New vitamin E recovery technique set to boost industrial production?

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Recovering vitamin E from oil waste

Related tags Petroleum

A new way to ‘recover’ vitamin E from vegetable oil wastes could significantly increase industrial production of vitamin E whilst dramatically reducing waste from vegetable oil processing, say researchers.

The study – published in the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology​ – aimed to isolate oxidized vitamin E in the form of tocopherolquinone (TQ) from waste plant oil products, and use laboratory techniques to reduce the oxidized waste product back to vitamin.

Led by Bayala Isso, from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, USA, the researchers explained that a process that could recover vitamin E from oil processing by-products would “significantly increase industrial production of vitamin E and minimize vegetable oil wastes.”

“Vitamin E is generally produced after deodorization, the last step of vegetable crude oil refining which results in the loss of 25 to 35% of the vitamin due to oxidation,” ​revealed the authors, who noted that to-date, the vegetable oil processing industry has shown no interest in processing oil waste after the initial removal of vitamin E and triglycerides.

Isso said his new study describes a simple high recovery experiment designed to isolate and recover TQ remaining in refined vegetable oil waste.

“At a time when pollution and industrial waste disposal becomes a worldwide concern, this method, if successfully applied to the vegetable oil processing industry, can be a big first step toward reducing vitamin E oxidized products back to vitamin E,” ​they said.

Study details

Isso and his colleagues explained that deodorizer distillate waste is one of the last by-products of refined edible oil – coming after the removal of commercially important value components like fatty acids, sterols, squalene, and vitamin E.

“The distillate waste has a very limited commercial value, therefore requires additional costs for a safe environmental disposal.”

However, they noted that during removal of vitamin E, the refinery process itself causes a significant loss due to distillation and thermal oxidation. One of the main vitamin E oxidation products – tocopherolquinone (TQ) – is found in large quantities in oil waste water.

In the study, a new cost-effective liquid–liquid extraction method was developed to isolate alpha-TQ from vegetable oil steam distillate or distillate waste.

“High recovery results ranging from 31 to 120% were obtained depending on the ratio between the sample and three different organic extraction solvents (acetonitrile, methanol, and hexane) combined,”​ said the authors.

Isso and his team suggested that the techniques presented could be ‘easily’ be implemented in vegetable oil processing plants “as a revolutionary way to significantly increase the production of natural vitamin E and reduce the amount of oil waste.”

Source: European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/ejlt.201100380
“Extraction of α-tocopherolquinone from vegetable oil deodorizer distillate waste”
Authors: B. Isso, D. Ryan

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