Cannabis Extraction Equipment
The fact of the matter is that extraction does not start and end simply with the extraction process itself. Steps prior and after extraction are just as critical to ensure that the products made are of the highest quality in both safety and potency. In this article, we explain cannabis extraction in detail - including cannabis extraction equipment from grinding to isolation and every step in between.
A Guide to Cannabis Extraction Equipment and Machines
Each step of the extraction process - before, during and after - is crucial to create quality cannabis extracts. Using extraktLAB equipment as our example, let’s take a look through the basic cannabis extraction equipment and machines needed for any successful extraction operation:
From receiving biomass all the way down to product formulation, some method of quality management tracking is necessary. igwLAB is a GMP-compliant, specialized manufacturing execution and quality tracking system (MES) built specifically for the cannabis industry. The igwLAB provides information to help manufacturing decision makers understand how current conditions on the plant floor can be optimized to improve production output. igwLAB software was designed to help extraction facility operations manage material and information flow.
The ShuckNBuck is a hemp bucking machine that is capable of stripping hemp flower from stalk and grind to a desirable extraction consistency. The ShuckNbuck in particular is capable of processing over 1 acre of dry industrial hemp in about three hours, the bucking machine creates processor-ready ground material.
extraktLAB’s line of supercritical CO2 extractors are the most advanced, efficient, and powerful extractors in the hemp, cannabis and botanical extraction industry today. With a throughput capacity from 79 to 844 pounds per day depending on the extractor model, the E-110, E-140, and E-180 extractors are powerful, efficient, and practical systems for producers who want the highest possible quality and productivity. These extractors are designed to provide the highest throughput yield in the shortest period of time while satisfying the traceability requirements for GMP compliance. extraktLAB’s supercritical CO2 extractor series are of the highest quality and productivity built with safety, efficiency and overall quality in the extraction industry today.
Similar to Büchner funnels, DrainDroyd’s vacuum filtration system is designed to separate fats, waxes and other solids from hemp or cannabis extracts. This is done by pouring a winterized ethanol/crude oil mixture through a filter paper that captures the remaining solids while the desired liquid is pulled through via vacuum into a collection vessel or flask.
The fracTron is a falling film evaporator, or thin film evaporator that functions as a solvent recycling system. Also known as an FFE, the equipment features three liquid solvent evaporators. The evaporators feature vertical tube heat exchangers that have been optimized for ethanol removal. The system also incorporates a packed bed reactor for high evaporation performance and integrated decarboxylation. In addition to solvent recycling, the equipment has been designed to enable fractional solvent distillation. It can support three independent fractional separations with independent transfer of distillate from stage to stage using pumps. Each evaporator system is independently temperature controlled so it can be tuned to distill different liquid solvent. An inert carrier gas is incorporated to accelerate recovery while reducing flammability concerns. Programmable methods enable automated GMP process control with reporting, and GMP certified stainless-steel materials support global market requirements.
The clearSTILL is a dual-stage wiped film evaporator that doubles throughput and labor efficiency over any single stage equipment using continuous, two-pass distillation technology in a single contained cycle. Used for heat sensitive or highly viscous fluids, engineered wipers create a thin film on the evaporator surface that enables thin film evaporation and short path condensation.
extraktLAB’s pure99 chromatography system is an automated, high-pressure liquid chromatography machine for the separation and purification of botanicals and active pharmaceutical ingredients. The THC remediation machine is used to separate THC from CBD and the complex botanical matrix.
Cannabis Extraction: The Process and Methods
The Science Behind Supercritical CO2 Extractors
Supercritical CO2 extractors use carbon dioxide (CO2) at an elevated temperature and pressure to extract soluble compounds from natural products. Carbon dioxide above the critical temperature (31ºC) and pressure (1071 psi) becomes a supercritical fluid, which has an increased capacity for diffusion of molecules and solubilizing non-polar compounds. Raising the temperature and pressure of the liquid CO2 even further provides highly efficient extractions of oils in a short period of time.
The (ScCO2) extraction has become the preferred method for extracting THC and CBD oils to serve markets with the most demanding standards for safety, quality, purity and consistency. It is also preferred by consumers for the same reasons, and progressive brands are boldly stating “ScCO2 extraction” on package labels.
How to use Cannabis Extraction Machines
How often do you need to do maintenance on the co2 extractor machines?
Maintenance on the machines can be conducted by either our trained staff or we can train your staff to do the maintenance. We provide maintenance procedures and parts list with every CO2 extractor and also conduct on-site training so that the operator can do the maintenance as required. Check out our THC extraction machine guides and related information.
