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Ultrasonic Extraction Power ultrasound is a proven method for efficient and reliable extraction of active compounds including herbal/ medicinal compounds, oil, proteins and bioactives (e.g. flavones, polyphenolics, anthocyanin, aroma) from botanicals, herbs, flowers and seeds. For ultrasonic extraction, powerful ultrasound waves are coupled into the plant-solvent mixture, so that acoustic cavitation occurs. Acoustic cavitation is described as the ultrasonically caused formation, growth, and implosive collapse of bubbles in liquids. “During cavitation, the collapse of bubbles produces intense local heating and high pressures, with very short lifetimes. In clouds of cavitating bubbles, these hot-spots have equivalent temperatures of roughly 5000 K, pressures of about 1000 atmospheres, and heating and cooling rates above 1010 K/s. In single bubble cavitation, conditions may be even more extreme. Cavitation, then, can create extreme physical and chemical conditions in otherwise cold liquids. If liquids containing solids are irradiated with ultrasound, related phenomena can occur. Near an extended solid surface, cavity collapse becomes non-spherical, which drives high-speed jets of liquid into the solid surface. These jets and associated shock waves can cause substantial surface damage and expose fresh, highly heated surfaces. In addition, high velocity inter-particle collisions will occur during ultrasonic irradiation of liquid-powder suspensions through cavitation and the shockwaves it creates in such slurries. The resultant collisions are capable of inducing dramatic changes in surface morphology, composition, and reactivity.” [Suslick 2001: 2f.] These intense conditions of ultrasonic cavitation have several effects on plant material and their extractability: overcome of membrane selectivity increased mass transfer between cell inside and surrounding solvent cell breakage release of intracellular material This makes sonication a highly effective extraction method. Due to the intense mechanical forces, often green and mild solvents such as water, ethanol etc. can be used. Ultrasonic extraction shortens the extraction time and allows for a reduced and/ or milder solvent use. This means, ultrasonic extraction results in higher extraction rates and produces healthier extracts. This is due to the characteristics of its operation at low temperature both to reduce heat loss caused by temperature factors, but also to avoid the vaporization of substances due to low boiling point and also to maintain biological active substances. Another advantage of ultrasonic extraction lies in it simple and safe use and its precisely controllable application. As a non-thermal extraction method, sonication can be carried out at low temperatures so that the degradation of heat sensitive, heat-labile substances is avoided.
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