The process of extracting cannabinoids from plants/herbs has been a long time ongoing topic of study. The classic method for producing cannabinoids is the Supercritical CO2 extraction. This method has been the most common and most practical method for extracting cannabinoids from plants due to its easy automation and high yields.
Fermentation has been used for centuries to preserve food and in recent years, it has been used to produce bio-fuels. However, alongside the production of fuels, the transportation, storage, and consumption of these fuels has become problematic.
Heating cannabis plants via flue gas (Graham, 2010) is the most efficient and cost-effective way to extract oils, but the process is very inefficient. This post discusses how heat causes the degradation of some of the compounds needed for the extraction process, and how to prevent this. The post also discusses how to optimize your process and how to scale up your extraction process.
What makes it difficult to expand your process?
There are many factors that can cause problems that people encounter when scaling up their processes. These problems are not unique to the cannabis/hemp industry, but are exacerbated by the effects of decades of Reefer Madness. In my 15+ years in the cannabis and hemp industry, I’ve seen reputable suppliers of laboratory equipment and supplies, such as Sigma-Aldrich (now Millipore-Sigma), Fisher-Scientific, Cerilliant, Agilent and others, go from reports of people asking for certified standard samples to setting up entire divisions of their company to meet industry needs. Progress. But we are still a newcomer to the market and face many challenges. Let’s look at some specifics to scale up the process. Darwin Millard will speak on this topic at the Cannabis Extraction Virtual Conference on June 29. June discussion. Click here for more information: The lack of available equipment at an ever-increasing scale of the process can have serious implications for project planning. This not only makes it more difficult to purchase equipment, but also limits the number of reputable equipment manufacturers you can work with. Nonlinear expansion : NEVER assume that your process will develop in a linear fashion. This is probably one of the most avoidable mistakes when scaling a process. You will quickly learn that for many processes, installing a more powerful machine is not enough to expect a commensurate increase in performance. As the amount of treatment equipment increases, so does the amount of utilities and other supporting infrastructure. Not only that, but the geometry, proportions and design of the treatment basins are factors that affect the efficiency of the process as the operation grows. Quantities of dangerous substances : The solvents and reagents used are as important to the process as the equipment. Solvents such as carbon dioxide (CO2), ethanol, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) such as butane and propane are obvious hazards, but so are refrigerants used in chillers, fuel used to run generators, steam generated to heat critical systems, and wastewater and effluents released from process and support systems. Not every community wants thousands of gallons of combustible and hazardous waste in their backyard ….. misleading the contractor/seller: It’s not a pleasant feeling to discover in the middle of a project that your contractor or equipment supplier has never installed a system of this magnitude before. Unfortunately, misrepresenting the qualifications of contractors and suppliers is commonplace in the cannabis industry. As if that weren’t enough, the consequences of poor planning and execution are often not felt until your project is delayed or compromised by misallocation of resources or undercapitalization. This applies in particular to the development of production capacities. Let’s see how you can avoid making these mistakes.
Design drawings of process equipment. When scaling a process, NEVER assume that a simple linear extension of the process will suffice. The scale of the process is often non-linear. Using rule 10 is a way to evolve the process through a gradual and iterative approach. Rule 10 is best explained with an example: Let’s say you are doing a tabletop extraction of a few grams and you want to scale up to a few thousand kilograms. Before you move on to the final scaling of the process, start with a smaller process and only multiply your banking process by 10 at a time. So if you were satisfied and confident in your results on the ten gram scale, do the same process on the hundred gram scale, then the thousand gram scale, then the ten kilogram scale, and so on, until you have verified your process on the desired operational scale. If you apply rule 10, you can be sure that your process will produce the same results with more and more work. Scaling up the process through an iterative approach can identify process issues that would otherwise not have been recognized. These include (but are not limited to) inadequate heat transfer as the process vessels become larger, inability to meet process parameters due to inadequate inputs and/or supporting infrastructure, and lower than expected product yield despite successful earlier iterations. However, this approach can be costly, especially if custom treatment equipment is required. Not all cannabis processors can use this type of equipment, typically 10, and instead must rely on the specifications of an equipment supplier or manufacturer to scale up their process.
Fall for cannabis/hemp specific processing equipment
How many times have you heard this phrase: Do we have processing equipment designed to perform tasks X, Y, Z? If, like me, you’ve been in the cannabis industry for a long time, you’ve probably done this multiple times. A major obstacle when choosing equipment for an expansion project! If the device manufacturer does not work directly with the raw material hemp/cannabis or with partners processing these materials during product development, there is no way to verify that the device will work for its intended purpose. Processing plant for phytocannabinoids under construction according to GMP. Ethanol evaporation plants are a good example. Most vaporizer manufacturers do not operate with the amounts of ethanol they claim to be able to extract from their systems. So how did they determine the evaporation rate? The short answer is: Thermodynamics, heat transfer and fluid mechanics. You modeled it. This surface area, plus this amount of heat/energy, at this pressure (or lack thereof), with this type of fluid moving through this type of material at this speed, provides an evaporation capacity of 1000 gal/hour, or some other theoretical value. But what is the actual speed when you run a solution of ethanol and cannabis through the system? For a direct ethanol system, theoretical models and experimental models are quite similar – namely because people like alcohol – there is a lot of real-world data for ethanol systems for comparison purposes for ethanol evaporator design (specifically as distillation systems, i.e., watering systems). This is not the case for ethanol and cannabis/cannabis extract systems. While it is true that as a result of prohibition, many plant and ethanol systems have been modeled theoretically and experimentally, there is a dearth of data on cannabis/conopla and ethanol systems, and the data that does exist is mostly limited to desktop and laboratory scale scenarios. So will the evaporator capacity be 1000 gal/hr at load? This is the main problem, and therefore it is essential to use equipment whose performance specifications have been established for successful scaling of the process, when relying on the claims of the equipment vendor or manufacturer. This is another pitfall, as the process of installation, operation and performance qualification is an expensive undertaking involving only a handful of equipment manufacturers serving the cannabis and hemp markets. I’m not saying there aren’t decent people among equipment vendors; there are, but always ask for data to back up their claims and qualify the vendor before you spend a seven-figure sum on treatment equipment based on a vendor.
Incorrect design and inadequate process efficiency data in increasingly large manufacturing facilities can lead to costly errors that can impede projects. Each aspect of the manufacturing process should be considered separately when scaling a production line, as each element contributes to limiting or improving system performance. This is a topic that I will address in more detail in my presentation: Challenges in Scaling Processes in the Cannabis/Hemp Industry, later this month at the Virtual Extraction Conference at 29. June 2021. Here I will give concrete examples of the consequences of faulty process scaling, as well as the importance of equipment specifications, certifications and inspections, the importance of supplier qualifications and the real costs of faulty design specifications. I hope to see you all there. In the meantime. Live long and have a treat.Cannabis cultivation is a complex process. The extraction of the plant compounds is a key component to the production of cannabis oil and extracts. It is carried out in a few steps. First, the plant material must be ground into small pieces. This is done in a grinder or a mill to produce a fine powder. The powder is then combined with solvent and strained to separate the solvents and the residual plant materials. The solvent is also separated, leaving behind the oil and the plant material. This is then put through a distillation process to separate the oil. The oil is then put through a distillation process to separate the oil.. Read more about cbd distillation process and let us know what you think.
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