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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Chemistry of Natural Products for Nutraceutical Use, Pest Management and Crop Development

Location: Natural Products Utilization Research

Title: Modification of yield and composition of essential oils by distillation time

Authors
item Cannon, Jeffery
item Cantrell, Charles
item Astatkie, Tess -
item Zheljazkov, Valtcho -

Submitted to: Industrial Crops and Products
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 11, 2012
Publication Date: May 17, 2012
Citation: Cannon, J.B., Cantrell, C.L., Astatkie, T., Zheljazkov, V.D. 2012. Modification of yield and composition of essential oils by distillation time. Industrial Crops and Products. 41:214-220.

Interpretive Summary: Peppermint, lemongrass, and palmarosa essential oils are used in many economic applications. Peppermint is widely used in aromatic applications such as toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewing gum, but it also has important culinary and pharmaceutical applications. Lemongrass has wide uses in the culinary, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics industries; it is also considered an eco-friendly pesticide. Along with uses in traditional medicine, palmarosa oil is an effective anti-helminthic and insect repellant for grains and legumes. Understanding the effects of distillation time (DT) on essential oil (EO) yield and composition may allow producers of these economically important oils to increase the production and engineer the composition of the oils while decreasing the energy required for distillation. This study demonstrated that DT can be used as a tool for obtaining essential oils with specific targeted composition from peppermint, lemongrass, or palmarosa. Secondly, the study found the optimum length of the DT for maximum essential oil yields of peppermint, lemongrass, and palmarosa, which was much shorter than the time usually used by researchers and processors. Shorter DT may save producers and processors energy and other resources. This study also suggests that comparison of data on oil composition must take into consideration the length of the DT

Technical Abstract: Field and laboratory experiments were conducted to model the length of the steam distillation time (DT) on essential oil yield and oil composition of peppermint, lemongrass, and palmarosa oils. The DTs tested were 1.25, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, and 160 min for peppermint, and 1.25, 2.5, 5, 10, 20, 40, 80, 160, and 240 min for lemongrass and palmarosa. For the three essential oil crops, DT had significant effects on both the essential oil yield and oil composition. Maximum essential oil yields of peppermint, lemongrass, and palmarosa were achieved at DT of 20 min; further increase in DT did not increase oil yields. In lemongrass and palmarosa experiments, DTs of 240 min led to 25-40% reductions in oil yield compared to yields at 20-160 min. In peppermint oil, menthofuran concentration was lower at 1.25 and 5 min and higher in the 40 or 80 min DT. Eucalyptol concentration was higher at 1.25 and lower at 5-160 min DT, while t-caryophyllene was lower at 1.25 and higher at 5 and 20-160 min DTs. In lemongrass, the major oil constituents, neral and geranial, were lowest at 1.25 min maximized in the 10 or 40 min DT, and decreased again at 80 and 160 min. Caryophyllene oxide and t-caryophyllene concentrations were low at 1.25 min and reached maximum at 240 min DT. In palmarosa, geraniol concentration was not affected by DT. However, geranyl acetate concentration increased with increasing DT from 1.25 min to 240 min. This study demonstrated that DT can be used as a tool for obtaining essential oils with specific targeted composition from peppermint, lemongrass, or palmarosa. Secondly, the study found the optimum length of the DT for maximum essential oil yields of peppermint, lemongrass, and palmarosa, which was much shorter than the time usually used by researchers and processors. Shorter DT may save producers and processors energy and other resources. This study also suggests that comparison of data on oil composition must take into consideration the length of the DT.

Last Modified: 11/24/2014
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