Sorbitol
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Sweets Sorbitol is the most common of polyols. ...read more..
Rowan TreeSorbitol is a sugar alcohol, C6H14O6 found in nature as the sweet constituent of many berries and fruits best known from Sorbus aucuparia (Rowan or European Rowan) from which it was isolated for the first time in 1872.

Mid 1950s, sorbitol large scale manufacture began due to new applications, such as humectant in cosmetology and sugar substitute in non cariogenic confectionery. Sorbitol is today commercially produced from starch by enzymatic hydrolysis and catalytic hydrogenation. It has wide applications as a sweetener and humectant.

C6H14O6 182.17 g mol−1

SYNONYMS
 
Sorbitol
Glucitol
D-glucitol
D-Sorbitol
Sorbite
Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate (HSH)

HSH

Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates (HSH), - polyglycitol syrups - are found in a variety of foods. They serve as bulk sweeteners, viscosity or bodying agents, humectants (moisture retaining ingredient), crystallization modifiers etc. just like sorbitol.

HSH and sorbitol are made the same way, but from starch hydrolysates of different Dextrose Equivalent (DE) and different composition. Sorbitol is the result of hydrogenation of dextrose or starch syrup with a high DE equivalent to pure dextrose, while a hydrogenation of low DE hydrolysate will lead to a mixture of sorbitol, maltitol, and longer chain hydrogenated saccharides (maltitritol a.o.) With no single dominant polyol the generic name Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate is used. If 50% or more of the polyols are of one type, it can be labelled as "sorbitol syrup", or "maltitol syrup", etc. A special variety is manufactured by hydrogenation of the mother liqueur (hydrol) after first dextrose monohydrate crystallization.

Hydrogenated starch hydrolysates are 20% to 50% as sweet as sugar depending on its particular composition. The HSH family of polyols is an approved food ingredient in Canada, Japan and Australia. U.S. food manufacturers may use HSH while FDA reviews the petition seeking approval for its use in foods.

CRYSTALLINE PROPERTIES

Sorbitol has four crystal structures - four anhydrous crystalline phases plus the hydrate. It may be crystallized from an aqueous solution or low moisture melt or even spray dried / spray crystallized. Gamma polymorph is the most stable of the anhydrous crystalline forms confirmed by its high melting point and low hygroscopicity and is the only form of significance for the confectionery and pharmaceutical industries.

Density 1.489 g/cm
Melting point 95 C
Boiling point 296 C

RAW MATERIALS

Starch crops grain or roots are the basic raw materials. Also purified starch of any origin corn, wheat, potato or cassava can be used. The hydrogenation can of course begin with dextrose liquid or dry but in real life the process begins with basic raw materials like cassava, corn or wheat.

PROCESS

The front end design depends on the selected agro commodity. The attached diagram shows briefly the process route. The various designs are described in greater detail in respective Technical Memoranda.

The basic raw materials are cleaned and the starch is extracted in a wet milling process and then purified and concentrated to 21o Be pure starch milk. So far the process is identical to the one used for the manufacturing of native starch as the end product.

Instead of drying the starch, the concentrated pure starch milk is liquefied by cooking with acid or alpha-amylase. The cooking is carried out continuously in a converter by injecting steam. A rather low DE hydrolysate is the resulting intermediate of this conversion. The hydrolysate is hydrolyzed to the very end as the monosaccharide dextrose and purified. The purified fully saccharified starch solution is concentrated and is now identical to standard high DE dextrose syrup.

The clear dextrose solution is hydrogenated in the presence of a catalyst in vigorously stirred reactors at specified pressure and temperature. It is necessary to safe-guard the process carefully, because of the hydrogen applied. Head space of the autoclave is flushed with nitrogen to remove air and its oxygen completely. Hydrogen is made on site. The hydrogenation is carried out intermittently in few hours cycles. The hydrogenated solution is decanted and subsequently subjected to carbon treatment and ion exchange. The catalyst is recycled and reused.

The purified solution is evaporated to 70% dry matter - the most usual concentration of Liquid Sorbitol. The syrup may be spray dried or crystallized to obtain a powder.