All of our equipment including the wiped film evaporator, the falling film evaporator, and the CO2 extractor all come standard with a maintenance reminder built right into the software.The user is able to set a maintenance interval for every maintenance item, and an alarm will alert the user when maintenance is due.
Solvent Methods for Extraction Equipment
Again, the purpose of cannabis extraction remains the same no matter the methods or equipment used. That being said, different methods tend to yield different results in the quality and efficiency of an overall extraction. While we have highlighted supercritical CO2 extraction, it is also important to examine other methods and extraction solvents in the cannabis extraction industry.
Ethanol truly is an effective method of cannabis extraction. However, there are some issues in this industry that may be cause for concern. Organic solvents like food grade ethanol are used frequently in consumable products - vanilla or other food extracts for example. But doing this on a large scale in the hemp or cannabis industry is incredibly expensive.
Thus, manufacturers commonly turn into denatured ethanol methods which include chemical denaturants used to discourage recreational ingestion and prevent alcohol taxation. Although denatured ethanol is created to prevent human consumption, it is still commonly utilized in hemp and cannabis extraction.
Extraction utilizing hydrocarbon solvent techniques with solvents like butane or propane is effective, but not entirely safe - mostly for the extractors themselves. Common solvents in this class like hexane, propane and butane - these are flammable and cannot be regarded as organic solvents. This increases chances for fire hazards.
For consumers it is not ensured that each PPM of the solvent will be removed from a consumable even via a comprehensive distillation process. Though the remaining solvents are minimal, little research was conducted that daily use of hydrocarbon products is entirely safe.
Incredibly effective in supercritical and subcritical extraction settings, CO2 is the safest, and most efficient extraction system with the lowest long-term prices for manufacturing. In its supercritical state, CO2 is converted to a liquid. It's important that the CO2 is a liquid so as to combine with all the raw materials in order to strip the desirable compounds during CO2 extraction.
While ethanol and butane aren't organic solvents, liquid CO2 is organic which additionally allows for getting organic certification and reduces emissions that are harmful to the environment. There are no chemical denaturants or residuals left at a CO2 extraction process which makes it safe for routine consumption without any issue for concern.
Where to Get Cannabis Extraction Equipment
The Most Efficient CO2 Extraction Machine For Sale
When it comes to profitability, extraktLAB creates the most advanced and efficient CO2 extractors for sale on the hemp and cannabis market.
As an example, extraktLAB’s most popular CO2 extraction machine for sale, the E-140, is capable of an impressive 422 lbs/day processing throughput all while occupying just 24 sq ft in total.
Depending on the facility in which you are operating, you can easily scale up with the E-180, with a staggering 844 lbs/day throughput in just 48 sq ft, or start small with the E-110 at 79 lbs/day in 24 sq ft.
Every CO2 extraction machine for sale from extraktLAB is built with automated process control, programmable methods, automated extraction cycles, maintenance tracking and data reporting to streamline production in a concise, powerful, intuitive extractor.
Each of these machines are built with GMP compliance in mind using FDA approved materials, batch, operator and parameter tracking and internal certifications all housed in FDA approved ASME 304 and 316 structural grade stainless steel.
Supercritical CO2 Machine Product Tour
Get access to extraktLAB’s line of supercritical CO2 extractors which considered as the highest in quality, efficiency and GMP compliance in the hemp and cannabis extraction industry.
If you are interested in taking your cannabis extraction to the next level, we’re here to help. Reach out to us at 651-600-0036 to speak with an extraction expert to discuss your current operations, bottlenecks, overall goals and how we can help you to reach them. We are in the business of making your extraction operations the best they can possibly be - call today if you are ready to step up your cannabis extraction business to a whole new level.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the solvent loss for ethanol extraction?
Hemp and cannabis biomass is an extremely absorbent material. As a consequence, a large amount of solvent volume must be added to the biomass to first solvate the biomass and then fluidize it. For ethanol extraction, approximately one gallon of ethanol is required to extract 1 lb of hemp. Solvent loss comes from the incomplete recovery of that solvent from the hemp.
The following table details the estimated solvent loss from ethanol extraction as a function of volume of hemp processed:
|Lbs processed per day||Daily requirement of
|Daily Loss of ethanol (gallons) at 90% recovery of ethanol||Max Cost of Solvent Loss per day:
$16-30/gal food grade ethanol
$6-8/ gal denatured
Calculated at $30/gal
Another source of solvent loss is incomplete recovery of solvent from the CBD hemp oil.
