Obtaining Began in Hemp Extraction: Step A single: Select Processing Strategy


Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is legalized federally and continuing to expand in recognition. Final year, the United States saw almost 80,000 acres of licensed industrial hemp grown in 23 states (additional than tripled from the year prior), and more than three,500 state licenses issued. The numbers are not out for 2019 just however, but hemp’s higher development price in the marketplace is predicted to continue accelerating. 

At Root Engineers, we specialize in the engineering and style of cannabis cultivation and processing facilities across the nation. In the previous year, we’ve undoubtedly observed an enhance in the quantity of hemp extraction facility style projects our group has undertaken. CBD and other hemp extracts are exploding when it comes to customer recognition, and additional and additional players are joining the hemp extraction game. In this 3 portion series, we’ll outline the actions to receiving began in hemp extraction, beginning with Step A single: picking out a processing system.

When designing cultivation facilities or other company sorts, the style procedure usually begins with 1st picking out a house, then picking out a developing, and then designing the gear and systems to outfit the developing. When it comes to hemp extraction, we really propose the opposite: get started with picking out your processing system, then style your facility and systems, and ultimately decide on a house that will operate for the developing you have created. 

Hemp extraction usually entails the use of hazardous components, which can have an effect on a quantity of developing and house codes and regulations. In addition, the size and quantity of hazardous components can make a huge distinction in facility style and considerations, such as exactly where components will be situated. If you decide on your developing and/or house prior to you have defined which extraction system you will be employing, you may perhaps discover oneself in a position exactly where the developing and/or house you have bought will not really operate for your facility – which is a significant setback for each your schedule and your spending budget. Therefore, we start with extraction system considerations. 

Techniques of Extraction

Every single detail of your hemp extraction facility style will rely drastically on the system you decide on to use for extraction. There are 3 major approaches of processing hemp that we see most normally: ethanol extraction, COtwo extraction, and the much less widespread hydrocarbon extraction. (Note: though we have observed and continue to see a lot of modest scale cannabis businesses picking out hydrocarbon facilities to extract THC, we are seeing much less of it in the hemp arena and will concentrate on ethanol and COtwo extraction approaches beneath). 

Ethanol extraction entails employing alcohol to draw out cannabinoids like CBD and other useful compounds in the hemp plant. Ethanol is a higher-proof grain-primarily based alcohol that is applied as a solvent, permitting minimal harm to the plant though extracting critical compounds. Ethanol extraction is usually a faster and much less power-intensive procedure when compared to employing COtwo, and the important gear is usually much less highly-priced and quickly scalable. Nonetheless, when alcohol is combined with heat or the danger of spark, there is an particularly higher flammability danger, which leads to enhanced considerations in each gear choice and facility style. Electrical systems and ventilation each will need to be created with flammable gases in thoughts.

COtwo extraction utilizes COtwo, or carbon dioxide, as the solvent to extract compounds from the plant. COtwo is often deemed a cleaner or purer type of extraction mainly because there is no solvent residue left more than just after processing. In terms of hazardous considerations, COtwo is nonflammable which leads to fewer facility security specifications and fees, but it is an asphyxiant so does need alarms and exhaust fans in the occasion of a COtwo leak. Since of the complicated gear expected for COtwo extraction, upfront fees have a tendency to be larger, and for that reason we normally see bigger, larger throughput facilities lean toward ethanol in lieu of COtwo.

