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  • LEWA Solutions for Supercritical Fluids Extraction (SFE)

LEWA Solutions for Supercritical Fluids Extraction (SFE)

Industtries: medical, food


In the life science area, processing is increasingly done with fluids in the supercritical aggregate condition.

The advantage of these processes is in the use of solvents that are environmentally friendly and non-damaging to the product, mainly carbon dioxide.

The requirements of the pharma & biotech markets are met by working at low temperatures and moderate pressures (gentle handling of the product). The requirements for the metering and process diaphragm pumps are very specific in these applications.

LEWA metering pumps and process diaphragm pumps are very well suited for supercritical processes, since they meet all the relevant requirements.


Advantages of LEWA pumps:

  • Hermetically tight
  • Layout of high pressure pumps and their peripheral equipment for liquid gases (refrigeration equipment)
  • Suitable for thin, non-lubricating fluids
  • High operational reliability
  • Low wear, almost no particle contamination due to minimal movement of pump head parts
  • Easy to clean, food design available
  • Hygienic design possible for pharmaceutical applications (Ra < 0.5 μm electro-polished, ASME BPPE, EHEDG)
  • Installation in GMP areas/clean rooms
  • Material conforms to FDA (GRAS: Generally Recognized As Safe)
  • Installation possible in potentially explosive areas
  • Optimum pump head material, for example Hastelloy, available for highly corrosive media
  • Diverse connection geometries
  • Custom valves possible
  • Documentation on qualification/validation
  • Tested for wafer cleaning (Fraunhofer IPA Tested Device®)

It must be noted that carbon dioxide must be in the liquid state to be pumped. This is not practical in the gaseous state due to its compressibility.


LEWA metering pumps and process diaphragm pumps have been successfully used in the following processes:

  • Extraction processes with supercritical CO2 (Supercritical Fluid Extraction SFE), such as decaffeination, degreasing, phytoextraction, as well as the extraction of oil seed, omega fish oil, flavors and spices
  • Supercritical preparative liquid chromatography (Supercritical Fluid Chromatography SFC), as well as separation of optically active substances
  • Supercritical Fluid Reactions SFR
  • Particle formation (e. g., Particles from Gas Saturated Solutions PGSS), such as high-pressure spraying process for pulverizing greases, baked goods, etc.
  • Cleaning processes, e.g., process integrated separation of substances, such as pesticide removal (wool grease, lanolin)
  • Cell breakdown, inactivation (gentle sterilization)

Industrial scCO2-Applications

Principle of the PGSS process

  1. Conditioning and melting two reactants 1 and 2
  2. Feed and compression with LEWA high pressure pumps P1, P2 and P3
  3. Mixing both reactants with supercritical fluid in a static mixer (SM)
  4. Decompression in a spray tower (SP) via a nozzle
  5. Droplet formation
  6. Cooling of droplets and particle formation
  7. Generation of powder in the spray tower with cyclone (ZK)
Principle of the PGSS process

Source: Department of Process Technology, Transport processes, and particle design – technology, University Bochum

Important advantages of supercritical fluids

  • Safe, cost-effective, environmentally friendly, non-toxic
  • They can replace organic solvents
  • Good influence over slight changes in operating conditions
  • Operating conditions under low temperature and pressure make them attractive for research and development in the pharmaceutical & biotechnology sector.

(The most frequently used supercritical fluid is CO2)

【Pressure-Temperature Diagram of CO2

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