Inventors: Leone AM
Method for decaffeinating an aqueous solution using molecularly imprinted polymers
Publication date: 2001
A method and product for decaffeinating an aqueous solution, such as a cup of coffee or tea, includes exposing the aqueous solution (that is to be decaffeinated) to a plurality of molecularly imprinted polymer beads (MIPS) that have receptor sites on the surfaces thereof that include imprints that match the physical shape of at least a portion of a caffeine molecule. A quantity of the caffeine molecules align with and adhere to some of the receptor sites and, accordingly, they are removed from the aqueous solution producing a decaffeinated aqueous solution. The MIPS are contained in an enclosure having a plurality of openings large enough to permit the aqueous solution to pass through and small enough so as to prevent the MIPS from passing through. Accordingly, the MIPS are absent from the decaffeinated aqueous solution. A variety of ways of affecting the efficacy of the process are described, such as varying the time the aqueous solution is exposed to the MIPS or varying the quantity of MIPS (beads) that the aqueous solution is exposed to. Processes useful for creating the MIPS and of removing the caffeine molecules therefrom (i.e., cleaning the MIPS so that they are suitable to use in decaffeinating the aqueous solution) are described. The cleaning and subsequent reuse of the MIPS is also described.
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