Sixth Wave Innovation Introduces Affinity™

by | Jan 22, 2020

Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

Starting with the industrial revolution and arriving at the current state of technology, there have been six waves of innovation. What began with industrialization has resulted in scientific advancements such as nanotechnology. Producers will save time and money by working with Sixth Wave, a nanotechnology company with lucrative patents concerning gold and cannabis extraction. They specialize in detection and extraction methods that prove chromatography is no longer an ideal solution for either process. 

Sixth Wave's Affinity™ is Poised to Out-Perform Chromatography

Recently coming out secrecy, Sixth Wave has announced Affinity™, their new cannabinoid separation and purification system that will simplify processing and innovate the field. The President and CEO of Sixth Wave, Jonathan Gluckman Ph.D., spoke with Kristina Etter of Cannabis Tech for a special live edition of A Tech Moment to detail this technology. 

Vancouver based Sixth Wave, which Gluckman and Sherman McGill started in 2013, specialized in Molecular Imprinted Polymers beads, or MIPs. Before moving into the cannabis world, they developed technology to detect improvised explosive devices, to detect flaws in medicine, and for mining extraction. Gluckman explains that they have taken their platform for mining technology and adapted it for cannabinoid extraction. The company's experience in having to separate materials from tens of thousands of liters of material per minute in the mining world has taught Sixth Wave how to handle high demand. Due to this background, they are more than prepared to handle the volumes typically associated with cannabis production.

“To address the size and scale that's required for effectively gathering the cannabinoids out of the primary extracts of cannabis extraction was a fairly small problem for us in relative terms,” Gluckman confidently stated. 

The Technology Behind Sixth Wave's Affinity™

Sixth Wave creates polystyrene beads made of only generally regarded as safe (GRAS) components that are imprinted to bind with specific cannabinoids. The process for putting together these beads starts with a lot of a monomer, i.e., styrene, which is then mixed with initiators, and a substance that contains the desired imprint molecule, such as a replica of THC, or CBD. These substances are put into a reactor, and a chemical reaction happens, which results in Sixth Wave's beads. 

The user then adds the MIPs to a blend of food-grade water and ethanol, along with the cannabis product. In the cylinders of the machines, the product is first liquified in the ethanol, then the MIPs target and capture the desired compounds from the cannabis product. Finally, the machine washes the beads in ethanol, and the resulting liquid can be evaporated to create a high potency cannabinoid product. No other way of harvesting cannabinoids is as efficient as Affinity™. 

As demands for different cannabinoids grows, Sixth Wave is developing different beads for each specific compound, such as CBD or CBN.

The MIPs created by Sixth Wave are macroporous, meaning that their surface area isn't limited to just the outside of the bead. Affinity™ will allow Sixth Wave to be ahead of the market in terms of targetting these substances and creating high-quality isolates. 

Why Affinity™ is a Worthy Rival to Legacy Chromatography

“We can do a couple of things chromatography can't,” Gluckman promises. “For example, in chromatography, it's very important to start with very clean material going into your chromatography equipment; otherwise, those chromatography media will get clogged and have extremely reduced lifetimes. In fact, if there's too much other material in it, you won't get good separation. Well, we don't want to have that problem, we can work with a very wide background of things.” 

Featuring content recovery rates in the high 90s, often 99.9%, Affinity™ offers a higher cannabinoid yield than chromatography. In addition to this, Sixth Wave designed the technology to be unlimitedly scalable, highly automated, and cost less. 

The baseline model can handle 20 kg of product a day, but the columns and pumps of the machine can be fitted for higher volume. Sixth Wave's model is to sell the equipment to their users at near cost, preferring to work with their users longterm for both parties to maximize profit. 

Affinity™ also works at room temperature, so heating or cooling won't be an issue. By using modern science in the cannabis industry, Sixth Wave will transform the world of cannabinoids extraction. 

“We can incorporate other additional models for your processing that may eliminate certain steps, like full winterization, and even distillation,” Gluckman explained. “We can go directly from crude material to getting isolate. There are some unique things about that as well, in terms of being able to remediate for heavy metals, and potentially pesticides. But, if we just do a comparison of the amount of money that's lost in cannabinoids that are not easily separated or captured through the chromatography process, there are extremely high amounts of money that are lost in here. Our goal is to make sure the total costs of operation for you is less than the losses that you might experience from just using chromatography. If we're able to improve the rest of your flowsheet and remove other processes where there are additional losses, all of those benefits should accrue to you as the user of the equipment and the final producer.” 

What Affinity™ Can Do

Through offering higher yields than chromatography, Affinity™ aims to save $.25 per gram of processed material. It is capable of producing a wide variety of market-ready products including:

  • THC-Free Crude Oil 
  • THC-Free Distillates 
  • Cannabinoid Isolates 

Sixth Wave can empower producers to create these products without having to rely on some of the expensive traditional steps, such as distillation, winterization, and chromatography. Once Affinity™ is ready for sale, savvy producers will be quick to see how much they stand to gain through using such technology. 

Live Q&A

Our audience asked several valuable questions during the Q&A. To learn the answers to these questions and more, tune into the On-Demand Webcast now!

  • How does the efficiency of your machine compare w/flash chromatography?
  • How many cycles does the affinity system run in a day?
  • What is the capability to remediate possible pesticides?
  • What support do you provide for new entrants in states where they have no infrastructure?
  • At a kilo per hour, how much ethanol will have to recovered?