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1.0. Introduction Phospholipids in lecithin 2.0.The degumming process of oils and lecithin extraction 3.0. Processing of Commercial Lecithin 4.0. Uses and functions of lecithin in food, pharmaceutical and other industries 5.0. Conclusion 6.0. Appendix 7.0. References 5 8 9 11 2 3 4
1.0.Introduction The story of lecithin began in 1845 with an innovation by the French chemist Theodore Gobley. He isolated an orange-coloured substance from egg-yolk, which had unique emulsifying properties. He called this lecithin. This egg lecithin, however, was far too expensive for industrial applications and was not available in sufficient quantities. Lecithin is the commercial name for a naturally occurring mixture of which varies in color from light tan to dark reddish brown and formed from a fluid to a plastic solid. Lecithin is the gummy material contained in crude vegetable oils and removed by degumming. Soybeans are by far the most important source of commercial lecithin and lecithin is the most important by-product of the soy oil processing industry because of its many applications in foods and industrial products. Soybean lecithin is a complex mixture of phospholipids, glycolipids, triglycerides, sterols and small quantities of fatty acids, carbohydrates and sphingolipids.
The primary phospholipid components of lecithin are: Phosphatidylcholine (PC) Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) Phosphotidylinositol (PI) Phosphatidic acid (PA)
Structure of phosphatidylcholine
2.0. The degumming process of oils and lecithin extraction Lecithin is obtained in the process of degumming crude soy oil. It is usually obtained at the refinery of the company that making commercial lecithin rather than at the oil mill. Crude soy oil contains hydratable compounds, primarily lecithin phosphatides.
Roughly warm water is added to the crude soy oil at about 70*C, in a batch or continuous process.
The emulsion is then agitated or stirred for 10-60 minutes as the phosphatides hydrate and agglomerate, forming a heavy oil-insoluble sludge, which is separated from the oil by use of a centrifuge.
The sludge coming from the degumming centrifuge, a lecithin and water emulsion containing 25-50% water, may then be bleached once or twice, with hydrogen peroxide, to reduce its color from brown or beige to light yellow.
Fluidizing additives such as soy oil, fatty acids, or calcium chloride can then be added to reduce the viscosity to that of honey and prevent the end product, on cooling, from being a highly plastic solid.
Finally the product is film or batch dried to reduce the moisture. The finished commercial product is called "unrefined lecithin" or "natural lecithin;" which contains 65-70% phosphatides and 30-35% crude soy oil.(whether bleach or not)
The oil in unrefined lecithin can be removed by extraction with acetone to give a dry granular product called "refined lecithin."
3.0. Processing of Commercial Lecithin To produce highly puriﬁed phosphatidylcholine there are two industrial processes: batch and continuous. Continuous Process:
1. Lecithin 2. Ethanol 3. Blender 4. Diffuser 5. Thin-type evaporator 6. Ethanol-insoluble fraction 7. Heat exchanger 8. Chromatography column (SiO2) 9. Prestream 10&12. Phosphatidylcholine solution 11. Circulating evaporator 13. Dryer 14. Cooler 15. Phosphatidylcholine
In the continuous process for producing phosphatidylcholine fractions with 70–96% PC at a capacity of 600 t/yr, lecithin is continuously extracted with ethanol at 80◦C. After separation the ethanol-insoluble fraction is separated. The ethanol-soluble fraction runs into a chromatography column and is eluted with ethanol at 100◦C. The phosphatidylcholine solution is concentrated and dried. The pure phosphatidyl-choline is separated as dry sticky material. This material can be granulated.
4.0. Uses and functions of lecithin in food, pharmaceutical and other industries
The worldwide uses of lecithin break down as follows: margarine, 25 –30%; baking/chocolate and ice cream, 25–30%; technical products, 10–20%; cosmetics, 3–5%; and pharmaceuticals, 3%.
Uses of Lecithin
Margarine Baking/Chocolate and ice cream Technical products Cosmetics Pharmaceuticals
4.1. Animal Feed In animal feeds (1–3% lecithin) lecithin is an emulsiﬁer; wetting and dispersing agent; energy source; antioxidant; surfactant; source of choline, organically combined phosphorus and inositol; and lipotropic agent. It is used in a milk replacer formula for calves and for veal production, in mineral feeds, poultry feeds, ﬁsh foods, pet foods, and feeds for fur-bearing animals.
4.2. Baking Products In baking products and mixes (0.1–1% lecithin) lecithin is an emulsiﬁer, stabilizer, conditioning and release agent, and antioxidant. In yeast-raised doughs it improves moisture absorption, ease of handling, fermentation tolerance, shortening value of fat, volume and uniformity, and shelf life. It also promotes fat distribution and shortening action , facilitates mixing, and acts as a release agent. Phospholipid fractions can replace chemical emulsiﬁers and also function as fat reducers.
4.3. Cosmetics and Soaps 1 to 5% percent lecithin moisturizes emulsiﬁes, stabilizes, conditions, and softens when used in products such as skin creams and lotions, shampoos and hair treatment, and liquid and bar soaps. Since the introduction of Capture in 1986, liposomes produced from phospholipids are commercially available worldwide.
