Oil extraction from sheanut (Vitellaria paradoxa Gaertn C.F.) kernels assisted by microwaves

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Shea butter, is highly solicited in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, chocolates and biodiesel formulations. Microwave assisted extraction (MAE) of butter from sheanut kernels was carried using the Doehlert's experimental design. Factors studied were microwave heating time, temperature and solvent/solute ratio while the responses were the quantity of oil extracted and the acid number. Second order models were established to describe the influence of experimental parameters on the responses studied. Under optimum MAE conditions of heating time 23 min, temperature 75 °C and solvent/solute ratio 4:1 more than 88 % of the oil with a free fatty acid (FFA) value less than 2, was extracted compared to the 10 h and solvent/solute ratio of 10:1 required for soxhlet extraction. Scanning electron microscopy was used to elucidate the effect of microwave heating on the kernels' microstructure. Substantial reduction in extraction time and volumes of solvent used and oil of suitable quality are the main benefits derived from the MAE process.

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Journal of food science and technology

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