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J Nat Prod. 2006 Nov;69(11):1653-64.

Comparative assessment of technologies for extraction of artemisinin.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom. A.Lapkin@bath.ac.uk


This paper describes results of a multiobjective comparative assessment of several established and emerging technologies for extraction of a natural antimalarial substance, artemisinin. Extractions by hexane, supercritical carbon dioxide, hydrofluorocarbon HFC-134a, ionic liquids, and ethanol were considered. Hexane extraction is an established technology and appears to be the most cost-effective. However, it is characterized by lower rates and efficiency of extraction than all other considered techniques and is also worse in terms of safety and environmental impact. Similarly, EtOH extraction was found to be worse than hexane in all assessment parameters. The new technologies (scCO2, HFC, and ILs) are based on nonflammable solvents and are characterized by faster extraction cycles and more complete extraction of the useful substances and enable continuous extraction processes with reduced solvent inventory. Ionic liquid and HFC-134a technologies show considerable promise and should be able to compete with hexane extraction in terms of cost-effectiveness following due process optimization. New technologies are also considerably safer (no risk of explosions, low toxicity) and greener (having a lower environmental impact in use, potential for biodegradability after use). The methodology of comparative assessment of established and emerging technologies is discussed.

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