Technological Platform

Sustainable technologies for the development of natural functional ingredients

Technological Platform

iBET’s Technological Platform focuses on the development of functional ingredients recovered from diverse natural sources.

We have experience working with a variety of natural matrices including fruits (apples, cactus pear, blueberries, elderberry), vegetables (waterceress, broccoli, chicory), other plants (aromatic herbs, halophyte plants, saffron, cannabis), agri-food industry by-products (olive oils making residues, fruit pomace, winemaking residues, rice bran) and marine waste streams (algae, fish skins and eyes).

Our goal is to design effective and sustainable extraction, purification, and formulation technologies to recover and microencapsulate functional compounds from natural matrices. More specifically, health-promoting bioactives, pigments and alternative natural pesticides and preservatives.

iBET is committed to eco-responsible practices, by developing and improving integrated environmentally friendly extraction, purification, and formulation processes.

Green Solvents and Technologies for a Sustainable Future

High Pressure Extraction

Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) solvents (e.g. CO2, ethanol, and water) in the sub- and supercritical state to get natural extracts.

Alternative Solvents

Innovative solvents (like deep eutectic systems) as extractant solvents and co-formulants.

Process Intensification Technologies

Our approach emphasizes efficiency, employing physical pre-treatments (e.g. high pressure, freeze drying and milling) and microwave/ultrasound assisted extractions.

Purification Techniques

Adsorption and chromatographic techniques (e.g. centrifugal partition chromatography).

Formulation Processes

Through conventional (spray drying) and supercritical CO2-based processes (PGSS), we produce microparticles to enhance the solubility and controlled release of these functional ingredients. Moreover, we apply advanced drying processes (e.g. freeze drying or supercritical CO2 drying) to develop porous materials using biocompatible natural polymers.

Equipment & Facilities

iBET’s Technological Platform is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment dedicated to the Extraction (supercritical CO2 extractor up to 1000 bar, semi-pilot MW assisted extractor, sub- and supercritical water extractor), Purification (preparative and centrifugal partition chromatography and counter current supercritical CO2 column) and Formulation and sample conditioning (spray dryer, PGSS, freeze dryer).

 

Highlights

Optimization of cannabinoids extraction using supercritical fluid technology
Cannabis has gathered significant interest in recent years due to the potential health benefits associated with its bioactive compounds. The CannEx project focuses on optimizing the extraction and purification of bioactive compounds from the Cannabis plant, utilizing supercritical CO2 to fine tune the recovery of bioactive extracts from the cannabis plant (flower and leaves).

Cannabis has gathered significant interest in recent years due to the potential health benefits associated with its bioactive compounds. The CannEx project focuses on optimizing the extraction and purification of bioactive compounds from the Cannabis plant, utilizing supercritical CO2 to fine tune the recovery of bioactive extracts from the cannabis plant (flower and leaves).

The Technical Platform team utilizes supercritical CO2 to fine tune the recovery of bioactive extracts from cannabis plant (flower and leaves). The aim is to identify the optimum process parameters (pressure, temperature, extraction time) to extract bioactive compounds, namely phytocannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes, with improved bioactivity and antimicrobial effect.

This project is also supported by the two core areas of iBET’s Biosustanability. The Natural Bioactives and Nutraceuticals R&D area is responsible for the phytochemical characterization of the extracts using cutting-edge analytical methods (like HPCL-DAD and GC-MS) to identify phytocannabinoids and terpenes and also for the bioactivity evaluation focusing on the antioxidant and antiproliferative effect. On the other hand, the Microbiology for Sustainability R&D area focuses on evaluating the antibacterial effect of the cannabis extracts.

Since 2020, iBET has held authorization from INFARMED to conduct research activities related to the cannabis plant and its derivatives.

The ongoing project is funded by iBETXplore – iBET’s Innovation Program.

CannEx Project
Transforming Portugal’s Agri-Food Sector: Extraction of bioactive compounds from olive oil by-products and isolation of natural pigments
The VIIAFOOD Agenda aims to promote the structural transformation of Portugal's agri-food sector. As part of this initiative, and in collaboration with SOVENA and PRIMOR-CHARCUTARIA PRIMA, our Technological Platform team is working on extracting functional compounds from olive oil production waste streams and other natural sources.

