Evaluation of isoflavone extraction options at commercial scale

John D. Chea, Austin L. Lehr, Joseph F. Stanzione, Kirti M. Yenkie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Resource sustainability concerns keep increasing owing to the continuous use of natural materials without reclamation. Efforts are ongoing to find sustainable feedstocks for naturally derived products with competitive economics and properties. However, there is no established methodology for commercializing the extraction of chemicals from renewable sources. This work examined soybeans as a potential bio-based feedstock to generate isoflavones at a commercial scale. The isoflavone content in soybeans has proven beneficial in the nutraceuticals industry for its anti-inflammatory and cancer-inhibition properties and in the materials sector owing to their inherent chemical functionality and thermal resistance. Currently, isoflavone extraction is only optimized at lab scale. Thus, we present a superstructure-based framework to screen isoflavone extraction methods and assess their viability at a commercial scale. This allows the simultaneous comparison of alternative technologies using mixed-integer nonlinear programming optimization to determine the most economical pathway. Internal material recovery greatly enhances the viability at a commercial scale by reducing the annual operating cost and environmental footprint. Therefore, this work presents a powerful tool for systematically comparing extraction pathways and assessing their commercial feasibility. The successful implementation of commercial-scale extraction of isoflavone has tremendous potential for generating additional revenue for US soy farmers. Isoflavones can produce bio-based polymers and composites and are used in products such as dietary supplements, cosmetics and nutraceuticals. Similar works can be applied to extract other natural materials from renewable feedstocks and increase the production of bio-based products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1708-1725
Number of pages18
JournalBiofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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