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The conventional method to extract such natural compounds uses organic solvents, in
combination with several purification steps, as depicted in figure 1.1.
As CO2 is more selective, by tuning the pressure and temperature, and is easily removed
by pressure release, its use needs only one recompression step and one purification step,
instead of many separation steps, as shown in Figure 1.2. The energy need for the
recompression step is generally lower than the energy needed in the evaporation step of
the organic solvent in the conventional method. Therefore, the process is consuming less
energy. Additionally, waste plant material can be easily recycled, contrary to plant
material soaked in organic solvent, in the case of classical extraction. Moreover, as no
high temperature separation steps are required, thermally labile compounds may be
extracted with supercritical CO2.
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