The investment will be used to purchase a refractance window dryer, also known as a GW dryer, manufactured by a California company. The low-temperature technology better preserves the characteristics of delicate bioactive molecules and fits in well with Mazza’s overall technology platform, said CEO Ben Lightburn.
“The Canadian government has been very generous in their support. The federal government has all kinds of schemes to support business growth. This grant in particular was from the Ministry of Agriculture,” Lightburn told NutraIngredients-USA.
“We’ve used all kinds of drying, from spray drying, to belt drying to infrared. The GW dryer strikes the right balance of cost, throughput and product quality,” he said. “It will bring services that we currently outsource in-house. Additionally, we would be able to offer toll drying services to customers.”
Clean label solution
Mazza uses an innovative water extraction technology that offers a clean label solution for botanical extracts that are completely free of solvents. Water extraction is as old as herbalism itself, but has drawbacks in that many compounds of interest are only indifferently soluble, leading to the use of various solvents starting with ethanol. But the company’s new technology, brainchild of founder Dr Giuseppe (Joe) Mazza, makes use of the way the properties of water change in beneficial ways under heat and pressure to vastly increase its extraction capability. The technique uses varying pressure and heat over 100 degrees Centigrade to disassociate the hydrogen bonds in water so that it can act more like an organic solvent. Mazza didn’t discover this property of water but was the first to see its possibilities in botanical extraction.
“At the moment most of our customers are in the dietary supplements industry in the United States,” Lightburn said. “They are excited about being able to feature the technology prominently on the label—it’s the latest, cleanest technology. In addition to the supplements industry we are working with a number of clients in the area of juices and natural flavors and natural colors. And we’ve been making inroads in the cosmetics industry.”
Technique offers flexibility
Lightburn said the extraction technique is also flexible. By subtly altering the pressure and temperature, the solvent action of the water can be fine tuned to pull out more or less of the bioactive molecules sought.
“We are able to extract with water compounds that are normally complete insoluble under ambient conditions,” Lightburn said. “Our system can can be quite selective as we vary the temperature and pressure and hence the polarity of the water. We can go for one class of compounds over another. We typically see a five to 10 times concentration of the biomarker, and sometimes as high as 20 times.”
A bonus property of the process is that once the temperatures drops and the pressure is released, those extracted, insoluble fractions start to precipitate out of the water in the vessel.
“We can use that precipitation as kind of a purification step,” Lightburn said.
Once the dryer is installed Lightburn said the company will be up to full commercial scale (it has already been doing production runs on a lone extract) and will have major product launches to announce in the next couple of months.