How many times can I recycle or reuse ethanol from an ethanol extractor?
In guidance published by the FDA in 2010, plans for the reuse of solvents must be accompanied by a Declaration of the maximum number of times the solvent can be reused.
the FDA has recognized that contaminants buildup in the solvent over time as they are recovered and reused
As a consequence, the FDA guidelines recommend that the solvents be brought back to a suitable state before Reuse. A suitable reuse is defined by the original specifications for the solvent that is being used.
In keeping with a risk-based approach to process validation, the key risk to address with solvent reuse is cross-contamination. Cross-contamination could happen when a solvent dissolves a low level contaminant from the biomass being extracted. As the solvent is removed, the contaminant can become magnified and concentrated in either the oil or the solvent during solvent recovery. Cross contamination then occurs when a contaminated solvent is used to extract a non contaminated batch.
Contaminants are typically identified during incoming inspection but may show up later during processing as the oil becomes more refined. Hemp is typically sampled at receiving by quality assurance and a series of tests are conducted on the Hemp biomass in order to determine if the incoming material is contaminated with pesticides, solvents, heavy metals or if it has significant microbial content. Contaminants that are identified in the quality inspection should be tested for build up in the extraction solvent during validation.
Other sources for contamination include carbon black or activated carbon that is typically used in ethanol extraction to remove chlorophyll from the ethanol. Combustion byproducts that are incorporated into the structure of carbon black can dissolve in the ethanol and contaminate.
According to FDA guidelines, the number of times ethanol solvent can be reused must be validated according to a validation protocol. Once the method and process has been validated, the requirements for testing each reuse batch may not be required depending on the risks identified during the validation study.
As a general rule of thumb, a solvent may be reused successfully 20-50 times. Whatever your company's current practice is, it is important to define the process, validate the process, establish specifications for reuse, and also set up a testing program to measure for contaminants. In all likelihood, a solvent changeover is probably in your future and it's cost should not be neglected in your overall operating cost model. It is easy to estimate the cost of solving change over as it is the same as the start-up cost:
|Lbs processed per day||Daily requirement of
|Cost per gallon:
$16-30/gal food grade
$6-8/ gal denatured
Calculated at $30/gal
The solvent changeover cost on a 60 day change over cycle can then be estimated on a per year basis according to the following table:
|Lbs processed per day||Change Over Frequency||Cost of Changeover||Max Annual Cost|
By extension, the solvent testing costs will also be important to address:
|Lbs processed per day||Change Over Frequency||Cost of Testing
Unknowns testing can be 5-10k USD per unknown.
|Max Annual Cost|
It is important to insist that unknowns be flagged by your laboratory.
What is supercritical CO2 extraction?
Supercritical CO2 extraction is used in hemp processing in hemp extraction for extracting CBD oil from hemp biomass. You can also be used to extract any Botanical oil from any plant material.
The co2 extraction typically takes place above the supercritical pressure and temperature for CO2. Is 1,070 PSI and 31 degrees Celsius.
Under supercritical conditions, the CO2 behaves much like hexane in terms of its solubility selectivity.
Does ethanol extraction have a greater throughput than CO2 extraction?
Hemp processing equipment can be scaled for 1 to 5 tons of extracted hemp per day. It's generally not a fair comparison to compare the throughput on an instrument from two different companies. What is fair is to specify the throughput At the tonnage process per day and then look at the operating cost for that process. You can also look at the equipment and Facilities cost to accommodate that level of Production. after you have all of your costs accounted for including the hidden costs, then you can calculate the net present value for each investment.
How much hemp can be processed per day with CO2 extraction?
CO2 extraction facilities have been scaled to do hundreds of tons per day of biomass extractions. These facilities are very safe compared to the equivalent extraction facilities that use Flammable solvents.
In Terms of extraction facilities for processing hemp, we have built facilities that will process 5 tons of hemp biomass per day in a safe, low cost, low energy, small footprint operation.
Does it cost less to process hemp with Co2 compared with Ethanol?
In fact the operating cost for CO2 extraction is dramatically less than the operating costs associated with ethanol.
Extraction with Ethanol is a process that is typically run at low temperatures. First the ethanol is cooled to below -20oC before it is introduced to the hemp. Cooling the ethanol reduces the amount of extracted chlorophyll and waxes. If you account for the energy required to chill the ethanol down to those low temperatures and then also evaporate after use, the energy bill for extracting ethanol is approximately 3-6x the cost of extracting with CO2. However, the energy cost is really not the key driver in the overall operating costs.