MARKET

Sorbitol MarketA review on sorbitol safety as been assessed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives concludes that it is not necessary to limit the dietary intake of sorbitol and related sugars. Nor has the Committee specified an Acceptable Daily Intake for Sorbitol. In the Code of Federal Regulations, FDA notes that sorbitol is used in food at levels not to exceed good manufacturing practices. These regulations further require that any sorbitol-containing foods whose consumption would add 50 grams of sorbitol to a persons diet must be labelled with the statement, Excess consumption may have a laxative effect.

In USA use is regulated by FDA. A maximum level of 99% of sorbitol may be used in hard candy and cough drops, 98% in soft candy, 30% in commercial jams and jellies, 30% in baked goods and baking mixes, 17% in frozen dairy desserts and mixes and 12% in all other foods.

Sorbitol has a smooth mouth feel with a sweet, cool and pleasant taste. It shares many applications with propylene glycol and glycerine and glycerine provides hard competition in the market for humectants. Sorbitol acts as a crystallization modifier or inhibitor; it can prevent syrups from forming crystals of sugar. It is used to add body and viscosity to mixtures, and can protect against damage from freezing (cryoprotectant) and drying.

Liquid sorbitol itself has a tendency to crystallize at room temperature. A product of choice for most applications is non-crystallizing sorbitol (NCS) - a 70% solution with approximately 50% sorbitol and smaller amounts of other polyols (maltitol a.o.).

POLYOLS

Global production of sorbitol has reached approximately 800.000 MT per year.

Sorbitol being the most commonly used polyol (it is the least costly) held the biggest market share among similar polyols.

Sorbitol     800,000 MT
Xylitol       200,000 MT
Mannitol   180,000 MT
Maltol       160,000 MT

Roquette Freres is the world's biggest sorbitol producer. Together with Cargill and SPI Polyols they hold a market share of over 70%. Roquette has set up several production bases worldwide and is also constructing a large sorbitol plant in the east of China.

INDUSTRIAL TECHNICAL APPLICATIONS

Sorbitol, together with other polyhydric alcohols such as glycerol, is one of the ingredients in alkyl resins and rigid polyurethane foams manufacturing.

In tobacco industries, sorbitol may give mild effect in sniff, good humectant agent, and avoid acrolein formation which formed in burned glycerine. Sorbitol is used as softener and colour stabiliser in textiles and as softener in leather industries.

The manufacture of vitamin C consumes approximately 15% of world sorbitol production. Gluconobacter oxydans are used for the oxidative conversion of D-sorbitol to L-sorbose an important intermediate in de manufacture of L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

DIABETIC AND SLIMMING FOODS

A possible pathway of sorbitol metabolism is via fructose and glycogen to glucose. This process is slow. In trials no significant increase in blood sugar were observed after intake of ice cream with 35 g sorbitol. The low glucemic index explains the interest for sorbitol in diabetic foods.

Sorbitol is actually a nutritive sweetener with 2.6 calories per gram. Table sugar has 4 calories per gram. Slimming foods take advantage of this difference in calories and add artificial sweeteners to compensate for the lower sweetness of sorbitol.

ORAL CARE.

Sorbitol does not promote tooth decay; it is resistant to metabolism by oral bacteria which break down sugars and starches to release acids that may lead to caries. In toothpaste around 20% of the sorbitol market - it serves as a humectant, bodying agent, sweetener, shelf-life extender, crystallization inhibitor. It competes with the sweeter xylitol, but in many recipes, they act together.

Sorbitol is an obvious choice for chewing gums and non-cariogenic confectionery. It is far better than table sugar. It adds sweetness with no risk of tooth decay.

Oral-care is in fact an important market with toothpaste, chewing gums, mouthwash and breath fresheners as top sellers.

SKIN CARE

Sorbitol retains moisture on the skin and leaves it feeling soft. Up to 5% is used in creams, lotions, gels, lipsticks, masks, shaving cream, aftershave lotions, shampoos and hair conditioners. Sorbitol is also number one, when it comes to clarity and translucency as in transparent bar soaps and translucent gels.