In today’s market, there are four main extraction methods: alcohol extraction with a solvent like ethanol, hydrocarbon extraction, CO2 supercritical extraction, and solvent-less extraction, typically referred to as ice water extraction.
Each process has its pros and cons. There are several factors that are key in choosing the best extraction methods for desired end-products, how much material you want to process per day, how much space you have available for equipment, and local jurisdiction codes and compliance.
Here are three things to review and consider when choosing the right extraction technology and equipment for your facility:
Safety & Compliance
Safety and compliance should be the most important aspect you consider when purchasing extraction equipment. The equipment should be professionally engineered, designed safely, and specifically for extraction. This is critical as the equipment needs to be safe to operate.
Electrical panels and control systems should always be built to UL508A standards. This should be a gatekeeper on the front end to help determine the quality and seriousness of the manufacturer. In addition, all electronics on the equipment should be UL-listed components by an NRTL. To back this up, even more, the equipment you’re considering should include a third-party peer review. This means the equipment has been reviewed by a third-party, professional engineer, and they would review the design, materials of construction, seals, electronics, etc… to ensure they meet the required NFPA codes, ASME codes, and local codes based on the state. Equipment that does not include a third-party technical report should be taken out of the running right away.
When it comes to pressure-rated equipment, ASME stamped pressure vessels are a must for all vessels with a diameter greater than 6”. This comes into play with hydrocarbon and CO2 extraction equipment. In order to put the ASME stamp on pressure vessels, the manufacture has to be certified by ASME, and that means the vessels go through critical and specific design reviews and calculations, and the manufacturing process is monitored. A buyer should always ask if the vessels have an ASME stamp from a USA manufacture. There have been several cases of overseas pressure vessels coming into the USA, specifically for the cannabis industry, that have false ASME stamps.
Efficiency & Throughput
Throughput of the equipment you’re considering investing in is critical. You want to ensure that you purchase the right equipment and use the preferred extraction method to match up with the amount of material you want to process per day, as this is commonly overlooked and becomes a bottleneck in processing facilities.
How much material can the machine process per shift? This question is extremely important, and it’s important to understand actual real-world throughputs. There is typically a large gap between stated capacities and actual capacities of equipment, and it's critical to understand the actual capacities when planning equipment for your facility. Automated equipment can be a huge benefit to throughput, as it removes bottlenecks in the operator-driven process.
Different equipment requires different levels of skill to operate and a varying number of employees to operate as well. Automation plays a deciding factor in this and finding automated extraction equipment will set your business up for success in the long term, allowing you to maximize the efficiency of your extraction process while allowing your best and brightest team members to focus on greater value-adding areas of your business.
Extraction equipment and technology are changing rapidly, so you want to be sure to select an equipment manufacturer who is on the cutting edge of technology, and has the infrastructure to support your business both in the short and long term. The hidden costs of ownership of equipment can be crippling to a business, and support from your equipment manufacturer is critical to managing these costs successfully.
When looking into how well the seller can support you after you’ve purchased the equipment, you’ll want to see if the extraction equipment provider actually manufactures the equipment – this will be critical to you from a support standpoint. Having a partner who is vertically integrated and manufactures their equipment in-house, will hands-down be able to provide you with the best support, as they control their supply chain of components. If possible, it’s strongly recommended to visit the equipment manufacturers that you’re considering to see firsthand what infrastructure and support they can offer. A well-organized and structured organization with in-house engineering, manufacturing, and technical and customer support will be able to seamlessly service your business both short and long term.