Beta-Carotene: Thermal Degradation

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Science  01 May 1964:
Vol. 144, Issue 3618, pp. 533-534
DOI: 10.1126/science.144.3618.533


Thermal treatment of crystalline β-carotene (240°C in a vacuum) results in the formation of a volatile fraction containing chiefly aromatic hydrocarbons such as toluene, m- and p-xylene, 2,6-dimethylnaphthalene, and ionene. These compounds have been identified by means of gas-liquid chromatography, infrared spectroscopy, and, in the case of ionene, by additional nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectroscopy. The principal degradation product is a yellowish-brown, glutinous mass which can be separated by means of preparative thin-layer chromatography in a number of fractions different in molecular weight. The structure of these fractions is not yet clear.