As most commercial extraction of artemisinin from Artemisia annua uses toxic solvents (commonly hexane) and achieves less than ideal extraction rates, this study investigated the technical and economic viability of ethanolic extraction, by means of a survey of the relevant literature, consultations with experts, laboratory-scale experiments and extraction trials on a larger scale. In order to assess the results in economic terms, quotations from suppliers of the extraction equipment and the intermediate goods were collected. Other capital and running costs (buildings and wages for instance) were assessed by local experts, taking Tanzania as an example. The results indicated that ethanolic extraction can be safe, effective and economic, more so than the use of hexane, although further work is needed on better ways to purify the extract.
Assessing the technical and economic viability of the ethanolic extraction of Artemisia annua