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Frequently Asked Questions on Supercritical CO2 and Spinning Disc Extraction Systems
The following information is sourced from experience and from articles on the web. You may, or may not have similar experiences.
Advantages with Infinity:
-Simplicity: Because our systems are not automated, you do not have to worry about software updates, system shutdowns (in the middle of a run due to power failure or software hickups), or problematic pressure control.
-Full Automation: After consulting with Cannabis extraction professionals, we have decided against moving forward with full automation with our CO2 10L system. Our customers are getting such great results with a semi-automated system, we believe it is not advantageous to deploy fully automated PLC systems. After talking with several customers, we do not believe that a fully automated system, is the best choice for a production Cannabis oil operation.
-FlowBar: We distribute CO2 over the length of the extraction vessel, and from the inside of the Cannabis to the outside. The result is a much faster, and complete extraction. This means that you can run through 2-4 times more cycles than with the same size competition. With our system, you can do a extraction cycle in 1-3 hours. Faster extraction means more profit, so your payback is even faster with our system. To be conservative, just plan on a 3 hour extraction time, and experiment with your actual extraction time.
-Electro-Static Precipitation System: We use the action of the CO2
flowing over food-grade Teflon to produce a passive static charge. The tribo-effect charges the oil entrained in the CO2 gas so that it sticks to the first contact, which is the first collection vessel. Better collection equals less or minimal carry-over, which reduces pump maintenance.
-Tube Size: We use 1/4 to 1/2 inch Swagelok tubes and components, which allow better flow of the CO2.
-Silent CO2 Pump: We use a highly-modified industrial liquid Cat CO2 pump, which runs using a motor. Operation is silent. Our extensive modification means very minimal maintenance, and seal replacement can be done by removing the pump head (about 5 minutes), cleaning the pistons (about 10 minutes), and replacing seals (about 10 minutes).
-No Compressor: We do not need, nor use, a external pneumatic air compressor (or additional chiller to cool the compressor which gets hot from use). Compressor is so loud, that most systems which require it, will need a separate room because it's so noisy. Noise produces extractor technician fatigue.
-Swagelok Back Pressure Valve: We use a very precise BVP, which allows
us to achieve very accurate pressures. We do not use valveless technology, which produces pressure swings.
-CO2 Preheat: We use a heat exchanger on our motor-to-pump gearbox, which preheats the CO2 before it gets into the extraction vessel. By using the heat (byproduct of the gearbox), we are conserving energy and preheating the CO2.
-Pressure and Heat Zone Feedback PID: We use compact PLCs to control
the pressure (with a feedback loop via digital sensor) and three zone heat monitor, control, and feedback.
-Less Complicated: The system we have is modular, on a sturdy industrial bolt-together frame, with casters, and can be wheeled through any standard door, hallway, or elevator. The modular cart is 24 inches wide, by 48 inches long, by 71 inches in height. You will notice the clean lines, minimal tubing, and logical layout of the components. This is designed to reduce complexity, and operation of the machine is methodical and logically streamlined.
-Less Stuff Needed to Run: Our system requires a liquid CO2 supply (cylinders), and a small chiller. That's it. No air compressor, or items to support that compressor.
-Quality Extract: Our customers who perform extraction, say that their ultimate customers rave about the quality and aroma of the extracted oil. The quality terpenes that are extracted and ultimately preserved, make the end-user experience a quality one.
-New Technology: We're working on a solid state chiller (bolt-on), energy saver heating/cooling technology, acoustical ultrasonics, and other advanced technology, which not only enhance the operator experience, but will reduce cycle time, while increasing quality of extract. The bottom line is to save you time, and increase production, which result in more profit. We are also working on SDR (Spinning Disc
Reactor) technology which will allow continuous flow processing, and without pressure or CO2.
Questions and Answers
Do I need Training ?
Yes. This is high-pressure system, which requires operator training. We offer a one-day training session to introduce you into the system operation, safety, start-up and shut-down procedures, and pump maintenance. You may require more than one day of training. We suggest you do several practice runs with the machine empty (no botanicals) and then practicing using hops, or some other lower cost oil-rich botanical.
