Subcritical water extraction

The subcritical water extraction process is consists in extracting active ingredients from solid natural materials, using water as a solvent.

Interview de Alexandre Zakrewski

pour Tournaire Equipement

1 – Can you introduce yourself?

I am Alexandre ZAKREWSKI, mechanical designer at Tournaire Equipement. Tournaire Equipement is the reference in the conception of solutions for the treatment of natural materials with high added value.

2 – Can you present us the subcritical water extraction process?

The subcritical water extraction process is an innovative process. It consists in extracting active ingredients from solid natural materials, using water as a solvent. We then free ourselves from the organic solvents that are generally used for this type of extraction. 

Indeed, when water is brought to a high temperature-pressure couple, it acquires an interesting property that brings it closer to the properties of organic solvents such as methanol or acetone.

3 – How is subcritical water extraction carried out?

As in the conventional solid-liquid extraction process, the plant material is brought into contact with a solvent. In this case, it is water in subcritical condition. The active ingredients will dissolve in the water. After filtration of the mixture, we recover the active ingredient in solution in water. 

Afterwards, all that remains is to treat this mixture by evaporation in order to concentrate the active ingredient. 

4 – What is the benefit of performing a subcritical water extraction test?

Conducting a subcritical extraction test allows us to determine the capacities and possibilities of this innovative technology. Indeed, each material reacts differently. This is why it is necessary to carry out a test in order to evaluate the interest of this technology for a particular material or asset.

Example of tests:

Extraction of carnosic acid from rosemary by a clean and organic process. Carnosic acid is an antimicrobial agent used for food preservation.

For this purpose, the WiNatLab test platform puts at your disposal a complete equipment, associated with a complete support from the Tournaire teams in order to accelerate your access to the industrialization of your project.

5 – Who is this type of test intended for? 

This extraction test platform is aimed at companies of all sizes, looking for innovative processes or wishing to develop ecological assets. The WiNatLab platform brings solutions to the sectors of perfumery and flavours, chemistry, cosmetics, nutraceuticals and health pharmaceuticals. 

Tests are carried out on known materials in order to improve process parameters but also on new materials in order to obtain compounds for innovative applications.

6 – What is Tournaire Equipement’s advice ?

With the WiNatLab platform, you can benefit from all the developments that have been made by Tournaire over the years, and, in particular, on the subcritical water extraction process. 

In order to determine as well as possible the desired pressure and temperature conditions, we advise you to carry out a test. This will allow you to validate a perfect dimensioning, by adapting these test parameters to your subcritical extraction unit.

7 – When will the platform be ready and who to contact to book a trial ?

The WiNatLab platform will be inaugurated during September 2020.

I encourage you to register now on the website to participate in the inauguration, and also to book your trial.


All the questions

The WiNatLab laboratory is designed to study the processing of natural raw materials. Under certain conditions, it is possible to process other types of materials (synthetic, biotechnological, etc.). Please consult us for a case-by-case study.

Tournaire Equipement is not dedicated to produce extracts, but to accompany its customers in the choice and supply of process solutions. If you wish to produce an asset developed within the WiNatLab laboratory, we will be happy to put you in touch with our partners who offer custom production.

WiNatLab offers a wide range of processes and technologies, from the most traditional to the most innovative. Depending on the type of materials to be treated and the goal, we can help you to develop a process in line with your requirements. This can be: - The traditional method of steam distillation - Solid-liquid extraction without organic solvents using subcritical water - Solid-liquid extraction by agro-sourced solvents At the same time, Tournaire Equipement offers energy consumption reduction study services.

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