Supercritical CO2 Extractor

extraktLAB’s supercritical CO2 extractor delivers the highest daily throughput of biomass processing in the industry, while also delivering the lowest processing costs of CO2 extracted output oil.

Important Articles For Hemp Processing, Extraction Processes and Equipment

CBD Processing

man getting hemp plant for processing

A detailed guide to CBD processing from plant to product. It covers topics including industrial hemp and how to make CBD oil.

CBD Extraction

hemp extraction pillar

In this article we will talk about all different steps included in CBD extraction methods, recommended equipment and its advantages. 

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

extraction products in top of table

The Supercritical CO2 extraction process is the preferred method for producers looking to create a clean, potent product while keeping operational costs low. 

CO2 Extraction

a bottle of cbd oil with plant at the back

Your ultimate guide to CO2 extraction as the best way to extract CBD. Learn and understand what are the different types of extraction method, its pros and cons as well as how to make CBD oil.

Ethanol Extraction

worker using decarb ovens

In this article, we will take a look at the overall costs of extraction using ethanol, the differences between CO2 and ethanol extraction equipment and why producers would be wise to consider using a supercritical CO2 extraction method.

Ethanol Extraction CBD

pure99 chromatography machine

Though ethanol is commonly used in the hemp and cannabis extraction industry, ethanol extraction CBD has potential to be detrimental to the health of the user over the long-term that is often not talked about.

Industrial Hemp

Sunrise on Industrial hemp field
Industrial hemp has become widely grown and cultivated within recent years as a result of a change in legislation that has allowed hemp production commercially.

Learn More About Our Supercritical CO2 Extractor

Get latest specifications and compare our supercrictical CO2 extractors and find out which equipment fits best for your business with highest supercritical extract yield.

ethanol extraction vs. CO2 extraction

Why Supercritical CO2 Fluid Extraction?

Supercritical CO2 fluid extraction has become one of the most successful clean and green botanical extraction methods in the hemp and cannabis industry.

Capable of heightened efficiency with higher profitability, supercritical fluid extraction has become increasingly popular among extract producers like extraktLAB.

As opposed to other particular extraction solvents like hydrocarbons and ethanol, supercritical fluid extraction solvents like CO2 have higher extraction yields, increased solvation selectivity, improved fractionation and diffusion capabilities, and drastically reduced carbon emissions.

What’s more, CO2 used in supercritical fluid extraction has nearly zero possibilities for chemical denaturant contamination as found in various ethanol extracts. For these reasons, supercritical CO2 is the ideal solvent used for as supercritical fluid extraction method in this industry.

Supercritical CO2 Extractor

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Supercritical CO2 is used to extract many different kinds of biomass. The most famous and successful industrial process for supercritical CO2 extraction is the coffee decaffeination process. However there are many other essential oil extracts that are used in the supplements industry that utilize CO2 extraction. Hops is a good example. Hops are used to brew beer and add flavor to beer. CO2 traction is used to extract the essential bitter flavor from the house so that the flavors can be blended and preserved.

What is the labor difference between ethanol extraction vs. supercritical CO2 extraction?

The direct labor between the two techniques is essentially the same. However different configurations of equipment and different workflows can improve labor content and headcount.

The concept of value-added Labor in this instance is very important. Value added labor is the labor content that is spent by the laborer on direct conversion of the product into something the customer values. In reality most operations have a very low value-added labor in a very high overhead component to direct labor. We suggest the use of lean techniques and Value Stream mapping to improve workflow, reduce inventory, and by extension reduce the headcount required to produce a unit.

Highest throughput supercritical CO2 extractor

  • The extraktLAB E-180 is the fastest, most advanced and most powerful supercritical CO2 extractor on the market today.
  • It can process 844 lbs of biomass per day!
  • Designed to provide high yield in a short period of time while staying GMP compliant.
  • Variety of extraction methods.

The Most Efficient Supercritical CO2 Extractor 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 extractor, 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 extractor 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 extractor being used


Smallest Footprint CO2 Extractors

Size matters… at least when it comes to your equipment! We know that floor space is vitally important in determining what you can and can’t do. Our Supercritical CO2 Extractor E-140 Extractor is our most popular machine as it fits most facilities while providing impressive throughput.

