Research and innovation in plant extraction

Technological innovation plays an essential role in our Company: the success of our new cosmetic active ingredients depends on the work of our team.

The extraction processes developed by Phenobio aim to allow for high extraction of the families of the compounds of interest. Our extraction methods are thus the result of the latest scientific advances, such as subcritical water or pulsed electric fields.

Subcritical water: an alternative to organic solvents for the extraction of natural substances

diagrammeIn certain conditions of temperature and pressure, the physical-chemical properties of water are modified and the water moves into the subcritical state. At temperatures of between 100°C and less than the critical point (374°C) and at pressures of less than 221 bar, water remains in the liquid state, but transforms into a solvent with properties which are particularly interesting in the field of plant extraction. In these conditions, the viscosity and surface tension of subcritical water are less than those of water at ambient temperature, its diffusivity increases and its dielectric constant nears that of organic solvents such as ethanol or acetone. The result is better penetration of the solvent in the plant matrix, improved mass transfer and a faster diffusion rate, therefore higher extraction yields with very short contact times.

Subcritical water can therefore replace certain organic solvents which may be toxic and dangerous to handle, and appears as an original, rapid and efficient alternatives for the extraction of natural substances. Several industrial applications may be envisaged, in particular from plant biomass, in the cosmetic, food supplements and also pharmacy sectors

Phenobio is currently the only French supplier of cosmetic active ingredients resulting from the subcritical water extraction process.

In today’s context of sustainable development, subcritical water extraction is a process which fully satisfies certain green chemical principles, notably:

  • no volatile organic compound emissions (VOC),
  • safe implementation of the process: no risk of inflammability or explosivity
  • no toxicity, for operators and in the products