Sorbitol is organic compound that contain six carbons chain and has “OH” group classified as hydroxyl groups. C6H14O6 is sorbitol’s molecular formula. Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that metabolizes slowly by living organism. Its IUPAC name is (2S,3R,4R,5R)-Hexane-1,2,3,4,5,6-hexoland has other name like D-glucitol, Sorbogem, D-sorbitol, Sorbo. It is also well known as glucitol. Its solubility in water is 2350 g/L which means it is very soluble in polar solution. It melts at 95oC and boils at 296oC. It has molar mass of 182.17 g/mol. It is clean white powdery that has sweet taste.
Sorbitol is converted in our body to glucose because our intestine absorbs sugar as monomers. Most of sorbitol production comes from corn syrup. It can be produced by reducing the glucose. The process converts the aldehyde group to the hydroxyl group. We can find sorbitol in many fruits, such as pears, apples, prunes and peaches. In our body, it is produced by converting 6-phosphate dehydrogenase to fructose. It is broken by sorbitol dehydrogenase and succinate dehydrogenase that are enzyme in carbohydrate metabolism.
Sorbitol is mainly produced by catalytic hydrogenation and enzymatic hydrolysis. The raw material is starch that found in star crops roots or grain. These following step is:
Preparing Dextrose syrup
This process usually uses corn syrup as a raw material that dilute in HCl (hydrochloric acid) at high temperature and high pressure. Firstly, this mixture is added by enzyme α-amylase that is commonly released by bacterium bacillus. The α-amylase break the starch to oligosaccharides. Then, the mixture is added again by y-amilase that the result of the reaction is glucose. It transported to the column which loaded D-xylose isomerase as an enzyme.
The pure dextrose solution is hydrogenating at high pressure and low temperature. It is usually used noble metal as catalyst that has a high stability to minimize the side product and to increase activity of the reaction. The catalyst must not contaminate the result of the reaction because sorbitol is used in the chemical manufacture or food industry. It is utilized stirred reactor to obtain high yield hydrogenated product. The catalyst used is regenerated and re-cycled.
The hydrogenated solution is decanted and transported through ion exchange. The result of this process contains 40% sorbitol. To get higher concentrations, the purified solution is evaporated to dry compound. The dry compound conceives about 70% sorbitol.
Sorbitol is important substance that used in this industry as a sweetener. It can substitute sugar that contains more calories. It is often utilized in cough syrup, mints, diet foods, candies, and sugarless chewing gum. Sorbitol is used in frozen dessert for diabetics because of slowly metabolizes. It also used for dietary food. Sometimes, sorbitol is utilized as a sweetener in cookies and other foods that is not classified as dietary items.
Sorbitol is important ingredients for toothpastes, especially for children's toothpastes. Sorbitol cangives toothpaste a sweet taste that children like very much. Sorbitol also makes toothpaste more moist that called as a humectant. It is also used as emulsifier that can to maintain the ingredient mix perfectly. Sorbitol make the toothpaste has high refractive indexes that are transparent.
Sorbitol is used for constipation treatment as laxatives. Laxatives can increase the feces movement. It works by keeping water in the colon called hyperosmotic agent the brand name is SoftLax. It is also utilized as bacterial culture media to breed Escherichia coli that can also ferment sorbitol. If sorbitol mixes with kayexalate, they can assist the body to excess the potassium ions.