There our situations when space is limited and every inch counts which is why our E-110 Supercritical CO2 extractor is perfect when you don’t have a lot of space to work with.

E-110 Size: Footprint: 24 sq ft Shipping Weight: 3,000 lbs Dimentions (without light mast): H 72″ x L 99″ x W 34″

Cannabis Process Guide

High Quality, High Capacity, Compact CBD Extraction Machinery
Terpene Formulation Guide from Capture to Product

extraktLAB Supercritical CO2 Extractors Series

We have the perfect machine for small, medium and large producers. Our model line makes it easy for you to scale your operations while keeping your operating costs at a minimum.

exraktLAB's e-110

For smaller producers or research labs that need a small footprint.extrakt110

extraktLAB's e-140

For larger producers who want to scale up capacity.extrakt140

extraktLAB's e-180

For larger producers who want to scale up capacity.E180

man in lab gown holding a bottle of hemp extract

Can CO2 be Used to Extract other Botanicals?

CO2 has been historically used to extract many different kinds of biomass. The most famous and successful industrial process for CO2 extraction is the coffee decaffeination process.

However there are many other essential oil extracts that are used in the supplements industry that utilize CO2 extraction. Another good example of this is found in hops. Hops are used to brew beer and add flavor to beer.

CO2 extraction is used to extract the essential bitter flavor from the hops so that the flavors can be blended and preserved.

Purity of the CO2 used in CO2 extraction

There are many grades of CO2 including industrial, food grade and medical grade. At extraktLAB, we typically use food grade CO2, but medical grade is also highly desirable. the specifications for each of these grades are published by the Compressed Gas Association or by your gas supplier.

Advanced Hemp and Cannabis Extraction

Advanced Hemp & Cannabis Extraction Guide

  Why Produce CBD Oils or Cannabis Extracts

  How to Produce Cannabis or CBD Oil

  Good Manufacturing Practices for Equipment & Processes

  What Yield Can I Expect?

  What is the Best Extraction Technique


Low Operating Costs Supercritical CO2 Extractor

Our Supercritical CO2 extractor are so easy to use we’ve seen one operator running NINE MACHINES at the same time!

Hemp Laboratory

Not everyone can do it, but with the right setup and additional equipment(supercritical CO2 extractor), you can completely optimize the time consuming process. Though our Turnkey Manufacturing Solutions we take all of the guesswork out of it, so don’t worry. Depending on your needs this can include:

  • Facility layout and laboratory process design
  • Solution configurations for phased growth
  • All processing equipment and extraction process, including 3rd-party labratory tested products matched for quality and capacity
  • Documented Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all processing steps
  • Extraction Equipment installation and training of your labor force
  • Manufacturing line commissioning to verify oil output quality
  • GMP compliance support
  • And more…

Learn More About Our Turnkey Manufacturing Solutions

Talk to our professionals about where you are and where you want to go. Doing it on your own can be overwhelming, but just remember that you are not alone. We are here to help.
turnkey crwalwalkrun

Unlimited Scalability with Supercritical CO2 Extractors

As long as you have space for another one of our supercritical CO2 extractors you can keep scaling! Our product platform provides unlimited scalability to any capacity size, and in any increment for the highest flexibility and return on capital.

Read Scaling Publication

Using CO2 for THC Extraction in Cannabis Oils

One Ton Per Day Hemp Extraction Facility

How to Scale Your Operation to Process 1 Ton per Day

The Costs of Scaling Large-Scale Ethanol Extraction

Calculate Your Cannabis Business Operating Cost

Starting a Cannabis Business? Check out our Calculators and to analyse costs, estimated revenue, yield, initial investments and important metrics for your extraction business.

supercritical CO2 extractors in facility

Ethanol vs CO2

What is the best extraction systems for your business? There are many considerations including costs, capacity and potency.

Read Extraction Method Publications

What is the Best Botanical Extraction Method

Operating Costs of Starting A Cannabis Extraction Business

CO2 Supercritical Extraction Machine: 77% Potency Right Out of the Machine

Explore the Pros and Cons of Ethanol Extraction

CO2 vs. Ethanol: Safety Concerns

Labor Difference Between Extraction with Ethanol vs. CO2 Extraction?

The direct labor between the two techniques is essentially the same. However different configurations of equipment and different workflows can improve labor content and headcount. The concept of value-added Labor in this instance is very important.

