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The plant-based solvent methyloxolane has been approved for use in the extraction of vegetable oils in Europe, leading chemical developer and manufacturer the Minafin Group announced.

The Minafin Group supply methyloxolane under the EcoXtract brand, which is a plant-based solvent used in the extraction of oils, vegetable proteins and natural ingredients.

It is produced from agricultural co-products such as sugarcane bagasse and does not compete with food production, the company said on 20 February.

The European Parliament and the Council amended Directive 2009/32/EC to add the methyloxolane to the list of permitted processing aids for the manufacture of food ingredients.

Methyloxolane is used as a substitute for hexane, which is derived from petroleum and is currently the most used solvent for the extraction of edible oils.

Research of greener, bio-degradable and non-dangerous solvents has become a major concern for academic and industrial research, according to information published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s US website, due to the fact that n-hexane, one of the main constituents of extraction grade hexane, is sourced from fossil resources and registered under the REACH Regulation as a category 2 reprotoxic and as a category 2 aquatic chronic toxic.

“It [methyloxolane] allows the re-use of production facilities initially designed to extract with hexane, with minor modifications. Our goal is now to support the producers of food oils and natural ingredients to progressively abandon the use of hexane in favour of methyloxolane,” EcoXtract managing director Laurence Jacques said.

Headquartered in Belgium, the Minafin Group is active in three main areas: health chemistry, green chemistry, and challenging chemistry. The company operates six industrial manufacturing sites across Europe and North America.