal (wool grease, lanolin)
  • Cell breakdown, inactivation (gentle sterilization)
Pumps and systems for supercritical applications

Industrial scCO2-Applications

Principle of the PGSS process:

  1. Conditioning and melting two reactants 1 and 2
  2. Feed and compression with LEWA high pressure pumps P1, P2 and P3
  3. Mixing both reactants with supercritical fluid in a static mixer (SM)
  4. Decompression in a spray tower (SP) via a nozzle
  5. Droplet formation
  6. Cooling of droplets and particle formation
  7. Generation of powder in the spray tower with cyclone (ZK)
Pumps and systems for supercritical applications

Illustration: Principle of the PGSS process

Source: Department of Process Technology, Transport processes, and particle design - technology, University Bochum

Background for supercritical fluids

A supercritical fluid is a substance whose temperature and pressure are both over their critical point simultaneously (see diagram for CO2).

The critical temperature is the temperature over which the substance can no longer remain liquid, regardless of the pressure level.

Critical pressure is the pressure over which the substance can no longer form gas, regardless of the temperature.

Supercritical fluids have the density and good dissolving properties of fluids, as well as the viscosity, good compressibility, and diffusability of gases.

Due to their good mixing and mass transfer properties, they are classed as a fluid.

Important advantages of supercritical fluids:

  • Safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, non-toxic
  • They can replace organic solvents
  • Good influence over slight changes in operating conditions
  • Operating conditions under low temperature and pressure make them attractive for research and development in the pharmaceutical & biotechnology sector.

Selection criteria for the right supercritical fluid:

  • Physical-chemical properties of the desired mixture
  • Task of the solvent in the process in regards to solubility
  • Specific application
  • Safety, especially in regards to flammability, phase behavior under operating conditions
  • Cost of the fluid
  • Cost of the equipment

The most frequently used supercritical fluid is CO2.

Properties of carbon dioxide:

  • Low critical temperature (31.1°C)
  • Moderate critical pressure (73 bar)
  • Non-flammable
  • Non-toxic
  • Mixable with organic solvents
  • Recoverable after processing
  • Diffuses faster than conventional fluid solvents
  • GRAS status
  • Approved by the FDA for use in food and pharmaceuticals
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Cost-effective

Industries

Pumps and Systems for the Production of Personal Care Products

Processes with strict quality and hygiene requirements, such as GMP or the need to avoid preservatives, require the right equipment. We support you in the selection and the design of hygienic components and systems for producing personal care products. Contact our experts and let us advise you – we will work with you to develop customized metering solutions for your process, such as for manufacturing personal care products.

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Pumps and Systems for the Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences and Biotechnology Industries

As the leading manufacturer of pumps and pump systems for the pharmaceutical, life sciences, and biotechnology industries, LEWA supports you during the development of complete solutions, which meet your process requirements exactly. Special expertise is required in the production of pharmaceuticals in order to ensure that legal requirements are met. Reliability when it comes to production, documentation, and validation are our top priorities.

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Pumps and Systems for the Food and Beverage Industry

LEWA supports producers and plant construction companies in the food and beverage industries with pumps and systems for homogenization and dispersion, as well as for other processing operations in the food industry. We work with you to plan all the important process-related operations, such as conveying, metering, mixing, heating, and cooling so that you can process your raw product cost-effectively.

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Products

LEWA ecoflow® diaphragm metering pump

LEWA ecoflow is the innovative and universal metering pump with DPS diaphragm protection system in a tried-and-tested modular system. Suitable for numerous applications, the ecoflow is our real all-around talent, relied on by customers from all industries.

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LEWA ecoflow is also available in sanitary/hygienic. The metering pump for hygienic applications has the same all-around capabilities and fulfills all specifications for pharmaceutical and food production.

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LEWA ecodos is an absolutely reliable, economical and highly adaptable metering pump, especially where diaphragm actuation is not wanted. Here, we also rely on our tried-and-tested modular system in designing the perfect pump for you.

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Metering pumps for very small flow rates. The FC micro-metering pumps for pressures up to 400 bar were developed specifically for laboratories and test centers.

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The innovative ecoflow diaphragm process pump shows its strengths in high-pressure applications in the oil and gas, refinery and petrochemical industries as well as in the sensitive areas of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, food and beverage production.

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The LEWA triplex process diaphragm pump is among the world's most compact high-pressure pumps and can even be set up in the tightest spaces when space is at a premium. The power package has proven its strength in numerous high-pressure processes in a variety of industries. Oil and Gas icon Gas odor icon gray Refinery icon Petrochemicals icon Chemicals icon Plastics icon gray Cleaning icon Cosmetics icon Pharma icon Food icon Energy icon Other icon

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Customer-specific batch/continuous systems for your production process. Metering, mixing, filling, separating, controlling temperature: We work with you to develop the ideal process-related sequence and produce the system that fits your production process – right up to the end product.

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Customer-Specific Metering Systems from LEWA

Turnkey metering system in closed loop control with monitoring and plausibility testing equipment. Your individually configured metering system with an optimally designed pump for fluid metering in automated processes.

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