A comparison of the solvent extraction of betulin and betulinic acid from tree bark with a bark oil containing a complex mixture of compounds

B. W. BioEnergy Inc. produces high-quality carbon from renewable hardwood trees (birch, alder, willow and maple) in a patent-pending torrefaction process. The trees are debarked to produce the carbon which is 10-times more effective than commercial coconut carbon. Tree bark is a waste product and currently used to fuel the torrefaction process.
Mi’kmaq and other folk medicine use birch bark extracts for topical skin treatments for centuries. The active ingredients, betulin and betulinic acid, are reported to be anti-inflammatory, antimalarial, anti-HIV, antineoplasic, anti-tumor, analgesic, astringent and depurative agents and function as a hepatoprotector for hepatitis C infections.
This proposed Mitacs project will develop dry distillation reactors and extraction techniques to obtain biologically active ingredients. Bark extracts will be analyzed using analytical equipment and extraction processes are optimized for the production of bark extracts into soaps (cosmetic industry) and as pure compounds (pharmaceutical industry). The distillation reactors will also oxidize betulin to more potent betulinic acid.
Intern: 
Hisham Sleem
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Matthias Bierenstiel
Province: 
Nova Scotia
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