The VIIAFOOD Agenda (launched in 2022 within the scope of the Recovery and Resilience Program – PRR) aims to promote the structural transformation of Portugal’s agri-food sector. iBET is one of the 50 partners of the consortium led by Sonae MC.

Within the HidroX project (coordinated by SOVENA), phenolic-rich extracts, known for their high antioxidant capacity, are being prepared from olive oil residues using high-pressure technologies and biocompatible solvents.

Additionally, in partnership with PRIMOR- CHARCUTARIA PRIMA, we are developing natural extracts enrich in pigments for food applications.

In these projects, sustainable and scalable methods are employed to extract these functional ingredients from vegetables, fruits, and plants. Stability tests are being conducted to ensure the suitability of these ingredients for final formulations and to enhance their shelf life.

The chemical characterization of the extracts and their potential health benefits are being evaluated by our Natural Bioactives & Nutraceuticals R&D area.

VIIAFOOD consortium
Development of collagen- and chitosan-based porous biomaterials (aerogels) from marine residues
The Technological Platform team is exploring the potential of natural aerogels for wound healing applications. These aerogels are made from natural polymers, such as collagen and chitosan, which can be sustainably extracted from marine residues.

The Technological Platform team is exploring the potential of natural aerogels for wound healing applications. These aerogels are made from natural polymers, such as collagen and chitosan, which can be sustainably extracted from marine residues. Their unique properties, such as high porosity and resistance to mechanical stress, combined with the biocompatibility and bioactivity of the materials (antimicrobial activity and tissue regeneration), make them excellent candidates for biomedical use.

Firstly, biopolymers are extracted from fishery residues with deep eutectic solvents. Following the formation of an alcogel, the material is dried with supercritical CO2 to create an aerogel, achieving the desired morphology and porosity. The produced materials are undergoing physicochemical characterization, and their biocompatibility against skin cell lines and antimicrobial capacity against pathogenic microorganisms are being evaluated by our Natural Bioactives & Nutraceuticals and Microbiology for Sustainability teams.

Building upon previous work from our team (M Batista et al., 2024), a proposal was submitted to the 3rd edition of the Alfredo da Silva Awards 2023. This proposal focused on applying the developed techniques to olive oil by-products for the creation of topically active biomaterials. We were honored to have received an Honorable Mention for this approach.

Extraction and formulation of functional compounds from agri-food by-products to develop phytosanitary ingredients
Within the TEC4GREEN agenda, the Technological Platform team is currently working on extracting functional ingredients from agro-industrial residues, focusing on identifying compounds and extracts that may be relevant to agricultural activities.

The TEC4GREEN project was launched in 2023 with a funding of 15.9 million euros from Plano de Recuperação e Resiliência (PRR), uniting 18 national partners, including iBET. This collaborative effort aims to equip the agro-industrial sector for forthcoming challenges, while mitigating environmental impact and promoting sector sustainability.

One key application of these functional ingredients is the development of natural fungicides that could potentially replace conventional pesticides, evaluated by our Microbiology for Sustainability R&D area. The chemical characterization is done at Natural Bioactives & Nutraceuticals R&D Area. In addition, we are also collaborating with ASCENZA Agro to identify functional ingredients for use as coadjutants in final formulations. These ingredients can act as emulsifiers or texturizing agents.

TEC4GREEN Consortium
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Related Teams

Natural Bioactives & Nutraceuticals Team
Teresa Serra

Head of Natural Bioactives and Nutraceuticals Area

Valorization of bioactives in food and industrial by-products: from extraction to characterization and evaluation of health-promoting effects.

Microbiology for Sustainability Team
Teresa Crespo
Teresa Crespo

Head of Microbiology for Sustainability Area

Advancing microbiological solutions that address critical aspects of food safety and quality, as well as the development of therapeutic solutions and strategies to tackle environmental challenges.