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A new green extraction and separation technology will soon be available to industry. This patented technology, developed by Mazza Innovation Ltd. of Penticton, BC enables manufacturers to extract high-value phytochemcials from plants with a greener and cleaner environmentally friendly process.

“Our new technology provides manufacturers with a cost effective and environmentally sustainable extraction process for high-value phytochemicals from plants for use in foods, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other products,” explains Dr. Joe Mazza, CEO. “This new technology can extract multiple classes of phytochemicals, such as lignans, polyphenols and saponins, during a single extraction operation using low polarity water. Our goal was to develop an innovative manufacturing system that is less energy intensive and discharges no toxic materials.”

Traditional methods of extraction from plants use organic solvents such as ethanol or acetone, which can pose hazards to health and the environment. These solvents are expensive and require extensive measures to reduce hazards to health, safety and the environment. Some solvents, such as ethanol, require explosion proof facilities for production. There are also significant costs related to disposal of organic solvents and any waste material from the process.

“The extraction process uses water and specific temperature, pressure and flow rate conditions to optimize the extraction of compounds of interest,” explains Mazza. “We can tailor the technology to extract a variety of compounds from any biomass raw material. Some examples include reversitol extracted from grape skins, lignans from flax or quercetin from buckwheat.” The final extract is in the water phase, which can then be used directly in beverages or other products, or can be converted to a solid extract if required.

“This extraction system would be equivalent to an ethanol facility for example that would require a $1 to $1.5 million investment,” says Mazza. “We expect to have cost advantages with our technology because it uses water, so there are no costly organic solvents to handle and dispose of. As well, the spent material coming out of our process can potentially be reused for other opportunities, or can go directly into compost, unlike materials from organic solvent extraction processes. Reduced energy requirements are also a big advantage.”

In February, 2012 Mazza Innovations received a Regional Award in the 2nd Annual BCIC-New Ventures Competition in Penticton for this technology. “We appreciated receiving the award and the opportunity to meet all kinds of business people including investors and to talk about our technology,” says Mazza. “It is a very good program and the mentorship and learning was valuable.”

Demonstration and Production Scale-Up

Over thne ext few months, Mazza hopes to have a facility ready for demonstration and production. “We have hired engineers to build the key parts of the system and will purchase the others,” he says. “Once we have the system assembled, we will be proving and testing the system, ensuring the necessary automation is in place and finalizing the economics and scaleup.”

The commercial extraction unit is capable of running 100 kg of biomass, with two 50 kg units side-by-side. This allows for a continuous process, with one unit running while the other is being loaded with material. Mazza had developed a smaller 45 kg unit while he was still at AAFC, so he knows the system works, it is just a matter of scaling it up.

Mazza hopes to be in production by the fall of 2012. The company will be producing and selling extracts, but also providing custom processing for other companies. “We will be selling sublicenses and extraction/fractionation equipment, he adds. “We have the expertise on how to extract or fractionate novel, high value compounds from plants and with the demonstration facility can show companies how the process works and assist them with purchase and installation of their own systems.”

The Penticton facility will also include a quality control lab and a mini extraction system. “If someone has a product we don’t know much about, we can test it on a small scale using 50 to 100 grams of raw material to determine now it behaves under extraction,” explains Mazza. “If it works, we can help companies get set up to produce the product, customize the process if necessary, or produce it for them. The facility we are establishing will allow for production and expansion as needed.”

This fall, Mazza plans to hold the first open house and demonstration day to showcase the technology and opportunities. “We are very excited about this process and to be able to offer a new, greener extraction technology to industry,” says Mazza. “The system will be suited to many kinds of operations including those wanting to produce natural and organic products. We look forward to working with companies around the world to establish extraction facilities.”