4.4. Food Lecithin is a widely used nutritional supplement rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine, phosphatidylinositol, and organically combined phosphorus, with emulsifying and antioxidant properties. In dehydrated foods (0.05–0.3% lecithin) lecithin is a release agent in drying, and it aids in rehydration. In instant foods (0.5–3% lecithin) lecithin is used for its wetting, dispersing, emulsifying, and stabilizing properties in beverage powders and mixes including milk powders, dessert powders, powdered soups, etc.
4.5. Liposomes Lecithin, and more speciﬁcally, puriﬁed phospholipids, are used to produce liposomes for the food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and technical ﬁelds.
4.6. Paints Lecithin (0.5–5% of pigment) is a wetting agent, dispersing agent, suspending agent, emulsiﬁer, and stabilizer in both oil-base and water-base (latex- and resin-emulsion) paints. It facilitates rapid pigment wetting and dispersion, saves time in grinding and mixing, permits increased pigmentation, stabilizes viscosity, aids in brushing, and improves remixing after storage.
4.7. Petroleum Products Lecithin (0.005–2%) is used as an antioxidant, detergent, emulsiﬁer, and anticorrosive agent, and for lubricity and anti wear. It is added to gasoline to stabilize tetraethyl lead and for its inhibition and anticorrosive effects. After reaction with aliphaticamines it is used as a detergent in motor oils for inhibition, detergent, and lubricity effects. Also, it is used in miscellaneous oils including household lubricants and cutting oils, in fuel oils for surfactant and inhibition effects, and in drilling muds as an emulsiﬁer.
4.8. Pharmaceuticals Lecithin is used especially as a dietetic source of phosphatidylcholine required in lipid
metabolism including enzyme systems involved in cholesterol metabolism, for the metabolism of fats in the liver, and as a precursor of brain acetylcholine neurotransmitter. Lecithin with high phosphatidylcholine content are used as excipients and as an active drug. Phosphatidylcholine with a high content of unsaturated fatty acids (polyenephosphatidyl-choline) are on the market in several countries in both oral and parenteral form as a lipid lowering agent (Lipostabil) and liver protector (Essentiale). These phospholipids show membrane protective effects and have gastroprotective capability. Phospholipids in the form of liposomes are interesting tools for drugtargeting and drug delivery.
4.9. Plant Protection Lecithin (0.5–10%) and phospholipid fractions are used in fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides as emulsiﬁers or to increase the effectiveness of the active ingredient. In insecticides (0.5–5%lecithin), lecithin is used for improved emulsiﬁcation, spreading, penetration, and adhesion.
4.10. Plastics Lecithin (0.5–1.5%) is used for pigment dispersion and as a slip or release agent. It also may be sprayed on molds. It has surfactant effects in organosols and plastisols.
4.11. Release Agents Lecithin (2–10%) is used as a surfactant and anti sticking agent in sprays for cookware and in lubricants and release agents for general food application and industrial purposes.
4.12. Elastomer Lecithin is a wetting and dispersing agent and mold-release agent in rubber. It increases plasticity and facilitates working. It emulsiﬁes latex mixes and aids in preparing solvent dispersions and in vulcanizing. In sealing and caulking compounds it is used for wetting, dispersing, and plasticizing effects.
4.13. Textiles Lecithin (0.2–0.5%) is used for emulsifying, wetting, softening, and conditioning especially in sizing and ﬁnishing. It imparts soft, smooth handle and also is used as a spray to reduce duston cotton.
Commercial lecithin is the most important byproduct of the edible oil processing industry because of its functionality and wide application in food systems and industrial utility. In soybean oil production, beyond soy foods, they carry byproducts of the bean itself, such as soybean lecithin. The discovery of specific health benefits continues, by making soy a great prospect on new ingredient labels. Not only does potential marketing advantage, but guarantees that the ingredients are readily available and cost effectively.
Lecithin softgel as supplement
Lecithin in cosmetics
Lecithin used in confectionary and dairy products
Lecithin powder as nutritional food
Lecithin in food production Lecithin granules
Dietary supplement Cosmetics
Lecithin in cosmetics
7.0. References 1. “Lecithin” in ECT 1st ed., Vol. 8, pp. 309–326, by J. Stanley, Joseph Stanley Co.; in ECT 2nd ed., Vol. 12, pp. 343–361, byP. Sartoretto, W. A. Cleary Corp.; in ECT 3rd ed., Vol. 14, pp. 250-269, by J. Eichberg, American Lecithin Co.
2. A Special Report on The History of Soy Oil, Soybean Meal, & Modern Soy Protein Products A Chapter from the Unpublished Manuscript, History of Soybeans and Soyfoods: 1100 B.C. to the 1980s by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi.
3. Smith, Allan K and Circle, Sidney J. Soybeans: Chemistry and Technology, Vol 1, Proteins (Westport CT, Avi, 1972) 79.
4. Shurtleff, William and Aoyagi, Akiko. What Is Lecithin? Chapters 1-6 from History of Soy Lecithin. InSoyfoods: Past, Present and Future. Unpublished manuscript, (Lafayette, CA, Soyfoods Center, 1981).
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