RAMPING UP BOTANICAL EXTRACTION METHODS IN VACUUM FILTRATION

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Source: Sterlitech Corporation

A large part of extracting commercially important compounds from plants involves passing a type of solvent over plant material, then filtering out any plant debris and undesirable by-products. This latter filtering process can be difficult to optimize if too many undesirable compounds inadvertently come along for the ride; so how can you speed things up?

In several states, cannabis sativa (AKA: marijuana) is being processed in this way to extract the active compounds THC and CBDs for medicinal use; four of these states have already passed legislation permitting recreational use, and more states are expected to do the same in the next few years. The process to extract THC and CBDs from cannabis is usually done by passing liquefied butane, supercritical CO2, or cold ethanol over the plant material. These processes are very efficient at extracting the compounds, but also need a secondary filtering process (often called “winterizing’ in butane extraction methods) to remove plant debris and/or naturally-occurring lipids and waxes.

Our Botanical Extraction (BE) filter kit and related 90mm diameter membranes have proven very useful to this area in producing a clean extract, especially in winterizing, and can yield about 2-4L of filtered ethanol extract in about 20 minutes. Sometimes, however, more is needed than can be done with a single BE kit. You may be thinking of looking for a large filter cartridge assembly to go big or go home, but this may not be the best way to go. Whether you consider a vacuum-driven filter approach, or a pressure-driven one, the points to consider are economics and complexity.

Vacuum filter systems are the staple of labs everywhere. Why? Because they are simple, easy to use, inexpensive, and usually work very well with a myriad of different membrane filters, based on the application. A single vacuum filter system can easily process up to 1 liter at a time; although by using a large receiver flask you can often bump this up to 4L, just like our BE kit above.

Pressure-driven systems do have their advantages, (very high processing volumes, high-pressures) but are usually better served in other application areas such as water processing or the petrochemical industry where the added cost and complexity are warranted. Most pressure-driven systems require the use of several control valves, bypass lines, relief valves, high-pressure pumps, and more – they can easily become complex systems.

If a single BE kit is not quite enough processing power, you may find benefit from a manifold system. Sterlitech just introduced a 3-place manifold kit to pair alongside a trio of 90mm diameter glass filter funnels; this setup quickly transforms the filtering output of a standard single-place setup to 3 times that of the single BE kit!

Manifolds can be an optimal way to add processing speed to a critically important process, and allow for less down-time and a lower cost-per-unit of finished product. In many cannabis processing facilities, these simple changes can increase your output of purified extract, leading to more business out the door and a greater return on the bottom line.

To learn more about these setups and how they may help you ramp up your production, please contact one of our knowledgeable technical reps today.

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