Supercritical fluid extraction of Cucurbita ficifolia seed oil


Pumpkin, Cucurbita ficifolia, seed oil was extracted with supercritical carbon dioxide (SC-CO2) in the temperature range of 308–318 K and in the pressure range of 18–20 MPa. In addition, the influence of the superficial velocity within a tubular extractor was studied. The oil content determined by a Soxhlet apparatus was 43.5%. Physical and chemical characteristics of the oil were obtained. The results in terms of free fatty acids contents were compared with those obtained when n-hexane was used as the solvent, and no significant differences between the oils extracted by both methods were found. The main fatty acid was ω6-linoleic acid (about 60%), followed by palmitic acid (about 15%) and oleic acid (about 14%). Oxidative stability was studied by using the induction time determined by the Rancimat method. The oil obtained by supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) was less protected against oxidation (4.2 h for SFE-extracted oil and 8.3 h for the pumpkin seed oil extracted with n-hexane). The oil extracted by SC-CO2 was clearer than that extracted by n-hexane, showing some refining. The acidity index was 5.5 for the n-hexane extracted oil. For the oils extracted by SC-CO2, two analyses were made: for the oils obtained at 15 min of extraction time, for which the acidity indices varied from about 15 to 20, and for the remaining oils (extracted until 150 min), for which the acidity indices varied from about 2 to 2.6. The central composite nonfactorial design was used to optimise the extraction conditions, using the Statistica, version 5, software (Statsoft). The best results, in terms of oil recovered by SC-CO2, were found at 19 MPa, 308 K and a superficial velocity of 6.0×10−4 ms−1.

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Correspondence to M. Gabriela Bernardo-Gil.

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Bernardo-Gil, M.G., Lopes, L.M.C. Supercritical fluid extraction of Cucurbita ficifolia seed oil. Eur Food Res Technol 219, 593–597 (2004).

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  • Cucurbita ficifolia seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Supercritical CO2
  • Lipids