Frequently Asked Questions on Supercritical CO2 Extraction Systems

 

The following information is sourced from experience and from articles on the web. You may, or may not have similar experiences.

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.

 

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

are odorless.

 

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.

 

My CO2 pump is making noise, what do I do ? 

Turn the system off and first check the oil level in the pump. If there is low or no oil, the crankshaft will start to make noise. If left unattended, it may damage the gearbox connection, the motor will overheat, and the system may shut down (due to overheat condition on the motor). Over heat in the motor will show higher amps in the VFD, which indicates there is a problem. The remedy is to replace the spider connector (lovejoy coupler), visually inspect the pump and fill to proper level with oil (visual sight glass on back of pump), then restart. If the motor is making noise, typically some oil on the shaft bearing will remedy the noise immediately. Email support with questions or parts.

 

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.

 

Cannabis Cannabinoids, Terpenes and Flavonoids 

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Phytocannabinoids

 

THC (Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)

Boiling point: 157° C / 314.6° Fahrenheit

Properties: Euphoriant, Analgesic, Anti Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antiemetic

 

CBD (cannabidiol)

Boiling point: 160-180°C / 320-356° Fahrenheit

Properties: Anxiolytic, Analgesic, Antipsychotic, Anti Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Antispasmodic

 

CBN (Cannabinol)

Boiling point: 185°C / 365° Fahrenheit

Properties: Oxidation, breakdown, product, Sedative, Antibiotic

 

CBC (cannabichromene)

Boiling point: 220° / 428° Fahrenheit

Properties: Anti Inflammatory, Antibiotic, Antifungal

 

Δ-8-THC (Δ-8-tetrahydrocannabinol)

Boiling point: 175-178°C / 347-352.4° Fahrenheit

Properties: Resembles Δ-9-THC, Less psychoactive, More stable Antiemetic

 

THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)

Boiling point: < 220°C / <428° Fahrenheit

Properties: Analgesic, Euphoriant

 

Terpenoid Essential Oil Components of Cannabis

 

β-Myrcene

Boiling point: 166-168°C / 330.8-334.4° Fahrenheit

Properties: Analgesic. Anti Inflammatory, Antibiotic, Antimutagenic

 

β-Caryophyllene

Boiling point: 119°C / 246.2° Fahrenheit

Properties: Anti Inflammatory, Cytoprotective (gastric mucosa), Antimalarial

 

d-Limonene

Boiling point: 177°C / 350.6° Fahrenheit

Properties: Cannabinoid agonist?, Immune potentiator, Antidepressant, Antimutagenic

 

Linalool

Boiling point: 198°C / 388.4° Fahrenheit

Properties: Sedative, Antidepressant, Anxiolytic, Immune potentiator

 

Pulegone

Boiling point: 224°C / 435.2° Fahrenheit

Properties: Memory booster?, AChE inhibitor, Sedative, Antipyretic

 

1,8-Cineole (Eucalyptol)

Boiling point: 176°C / 348.8° Fahrenheit

Properties: AChE inhibitor, Increases cerebral, blood flow, Stimulant, Antibiotic, Antiviral, Anti Inflammatory, Antinociceptive

 

α-Pinene

Boiling point: 156°C / 312.8° Fahrenheit

Properties: Anti Inflammatory, Bronchodilator, Stimulant, Antibiotic, Antineoplastic, AChE inhibitor

 

α-Terpineol

Boiling point: 217-218°C / 422.6-424.4° Fahrenheit

Properties: Sedative, Antibiotic, AChE inhibitor, Antioxidant, Antimalarial

 

Terpineol-4-ol

Boiling point: 209°C / 408.2° Fahrenheit

Properties: AChE inhibitor. Antibiotic

 

p-Cymene

Boiling point: 177°C / 350.6° Fahrenheit

Properties: Antibiotic, Anticandidal, AChE inhibitor

 

Borneol

Boiling point: 210°C / 410° Fahrenheit

Properties: Antibiotic

 

Δ-3-Carene

Boiling point: 168*C / 334.4° Fahrenheit

Properties: Anti Inflammatory

 

Flavonoid and Phytosterol Components of Cannabis

 

Apigenin

Boiling point: 178°C / 352.4° Fahrenheit

Properties: Anxiolytic, Anti Inflammatory, Estrogenic

 

Quercetin

Boiling point: 250°C / 482° Fahrenheit

Properties: Antioxidant, Antimutagenic, Antiviral, Antineoplastic

 

Cannflavin A

Boiling point: 182°C / 359.6° Fahrenheit

Properties: COX inhibitor, LO inhibitor

 

β-Sitosterol

Boiling point: 134°C / 273.2° Fahrenheit

Properties: Anti Inflammatory, 5-α-reductase, inhibitor

Infinity Supercritical CO2 Fluid Extraction for Botanical Oil