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Supercritical Extraction of Lycopene

Lycopene is a carotenoid. It was first isolated from tomatoes, so it was called lycopene. It is a natural pigment. It mainly exists in the ripe fruit of tomatoes. It is one of the strongest antioxidants found in natural plants. It can effectively prevent and cure various diseases caused by aging and immunity decline. Therefore, it has attracted the attention of experts all over the world.

New products of lycopene are emerging in an endless stream. Since 2003, about 500 lycopene-containing products have been introduced in the global market. New lycopene products are also emerging in the markets of various countries (regions). According to product statistics, the United States is still the most dynamic lycopene product market in the world, and its activity has been stable in the past few years. Since 2003, the United States has launched more than 150 new products containing lycopene. Data provided by market research agency Mintel show that the popularity of lycopene in the United States market has steadily increased.

China, as a large country of tomato cultivation, ranks at the forefront of the world. Although the tomato industry in China started late, it developed rapidly. At present, China's tomato production is mainly concentrated in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and other provinces. Xinjiang's output accounts for more than two-thirds of the national output, and Inner Mongolia's output is less than one-third. In 2013, China produced about 1.27 million tons of tomato products, of which domestic consumption was only 255,000 tons. Most of the products depended on exports, and now China has become the world's largest exporter of tomato sauce. The production of tomato products in China has geographical advantages and cost advantages, but the primary processing products are the main ones. The largest output of tomato products in China is tomato sauce, accounting for about 90% of tomato products. There are about 166 tomato sauce processing plants in China, but the market concentration is very high. With the advantages of large-scale production and tomato planting base, Zhongliang Tunhe and Xinzhongji have become the leading industries. At present, the overcapacity of tomato paste processing in China has exceeded 2 million tons, and the overall low profit level of the industry has not been fundamentally changed. Therefore, the tomato industry in China needs to adjust its industrial structure urgently. It needs an efficient way to extract lycopene from deep processing of tomatoes to improve the competitiveness of our tomato products in the international market.

Supercritical Extraction of Lycopene
Supercritical Extraction of Lycopene

At present, the main methods of lycopene production in China are enzymatic method and organic solvent method. Organic solvent method is simple and widely used, but the product quality is poor, such as low purity, odor and solvent residue, which restricts the further promotion of its products. Compared with organic solvents, enzymatic lycopene production can reduce the amount of organic solvents, equipment investment and environmental pollution, but because the enzymes used can not be reused, and the extraction rate is low. Therefore, it greatly increases the cost input.

Supercritical CO2 extraction technology is a new extraction and separation technology in food industry. Supercritical CO2 is used as extractant to extract, separate and purify the active ingredients from liquid or solid materials. Compared with the traditional chemical solvent extraction method, it has the advantages of no chemical solvent consumption and residue, no pollution, avoiding thermal degradation of extracts at high temperature, and maintaining the activity of physiological active substances. Its process is simple, energy consumption is low, the extractant is non-toxic and easy to recover. Therefore, supercritical extraction of lycopene can not only overcome a series of problems caused by traditional methods, but also achieve efficient industrial production.

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