Queries to Think about When Selecting Your Extraction Gear

  • What sort of throughput are you seeking for? In our knowledge, huge throughput hemp processing facilities are leaning toward ethanol extraction gear, though smaller sized facilities may perhaps lean toward COtwo. Ethanol gear scales quickly and is much less highly-priced to buy and operate. Nonetheless, as talked about above, there are flammability issues to contemplate that you will not will need to be concerned about if you are using COtwo extraction gear. (We will dig into this additional in the subsequent post in this series.) 
  • What is your gear spending budget and all round building spending budget? These two queries go hand-in-hand and have a tendency to be inversely proportional. As we indicated, the expense of the ethanol extraction gear can be attractive in the quick-run, but your all round create-out expense will have a tendency to enhance with an ethanol procedure mainly because of the additional measures you will have to take surrounding flammability issues. Speak with gear suppliers to ascertain what sort of gear you can afford. Also involve your style group (architects and engineers) at this point so that they can inform you of some of the complications you may perhaps run into down the line with every single procedure selection. This will aid you program ahead, saving time and income. 
  • Can your extraction gear supplier deliver a UL-listed extraction technique, or a technique with third celebration peer evaluation meeting the specifications of NFPA 1, Chapter 38? This is an problem our consumers run into normally. A lot of extraction systems are not UL-listed (or other comparable NRTL certified) and if they are not, the authority getting jurisdiction (or the AHJ, i.e. the developing division) will need the technique to be peer reviewed, per NFPA 1, Chapter 38 specifications. Once more, these systems are normally inversely proportional: the non-listed, non-peer reviewed technique will probably expense much less income, but you will will need to commit time on the backend getting a certified individual to peer evaluation the technique to assure it is secure. We encourage our consumers to ask informed queries of the gear supplier such as: Is the technique UL listed (or other NTRL from supply cited above)? Beware that oftentimes they will answer “yes, all of our components are UL listed.” This is not the similar as the whole technique becoming listed. If the components are listed but the technique is not, ask if the bought gear will come with the important peer-reviewed report to appease the AHJ per NFPA 1, Chapter 38. Moreover, the Engineer of Record who supplied the peer evaluation will will need to come out to the internet site to evaluation the installation, so they can certify that it was installed in accordance with the peer evaluation they supplied. If the supplier answers no, then you will will need to discover a certified peer reviewer, which can expense important income and time, so you will want to element this information and facts into your choice with regards to which extraction technique to buy. 
  • Can the extraction gear supplier deliver a voltage and hertz that is accessible in the nation in which the gear will be installed? About one particular-third of our projects involve gear manufactured overseas in a voltage that is not accessible in the United States, so a transformer is expected to be installed, adding expense and complication to your project. 
  • What is my timeline, is it realistic or does it will need to be adjusted primarily based on gear or building timelines? As soon as you make a decision on your preferred gear supplier and technique, you will want to take a fresh appear at your timelines. Also involve your style group and contractor in this discussion as they’ll probably have a pulse on realistic permitting and building timelines.

Genuine Globe Case Study

Oftentimes, our group is brought into a project exactly where the processing system has been selected and the extraction gear has currently been bought. However, several instances the owner was not conscious of the NFPA specifications for peer evaluation, which at this stage can trigger significant setbacks in each time and income. 

We had one particular unique project we had been brought into exactly where the client had bought an extraction technique from an overseas provider. The technique was not peer reviewed, the gear was not UL-listed and the expected voltage for the gear was not accessible at the selected internet site. The client spent a shocking quantity of time and income attempting to get this technique to operate for their operation, eventually getting to backtrack. In a conversation at the conclusion of the project, the client admitted that had they gone with the larger expense manufacturer they deemed in the starting, they would have saved income and time, eventually drastically impacting their bottom line. 

Final Thoughts

Designing a hemp extraction facility is a complicated procedure with several considerations to maintain in thoughts. Understanding the right order of the style and create procedure, along with developing a trusted group and involving them at all vital points, will be important to the achievement of your operation.

Keep tuned for Aspect Two in this series, exactly where we’ll go over Step Two: Select Facility.

Disclaimer: We are not gear suppliers, we are engineers. As such, we do not claim to be professionals in all elements of extraction gear. We are a group of seasoned expert engineers specializing in engineering and technique style for cannabis processing facilities. The objective of this post is to highlight the critical considerations and complications we have come across in our knowledge finishing more than 100 cannabis facility style projects, to let processors to make a additional informed choice when picking out an extraction system. 


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