What is FlowBar, and how does it work ?
Infinity Supercritical is the first in the industry to introduce a device and method for faster deliverability and penetration of the CO2 (solvent) through the Cannabis. Every other manufacturer will introduce CO2 from one end of the botanicals extraction vessel, and exit from the opposite end. Since the CO2 has to migrate through the entire vessel, the term soak time was coined, which basically is the time it takes for the CO2 to start acting as a solvent to extract oil. It’s such an inefficient method of CO2 delivery, that some groups will actually reverse flow of the CO2, so that the botanicals get better exposure from each end of the vessel. FlowBar eliminates this issue, but delivering CO2 evenly through the entire length of the vessel, so the CO2 permeates the botanicals and can act faster as a solvent, to release the oil.
What is Electrostatic Precipitation (ESP) and why is it important with Cannabis Oil collection ?
Infinity Supercritical is the first in the industry to introduce its patent-pending electrostatic precipitation collection, which enhances the rate and amount of collection of the Cannabis Oil extract. This means that more oil is collected in the vessel where you can access it, rather than having the oil have the opportunity to go through the entire system, potentially clogging the pump system. Oil carry over is a problem with all extraction systems in the industry, and is the leading cause to time consuming maintenance, pump failure, and continual replacement of valve and pump seals.
Do extraction systems have a specific yield ?
Extraction systems are not sold based on yield or performance, since ultimately the operator has full control of whether or not a system operates to any level of yield or performance. Training is available and encouraged for the operator to learn how to operate the system and utilize the full capabilities of the extraction process. Without proper experience or training, it’s unlikely you’ll get any results. Ultimately, yield will also depend on quality of your botanicals. Quality in = quality out. We recommend that you get your Cannabis (or other botanical) tested in a lab, before you start an extraction run, so you can see what oil is available in the material. This will give you a benchmark on what to expect from your system. Also keep in mind that high pressure systems claim to have a better yield, but that yield will also include lots more waxes and other compounds, which need to be separated out later in post-processing (winterization and distillation). Our system below 2,000 psi specifically targets terpene and oil production, while leaving the majority of waxes and other non-usable compounds behind.
Should I Fractionate at the Machine Level, or During Post Processing ?
The most efficient, profit generating extraction facilities do a primary CO2 extraction which results in a crude-oil. You then winterize, rotovap, and then can fractionate after that. While you can use the three collection vessels with optional BPV’s to fractionate, it’s more efficient to do so after the CO2 extraction process.
What is Decarboxylation, and why do I need to convert THCA to THC ?
Decarboxylation (or decarbing) is removing the CO2 and water vapor (COOH) from the botanicals, which can be done in an oven, or over time via air drying. It’s a chemical reaction which carboxylic acids loose a carbon atom in the carbon chain, that converts THCA to THC. 30 minutes at 240 F or 115 C. The results are dramatic. With a 30 minute decarb, THC in Kief can go from 3.8 percent to 25.4 percent. The THCA with 30 minutes goes from 24.5 percent to 2.6 percent. Longer times did not result in any statistically better percentages, but no more than 60 minutes is required. For Cannabis Trim, the THC goes from .6 percent to 4.8 percent, while the THCA goes from 6.5 percent to 2.9 percent. Again, a longer decarb did not result in much better percentages, however depending on moisture content, times do not need to exceed 60 minutes. However, decarbing might reduce or destroy Terpenes (see below). A combined Terpene extraction, followed by decarb, and then extraction may be worth trying. Moisture content will effect time in the oven. More moisture = more time.
What about Terpenes during Decarboxylation ?