Ethanol extraction requires a significant amount of ethanol to be used per pound of hemp. In fact, about 1 to 1.5 gallons of ethanol must be used per pound of dry hemp in order to extract. Hemp is a very absorbent biomass material and the ethanol must fully saturate the hemp plant before any extraction can take place. For this reason a large volume of ethanol is needed to extract cbd from hemp.
The key cost driver or ethanol extraction is recovery of that solvent from the biomass. Even though many ethanol extraction equipment companies provide centrifuges and or presses to eliminate the amount of ethanol left over in the biomass, The best equipment will provide only a 90 to 95% recovery of the ethanol. This 5 to 10% loss in ethanol is a huge cost driver for extracting ethanol.
For example, suppose you wanted to process 1000 lb of hemp. You would need 1000 gallons of ethanol to start out at a cost of $16-33 per gallon for food grade ethanol for a total cost of $16,000 to $33,000. If you recovered 90% of the ethanol the ethanol loss would be $1,600 - $3,300 per 1000 lbs. Furthermore if you process 1000 pounds per day, this would be your daily loss.
In contrast, you will lose the equivalent of about $70 per day for CO2 extractions for the exact same process.
Besides energy and solvent usage, there are many other hidden costs related to extraction with ethanol including solvent reuse costs, insurance cost, increased facilities cost, and testing costs.
What is the highest yield you can expect from hemp extraction?
Industrial Hemp extraction typically has a CBD content of 5 to 15% by weight. The THC content of the Industrial Hemp is required by law to be less than 0.3% by weight in the flower that is sold.
Does raw hemp moisture affect yield?
Yes, moisture content will affect weight yield. For example, if 10% of the hemp To be extracted was water, and that water was removed during CO2 extraction, the denominator would be larger in the yield calculation, thereby giving a smaller yield number. By extension, if the same hemp was extracted but had zero water in the hemp, the overall weight percent yield of the extract would be a greater percent of the weight.
One thing to note is that in ethanol extraction, water that is in the hemp will dissolve into the ethanol. If the ethanol is removed from the CBD oil with a falling film evaporator, some of the water will be Co evaporated with the ethanol, thereby increasing the amount of water in the ethanol for each extraction cycle. Some of the water will stay in the extract and is typically removed in a secondary stirred reactor before wiped film evaporator and distillation.
Do you offer training on hemp processing and hemp extraction?
We Have taught hundreds of customers how to extract CBD oils from hemp and THC oils from cannabis. Our training package typically includes installation of the equipment, standard operating procedures, commissioning of the equipment in the facility, and training of operators on the procedures that are provided.
We also offer advanced training and quality management system implementation services for those companies who wish to achieve GMP certification.This training dresses all aspects of the quality management system, laboratory information management, batch record system, and Manufacturing execution.
What kind of employees do you need for hemp processing or hemp extraction?
There are basically four different employees that you need to have in order to run a hemp processing or hemp extraction facility. These are as follows:
- Shift manager
- Optionally analytical operators.
If your goal is to produce a quality product that complies with GMP requirements, you are going to need to have staff that can help you comply with those requirements.That typically means you need to have a quality assurance manager that is aware of the requirements And can Implement those requirements in your facility.
It is also necessary that you have a shift manager. This is someone who is organized and can schedule operators at each station and track the production output. This person will also ensure that operator training has occurred, ensure that yields are met, and also manage the workforce. They are also responsible for producing products that can form with the quality requirements of the end product.
Operators typically execute on the production plan by following standard operating procedures. They are typically trained on how to use the equipment and how to move materials in and out of the process. It is their job to record the data for the quality management system. The Operators typically will be successful if they are Hands-On and are able to follow instructions. It is also a big Advantage if the operator can conduct basic maintenance on the equipment. This requires someone who is Hands-On and has the physical strength to do simple maintenance tasks. This is important for the proper running in the efficiency of a hemp processing facility.
Last but not least, analytical operators or quality control technicians are important for providing yield and in-process testing to the manufacturing facility. They will work with quality assurance directly to ensure that incoming raw hemp biomass conforms to purchasing specifications and to Quality specifications. Quality control technicians are typically chemists and have a laboratory background.
Get in touch with our team to request a quote, learn more about our training or get help with your business plan
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