Value added labor is the labor content that is spent by the laborer on Direct conversion of the product into something the customer values. In reality most operations have a very low value-added labor in a very high overhead component to direct labor. We suggest the use of lean techniques and Value Stream mapping to improve workflow, reduce inventory, and by extension reduce the headcount required to produce a unit.

Read our Whitepaper

A Critical Analysis and Comparison of Ethanol and CO2 Extraction Techniques for CBD Derived from Hemp

Listen to our Podcast

Listen to our podcast as Dr. Jon Thompson answers your questions about extraction, processing, methodology, and other guidelines and specification when starting a Cannabis business. 

extraktTALKS with Dr. Jon

The Science Behind Supercritical CO2 Extractors

Supercritical CO2 extractor 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 “ScCOextraction” on package labels.


SCCO2 critical point graph

Need a Checklist?

Here’s a startup specifications checklist to aid in your facility search. It contains additional items you should add to the list in this article.


Great customer service and ease of tech support, within minutes I can get tech support. I would highly recommend extraktLAB equipment to anyone….


The product functionality was defined clearly and the comparison with similar products was a key highlight.


I’ve seen many solutions to the extraction problems faced by CO2 specific extraction businesses today. extraktLAB has a complete and self contained solution to these problems.

Because you come highly recommended by an industry professional and my customer experience so far has not been disappointing.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can ethanol become contaminated during ethanol extraction?

Yes, ethanol can become contaminated during ethanol extraction. It is important that you address the contamination with testing and reuse protocols. guidance for solvent reviews have been published by the FDA in 2010. Please refer to the many articles in this blog for more information on cross-contamination with extraction.

What is the electrical cost of ethanol extraction vs. Co2 extraction?

Processing a ton of hemp per day into extracts  can be an energy-intensive process depending on how the hemp is extracted. The following table compares the energy expense for ethanol extraction versus the energy expense for CO2 extraction:

Energy cost for Ethanol Extraction for 1 ton per day at 1 gallon ethanol per 1 lb of hemp
18711 litres to cool from 25 to -20
16840 litres to heat and evaporate after ethanol loss
454 kwhr to Cool from 25 to -20
481 kwhr to heat to boiling point
3105 kwhr to evaporate
4040 kwhr total @ 100% Efficiency
75% Efficiency
5387 kwhr Total
$           0.09 per kwhr
$          506.36 per day


Energy cost for CO2 Extraction at 1 ton per day including winterization
636 litres to cool from 25 to -20
636 litres to heat and evaporate after ethanol loss
15 kwhr to Cool from 25 to -20
18 kwhr to heat to boiling point
117 kwhr to evaporate
151 kwhr total @ 100% Efficiency
75% Efficiency
201 kwhr Total
$           0.09 per kwhr
$        18.92 per day for winterization
43.20 Kwhr per day for Co2 extractors
$         3.88 Per day for Co2 extractors

Would you recommend ethanol extracted oils for Vape products?

Due to the risk of chemical contaminants that are found in 25 to 30% of  ethanol extracted oils, we recommend that CO2 oils be used for Vapor Products.

Is it possible to make a solventless extract with CO2?

It is absolutely possible to make a solventless extract with CO2. Solventless extracts are typically made with subcritical CO2 extraction methods.

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.

What are the most common denaturants in ethanol?

Denatured ethanol is a mixture of denaturants and pure ethanol. Chemical companies add the denaturant to Pure ethanol so that they will not be consumed as a food.
Denatured recipes are published by the ttb that is administered by the National Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. There are many different recipes. one of the most common denaturants used in ethanol extraction is heptane. However there are other substances that may be used including acetone, isopropyl alcohol, methanol and other longer chain alcohols.
Is very limited data on the safety of heptane over the long term exposure. In fact the limit that the FDA has placed on the amount of heptane in a tincture for example was established in the 1990s on the basis of a single study published in 1981. That study the effect of heptane on Sprague dawley rats. That is why there are many disclaimers and the general guidance from the FDA is to limit the amount of solvent in any drug that is consumed.

Doesn’t ethanol extraction equipment remove all the ethanol from the biomass after extraction?

No. Approximately 5 to 10% of the ethanol is left in the biomass and is counted as a solvent loss. These solvent losses add up to operating costs. This is especially true if organic ethanol is used or food grade ethanol is utilized as the extraction solvent.

