Friday, 14 March 2008

Food additives or Biofortified Food.

One of the uses of Supercritical Fluids is the extraction of actives compounds for the alimentary industry.
The obtaining of natural preservatives, flavours, colorants or aromas are of great interest because the low temperature used in the process avoids the destruction of thermolabile compounds.
But there is another important market in the food industry, the extraction of actives compounds such as carotenes or poly-unsaturated fatty acids. These compounds added to food increase their nutritional value.

However it's not the only way to enrich food, I've found and article about "Biofortified" food. The use genetic manipulation allows producing vegetables with high levels of vitamins or other micronutrients. The main doubt, apart from the general aversion produced by "genetically modified" words, was whether the nutrients are bioavailable.
A recent publication, report that carrots genetically engineered to accumulate twice as much calcium as control carrots are indeed a good source of this essential nutrient, resulting in a 50% increase in calcium absorption [1].

Then we are between nutrition and pharmacology and in the field of novel foods which deals with food safety and a lack of clear legislation.

[1] Morris J. & cols. PNAS 105 (2008) 1431

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Green Chemistry using CO2?

This is one of the questions people use to ask when you explain Supercritical Fluid process and you argue that is a green process, or you talk about sustainable development.
Of course CO2 is regarded as one of the most important environmental problems and its relation with climate change and global warming seams well establish.
However, although most Supercritical Fluids processes employ CO2 as solvent, we don't have to forget that the process DOES NOT PRODUCE CO2 and, moreover, most of the CO2 employed is recirculated.

Related with CO2 problem, today I’ve found a new about one more possible solution.
Craig Venter at TED2008 (Technology, Entertainment and Design) talked about his latest research into "fourth-generation fuels", biologically created fuels with CO2 as their feedstock.
The idea is to create genetically new bacterias that will produce methane form atmospheric CO2.
It seems more plausible than transforming
CO2 in fuel using nuclear energy.
But, having to play with DNA, the idea will have lots of detractors, perhaps more than nuclear energy.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

20 years of JSCF!

I suppose most readers of this blog may know this publication.

"The Journal of Supercritical Fluids" is like a bedside book when you are doing some research in the field.

The Journal of Supercritical Fluids is an international journal devoted to the fundamental and applied aspects of supercritical fluids and processes. Its aim is to provide a focused platform for academic and industrial researchers to report their findings and to have ready access to the advances in this rapidly growing field. Its coverage is multidisciplinary and includes both basic and applied topics.

Its publication begun in 1988 with a single issue in the whole year and six articles. Nowadays they produce twelve issues per year with fifteen articles in each.

That gives an idea of how supercritical fluids technologies are rising and the extend of its application. More over, other scientific publications are full of articles with supercritical fluids, such as "Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry" or "International Journal of Food Science and Technology".

It's not a coincidence that both cited publication are related with "food". It's in fact in the field of nutrition where supercritical fluid technologies are finding one market niche. Production of preservatives, food additives, aromas and other interesting products for alimentary industry by means of a "high tech process" are favored by legislation (against organic solvents) and the appeal of natural products produced with green technologies (Another publication that has to do with supercritical fluids, "Green Chemistry" wich is celebrating its ten years).

Other important applications for supercritical fluids are cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, and the list is expanding as quickly as the technology is getting affordable and better known.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

About climate change.

"Earth under Fire: How Global Warming is Changing the World"

It's a recently published book with a novel view of a warming world.
The author, Gary Braasch, gives a photographic report that shoes how the climate is changing the landscape. Pictures are documentated and supported by weighty scientific evidences.

You can find more information here or here and if you like it it's better to buy it here!