With an increased focus on improving the safety and quality of food, Supercritical Fluids have replaced many organic solvents in the foods industry. Replacing organic solvents with Supercritical Fluids allows for a decrease in both contamination and cost. The result is a clean process using Supercritical Carbon Dioxide as an alternative solvent.
For example, the gas- and liquid-like qualities of supercritical CO2 are perfect for the removal of caffeine from coffee. The decaffeination process is a simple extraction. Supercritical carbon dioxide is forced through green coffee beans, and its gas-like behavior allows it to penetrate deep into the beans, dissolves virtually all of the caffeine present in the coffee, 97-99%.
A process once performed using solvents such as methylene chloride, the main ingredient in paint remover, has been replaced by a clean and green solvent, supercritical carbon dioxide. Coffee is now decaffeinated on a large scale by using Supercritical Fluid Extraction Systems.
Other food applications using Supercritical Fluids include hops, spices, aromas, and more. The use of Carbon dioxide is ideal for these applications as it does not introduce any residual organic chemicals, resulting in extracts that are safe to consume. In the extraction of hop oil for production of beer, CO2 extraction extends the life of hop flavors. Hop pellets easily degrade, but the integrity of a hop oil extract remains consistent.