“Besides cannabinoids, the cannabis plant contains a range of terpenes, which are the volatile compounds that give cannabis its distinct smell and may act synergistically with cannabinoids. Although preheating the plant material may release more of the known active (neutral) cannabinoids, it may simultaneously also cause loss by degradation or evaporation of components such as terpenes. Our tests were intended to better clarify the balance between desired decarboxylation and unwanted degradation. Unheated cannabis material was analyzed as a control.” Source: Cannabis Oil: chemical evaluation of an upcoming cannabis-based medicine Luigi L Romano, Arno Hazekamp
Department of Pharmacy, University of Siena, Italy Plant Metabolomics group, Institute of Biology, Leiden University, The Netherlands
What are Terpenes ?
Terpenes are found in the essential oils (flavinoids) of plants,
consisting of a large group of volatile unsaturated hydrocarbons.
Found commonly in conifers and citrus trees. In Cannabis,
terpenes are the oily compound, and the main building block
of resin that contribute to the flavor, scent and color of the oil.
The aeromatic nature of the Terpene give Cannabis its
unique smell. Terpenes are volatile molecules that evaporate
easily, and are oily compounds secreted by the plants
Trichomes. Cannabinoids and Terpenoids develop from THC
and Terpenes that infuse the plants flower tops,
share the same biochemical precursor (Geranyl
Pyrophosphate). Terpenes have the aroma, while Cannabinoids
In extraction, Terpenes can be extracted separately than the
Cannabinoids, and recombined at the end of the extraction
process. Terpenes are generally extracted in lower pressure
and no heat.
What kind of pump do you use, and why is it different than others ?
Infinity Supercritical uses a high pressure, high flow, industrial liquid CO2 pump, in combination with a VFD controlled AC motor and gearbox. These pumps are highly modified from the factory to work in the Supercritical CO2 Fluid Extraction environment. Without improvements, expect only a few hours of run time, before pump failure or before major maintenance is required. After our pump modifications, expect routine maintenance around once per month. Infinity manufacturers its own seals, which have proven to have better run-time, and less fouling than the factory-supplied plunger pump seals. The CO2 pump is the heart of any extraction system. Its smooth operation is key to smooth run cycles and reduced run time, and reduced downtime. Infinity Supercritical sells high pressure seal kits, valve kits, and complete improved Cat CO2 pumps. The CO2 is heated in part, directly after the CO2 pump, but a heat exchanger connected to the gearbox, which utilizes waste heat. Additional heat is supplied to the CO2 by use of solid state electrical heaters.
How are extracts collected ? Can you run the same botanicals twice ?
Extracts are collected and taken from the three collection/separation vessels. Extraction is an art, and a combination of compounds is extracted when you vary the pressure, temperature and time. Extraction products may also vary if you decarboxylate the Cannabis before doing an extraction run. Higher pressures and temperatures result in more waxes and chlorophyll. For example, you can run the first hour without heat, to extract terpenes, etc. More than 90 percent (depends on the extraction technique) is extracted on the first cycle/run. Depending on your target compound and/or end product, you may run once, or twice.
How are the fractions separated ?
There are three collection/separation vessels. The standard configuration has one back pressure valve (which allows the other vessels to cascade), but you may select three if you would like to fractionate at three pressures and/or temperatures amongst the vessels. Fractions are separated by pressure. You can also fractionate as part of the post-processing stage, where you can employ the use of distillation equipment or a flash chromatography system. This allows you to separate terpenes, THC, CBD, and other components of the oil. They can then be recombined in a recipe, specific to the end use (custom vape pen, concentrate, etc.). This technique allows you to make a vape pen (or other product) which has a higher concentration of THC, or CBD’s, etc.
What is the end product, and how would I process this more into shatter ?
If you look at our lab result page, you'll see oil, waxes and near shatter. We have done runs that target the end product as post processing ready shatter. The key is in the extraction technique. Varying the application and timing of temperature, and pressure, will give you varying results. Shatter requires post-processing with any CO2 system.
What is the material you use for the pressure vessels and system ?
