Solubilization and extraction of curcumin from Curcuma Longa using green, sustainable, and food-approved surfactant-free microemulsions

Food Chem. 2021 Jan 30:336:127660. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2020.127660. Epub 2020 Aug 3.


Curcumin is a powerful coloring agent widely used in the food industry. Its extraction from the plant Curcuma longa is commonly done with aqueous solvent solutions. In contrast to the conventional extraction methods, the present study aimed to compare two different green and bio-based surfactant-free microemulsion (SFME) extraction systems, which are approved for food and yield a higher extracting power of curcuminoids. Two SFMEs, water/ethanol/triacetin and water/diacetin/triacetin, were investigated via dynamic light scattering. Curcumin solubility in binary mixtures consisting of ethanol/triacetin or diacetin/triacetin was studied both experimentally and theoretically using UV-Vis measurements and COSMO-RS. The SFMEs were further examined and compared to a common ethanol/water (80/20) extraction mixture with respect to their extracting ability using high performance liquid chromatography. The SFMEs containing ethanol were found to extract ~18% more curcuminoids than the SFMEs containing diacetin and ~53% more than the ordinary ethanol/water mixture.

Keywords: Bisdemethoxycurcumin (PubChem CID: 5315472); COSMO-RS; Curcumin; Curcumin (PubChem CID: 969516); Demethoxycurcumin (PubChem CID: 5469424); Diacetin (PubChem CID: 66021); Ethanol (PubChem CID: 702); Extraction; Food; Green chemistry; Surfactant-free microemulsions; Triacetin (PubChem CID: 5541).

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Curcuma / chemistry*
  • Curcumin / analysis
  • Curcumin / chemistry*
  • Curcumin / isolation & purification*
  • Diarylheptanoids / chemistry
  • Dynamic Light Scattering
  • Emulsions / chemistry*
  • Ethanol / chemistry
  • Green Chemistry Technology
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Solubility
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Spectrophotometry, Ultraviolet
  • Surface-Active Agents / chemistry
  • Triacetin / chemistry
  • Water / chemistry


  • Diarylheptanoids
  • Emulsions
  • Plant Extracts
  • Solvents
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • Water
  • Ethanol
  • turmeric extract
  • Curcumin
  • Triacetin