Scientists at the Technical University of Dortmund have developed a way of removing riboflavin (vitamin B2) from drinks.
Riboflavin is responsible for driving photooxidation reactions that affect the flavour of many drinks. For that reason, drinks often have to be packaged in light-shielded containers so that taste, quality and shelf life are not compromised.
Börje Sellergren and colleagues imprinted riboflavin-shaped pockets into a polymer by synthesising it in the presence of riboflavin tetra-acetate template molecules. Removing the template left empty receptor pockets, which the team showed could capture and remove riboflavin from milk, beer and multivitamin mixtures.
According to Sellergren, his molecularly imprinted polymer is unlike many others designed to capture or detect small molecule targets because it performs well in aqueous systems. It can extract up to 86 per cent of the riboflavin.
Nicholas Snow, who specialises in separation science at Seton Hall University, South Orange, US, said the work represents ‘an important transition [for molecularly imprinted polymers] from artificial receptors used in laboratory applications to scrubbers capable of selectively removing unwanted, toxic or irritating compounds from many types of consumer product’.