Extracting and Analyzing Forest Essential Oils

Tarping operation with the Interwrap tarpsThis project was performed a the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Forestry and involved the extraction of essential oils from logging waste material from forest stands in Eastern Canada. Essential oils (fragrant compounds often used in the flavour and fragrance industry) were extracted from bark, needles and branches of harvested trees, using a specialized method for the material.

The project was based in understanding the quantity as well as the quality of the extractable compounds as the material aged. Thus, the oils that were extracted were floral and piney when extracted at harvest (at 0 months), and earthy and spicy when left on site for 12 months.

Delving further, the spread of specific molecules changed over time as well. At harvest, the material was concentrated in compounds such as borneol, pinenes, and terpenols, while after 12 months, the material was concentrated in diterpene and heavier terpene molecules.

This project is the first step in an integrated process of valuable material extraction from waste material. The project involved the following chemical techniques:

Steam distillation and hydrodistillation

Gas chromatography

Mass spectrometry

Solvent extraction

The results of this study have been published in the journal Industrial Crops and Products in May 2014. The abstract can be viewed here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0926669014001046

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