All pressure vessels are stainless steel. All tubing and pipes are stainless steel. Hoses are industrial grade, pressure rated, and braided. All fittings and valves are the highest quality Swagelok brand. The frame is our own design Caster-Beam metal, which is bolted together for modular construction and easy add-on modification. The entire build is on four heavy duty casters (two which lock in place), and the footprint is designed so that the entire system can fit though any standard door, elevator, and hallway. All components have easy access for operation and maintenance.
What is a Spinning Disc Reactor ?
Infinity Supercritical has developed a SDR that can be used for botanical oils extraction using distilled water. This is the industries first completely organic extraction method which does not use hydrocarbons or CO2. This is a quantum leap for the botanicals industry, since it is virtually a one push-button operation. This method is continuous feed, and only uses water was the solvent. Unlike legacy batch systems (CO2, hydrocarbon, etc.) you can feed material into this system at continuous rate, and it is processed within seconds.
Cannabis Cannabinoids, Terpenes and Flavonoids
Boiling point: 157° C / 314.6° Fahrenheit
Properties: Euphoriant, Analgesic, Anti Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiemetic
Boiling point: 160-180°C / 320-356° Fahrenheit
Properties: Anxiolytic, Analgesic, Antipsychotic, Anti Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antispasmodic
Boiling point: 185°C / 365° Fahrenheit
Properties: Oxidation, breakdown, product, Sedative, Antibiotic
Boiling point: 220° / 428° Fahrenheit
Properties: Anti Inflammatory, Antibiotic, Antifungal
Boiling point: 175-178°C / 347-352.4° Fahrenheit
Properties: Resembles Δ-9-THC, Less psychoactive, More stable Antiemetic
Boiling point: < 220°C / <428° Fahrenheit
Properties: Analgesic, Euphoriant
Terpenoid Essential Oil Components of Cannabis
Boiling point: 166-168°C / 330.8-334.4° Fahrenheit
Properties: Analgesic. Anti Inflammatory, Antibiotic, Antimutagenic
Boiling point: 119°C / 246.2° Fahrenheit
Properties: Anti Inflammatory, Cytoprotective (gastric mucosa), Antimalarial
Boiling point: 177°C / 350.6° Fahrenheit
Properties: Cannabinoid agonist?, Immune potentiator, Antidepressant, Antimutagenic
Boiling point: 198°C / 388.4° Fahrenheit
Properties: Sedative, Antidepressant, Anxiolytic, Immune potentiator
Boiling point: 224°C / 435.2° Fahrenheit
Properties: Memory booster?, AChE inhibitor, Sedative, Antipyretic
Boiling point: 176°C / 348.8° Fahrenheit
Properties: AChE inhibitor, Increases cerebral, blood flow, Stimulant, Antibiotic, Antiviral, Anti Inflammatory, Antinociceptive
Boiling point: 156°C / 312.8° Fahrenheit
Properties: Anti Inflammatory, Bronchodilator, Stimulant, Antibiotic, Antineoplastic, AChE inhibitor
Boiling point: 217-218°C / 422.6-424.4° Fahrenheit
Properties: Sedative, Antibiotic, AChE inhibitor, Antioxidant, Antimalarial
Boiling point: 209°C / 408.2° Fahrenheit
Properties: AChE inhibitor. Antibiotic
Boiling point: 177°C / 350.6° Fahrenheit
Properties: Antibiotic, Anticandidal, AChE inhibitor
Boiling point: 210°C / 410° Fahrenheit
Boiling point: 168*C / 334.4° Fahrenheit
Properties: Anti Inflammatory
Flavonoid and Phytosterol Components of Cannabis
Boiling point: 178°C / 352.4° Fahrenheit
Properties: Anxiolytic, Anti Inflammatory, Estrogenic
Boiling point: 250°C / 482° Fahrenheit
Properties: Antioxidant, Antimutagenic, Antiviral, Antineoplastic
Boiling point: 182°C / 359.6° Fahrenheit
Properties: COX inhibitor, LO inhibitor
Boiling point: 134°C / 273.2° Fahrenheit
Properties: Anti Inflammatory, 5-α-reductase, inhibitor