This study proposes an ultrasound-horn system for the extraction of a natural active compound “artemisinin” from Artemisia annua L. leaves as an alternative to hot maceration technique. Ultrasound leaching improves artemisinin recovery at all temperatures where only ten minutes is required to recover 70% (4.42 mg g−1) compared to 60 min of conventional hot leaching for the same yield. For instance, ultrasound treatment at 30 °C produced a higher yield than the one obtained by conventional maceration at 40 °C. Kinetic study suggests that the extraction pattern can be assimilated, during the first ten minutes, to a first order steady state, from which activation energy calculations revealed that each gram of artemisinin required 7.38 kJ in ultrasound versus 10.3 kJ in the conventional system. Modeling results indicate the presence of two extraction stages, a faster stage with a diffusion coefficient of 19 × 10−5 cm2 min−1 for ultrasound technique at 40 °C, seven times higher than the conventional one; and a second deceleration stage similar for both techniques with diffusion coefficient ranging from 1.7 to 3.1 × 10−5 cm2 min−1. It is noted that the efficient ultrasound extraction potential implies extraction of higher amount of co-metabolites so low artemisinin crystal purity is engendered but a combination with a purification step using activated charcoal and celite adsorbents produced crystals with comparable purity for conventional and ultrasound samples.
The soil from an industrial area in Algeria was contaminated with Cr (8370 mg kg−1), Ni (1135 mg kg−1) and zinc (1200 mg kg−1).