If you had an ethanol extraction facility, would you ever use CO2 just for stripping terpenes?

Ethanol extraction typically destroys the terpenes when the ethanol is removed from the extract or is distilled from the winterized oil. Many ethanol extractors are seeking a way to preserve the terpene profile of the plant in the output oil. To this end people have tried techniques such as Steam distillation, CO2 stripping, and vacuum distillation.
Certainly, CO2 can be used to strip terpenes from Hemp biomass Prior to ethanol extraction. However, vacuum distillation is by far the most gentle and effective way to harvest the terpene profile prior to ethanol extraction.

How do I model and compare the financial return of ethanol extraction vs Co2 extraction?

There are many inputs that need to be defined when creating a financial model comparing two different extraction methods. The first decision to be made is to decide what the financial metric will be used to make a decision on the superiority of one method over the other. 

In this case, we recommend the use of the Net Present Value as the way to model the return of each extraction technique because it accounts for the cash flow associated with the operation. Many ethanol extraction companies try to make the argument that ethanol extraction is lower cost because the equipment cost is less. However, the equipment cost will have very little impact on the overall profitability of the operation at the same throughput.

The best way to compare the two techniques is to fix the throughput so that an apples-to-apples comparison can be made. Comparisons such are payback time and return on investment can mislead someone into making a bad investment decision. 

So if we fix the throughput at one ton per day the cost of the hemp is equal between the techniques and operating cost variance is the only contributing factor.     

Here are the twelve key questions that need to be defined in order to do a comparison:

  1. What is the direct labor to process?
  2. What is the energy to process?
  3. What are the solvent losses? 
  4. What are the direct material startup costs including solvent startup costs?
  5. What are the cannabinoid recovery rates?
  6. How much solvent do I use, reuse, and when do I need to replace the solvent with fresh solvent?  and at what interval?
  7. What is the insurance cost for each option?
  8. What is the cost of hazardous waste disposal?
  9. What is the cost of solvent removal?
  10.  What is the cost of reuse of the solvent?
  11.  WHat is the cost of HAP emissions?
  12. What is the depreciation for each option including building costs for H2 vs F2 occupancy?

Once these questions are answered you will be able to build a pro forma income statement. 


  • Standard labor
  • Standard materials
  • Overhead

Gross margin

  • SGA
  • R&D

Net Margin

You can then hold SG&A and R&D constant for both techniques and account for the difference in depreciation to get to a net margin number.  

A cash flow statement can then be generated from net margin. One thing to note is that depreciation must be added back to net margin as it is a non-cash expense on the income statement.  

Cash flows are then added up for 5 consecutive periods (years) including the initial outlay of cash for startup working capital.  Those cash flows are then discounted at a discount rate (Weighted average cost of capital estimate at 13-17%).  

If you do this analysis, you will find that CO2 extraction will absolutely crush ethanol extraction in terms of net present value.  

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.

Is CO2 cheaper than ethanol?

A pound of food grade ethanol when purchased in bulk is $4.71/lb at current price.
A pound of food grade CO2 when purchased in bulk is about $0.04/lb at current price.

What’s the purity of the CO2 used in CO2 extraction?

There are many grades of CO2 including industrial and food grade and medical grade. We typically use food grade but medical grade is also highly desirable. the specifications for each of these grades are published by the Compressed Gas Association or by your gas supplier.

Get in touch with our team to request a quote, learn more about our training or get help with your business plan.

We are dedicated to providing you with the best advice, quality and service in the industry.

Meet Our CEO and Founder Dr. Jon Thompson, Ph.D

jon thompson

Dr. Thompson is a separations scientist, entrepreneur, and inventor. As a scientist, he has a strong technical background and industry experience in analytical instrumentation, in-vitro diagnostics, biotech, mining, and homeland security markets. During his cannabis industry career, Dr. Thompson has earned a strong track record of winning and implementing medical cannabis licenses in well-regulated, medically-modeled states. Dr. Thompson has assisted numerous companies to attain their goals in cannabis and hemp manufacturing, as well as market development, strategic marketing, and worldwide business-to-business alliance formation (including international markets).


He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, Master of Science degree in Chemistry and a Doctor of Chemistry degree–all from the University of Minnesota.