Earlier this year, Canadian-based company CryoMass Technologies announced its patent-approved technology process for cryogenic separation and processing plant material. The technology is pushing both the agricultural and cannabis industry to adopt new standards of efficiency and patenting standards.
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THE WHAT AND HOW OF CRYOGENIC SEPARATION
Cryogenic separation is a process of separating materials at below-freezing temperatures when they are brittle and easy to break and manipulate. This process can be used in tandem with a variety of gases or ethanol, with cryogenic air separation leading to the technology’s rise.
Traditional and even recently developed cannabis processing technologies require multi-step procedures, including cutting, separating, cooling, drying, and curing. It is common for the average operation to utilize several machines, processes, and an impressive amount of labor to achieve these time-sensitive operations. However, cryogenic separation can significantly cut down on these steps with a single machine.
Traditional extraction is split between solvent-based and solventless methods, with each category featuring a varied selection of chemical agents and techniques or a combination thereof.
Cryogenic devices can process up to 600 kgs (1,334 lbs) of plant material per hour. They can capture up to 97% of cannabinoids and increase solvent-based capacity by up to 400%, all while preserving overall trichome quality and quantity.
CryoMass Technologies is currently in its consumer trial phase, as they run its device through rigorous testing and efficiency improvements for large-scale operations geared towards cultivators and processors.
The company’s 11-foot tall, 160-square-foot device is no space-saving ideal. However, the cost savings of this technology and similar services are enough to offset losses, labor, and inefficiencies. While publicly available pricing is still limited, the areas for cost savings are very much evident.
CryoMass Technologies breaks down three stages of cost savings in their progress report, released in 2021. The first stage is characterized by older labor, energy, and drying and curing capital. The second stage includes savings from less-efficient processing technologies and reduces wasted products. This stage realizes dramatically reduces drying times and subsequent long exposure to oxygen, which can damage and reduce the potency of terpenes. In the third stage of cost savings, due to the efficiency that this technology exhibits over the amount of non-trichome waste it separates can be realized during the processing of trichomes into oils and extracts. Less filtering is required, which decreases post-processing costs for oil and extraction companies.
CEO of CryoMass Technologies, Christian Noël, believes that there is a wide application for this kind of technology both in and beyond the cannabis space. “Although we talk a lot about the burgeoning, $50 billion dollar cannabis/hemp industry, we believe that our technology can dramatically reduce costs and improve product quality in other multi-billion-dollar industries as well. Canada, China, and the United States all have large and diverse agricultural sectors, and having secured long-term patent protection should enable us to effectively capitalize on multiple agriculture opportunities,” stated Noël.
OTHER EMERGING CRYOGENIC SEPARATION TECHNOLOGIES
CryoMass Technologies is only the latest of a small but growing marketplace for emerging cryogenic separation technologies. Among some notable companies are:
- CryoCure hosts a selection of cryogenic cannabis curing machines with as little as a 24-hours cycle.
- Buffalo Extraction Systems provides cryogenic ethanol extraction technology for optimal cannabinoid extraction at up to 100 kg (220 lbs) per batch with a 20-minute put-through duration.
- Precision Extraction Solutions also boasts an ethanol-based cryogenic extraction device, C-40 Centrifuge, that can process up to 40lbs every 10-20 minutes for a cannabinoid removal rate of 98% and a 97% resin removal rate.
CryoMass Technologies has patent protection until 2039. And most of these companies have registered or pending patents on their product offerings, while less-known competitors are finding ways to integrate low-temperature conditions into their existing processing products. For companies looking to capitalize on cryogenic processing devices or services, this may require an additional application and legal fees, as well as a sometimes-lengthy approval process, in addition to the already lengthy R&D and testing processes.
As the standard of patent protection becomes the norm, competing companies may become even more differentiated, making the market even more difficult to enter. This makes it more likely that the best and most efficient cryogenic separation technology will be offered by a company within this profile. It is also likely that each system may specialize in a particular extraction end-result goal, which some devices being optimal for cannabinoid extraction, trichomes, or even hemp byproducts, like those used in the manufacturing and food industries.