The role of the temperature control system. Cannabis Extract

Cannabis contains many pharmacologically active substances and is a crop that has been cultivated for thousands of years. Effective procedures for extracting and isolating active ingredients from the cannabis plant are becoming increasingly important, as cannabis has become more and more medically important in recent years.
Use of cannabis products

The psychoactive substance THC is one of the reasons why cannabis has long been known. Among other things, it is used in medicine and pain management. However, in recent years, other cannabinoids have come into the scientific spotlight.

Their pharmacological effects are currently being studied in depth with surprising results. For a number of acute and chronic conditions, some have been considered beacons of hope. In particular, non-psychoactive CBD has a broad spectrum of activity and excellent tolerability.

In addition, the fats, terpenes and waxes contained in cannabis are increasingly being utilized as an additive in the cosmetic industry. Therefore, the market for cannabis extracts will continue to grow in the future, especially as more and more countries legalize the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Standard principles of cannabis extraction

In the production of cannabis products, cannabinoids and other components are first extracted from the leaves and flowers of certified cannabis plants using a variety of solvents and procedures.

The aim is to obtain the most complete and gentle extraction of all components. Regardless of the procedure used, the solvents must be separated from the extract and have no residue at the end of the process.

The solvents used are mainly ethanol and carbon dioxide, but liquefied low molecular weight hydrocarbons such as propane or butane are also used. Adherence to specific, partially variable pressure and temperature windows plays a key role in the cannabis extraction procedure.

For extraction, it must be vaporized by heating, or liquefied by cooling or pressure or at the end of the process. This process depends on the physical state of the solvent under standard conditions.

The sophisticated temperature management of the processing plant ensures efficient recovery and high extraction rates of the solvents used.
Example of CO2 extraction

The so-called supercritical CO2 extraction is a good example of the above principle. It is often used in the manufacture of cannabis extracts. Supercritical CO2 occurs when the temperature and pressure exceed a critical point, which is greater than 73.75 bar and a temperature above 30.98°C.

In this state, carbon dioxide has the density of a liquid, but it possesses the same viscosity as a gas. This means that the dissolution properties are greatly enhanced. During the extraction process, the pressure decreases, the CO evaporates and releases the dissolved material.

Due to the optimization of pressure and temperature, the CO2 system is able to obtain extracts with a complete terpene profile. Complex extractors can even achieve fractional fractionation, which allows for the separation of specific compounds.

To help remove carbon dioxide from the extract, an air heater in the evaporator provides heating. Integrated cooling, followed by the return of the gas to the liquid state, facilitates the recovery of carbon dioxide.

For the process to run efficiently and smoothly, it is critical to accurately and consistently control the temperature of all compounds and to adjust the cooling and heating capacity to variable conditions such as specific plant material and processing volumes.
Further processing of cannabis extracts

After removal of the solvent, a full spectrum crude oil is obtained at the end of the extraction process. In addition to cannabinoids, it contains other plant substances such as plant waxes, terpenoids, lipids and chlorophyll.

They are activated through a process called decarboxylation. They are heated to a definite temperature for a certain period of time. This is because cannabinoids are present in the plant, so they are also present in crude oil in the form of carboxylic acids (CBDa, THCa, etc.), which are less effective therapeutically.

There are many procedures to choose from and higher temperatures will reduce the reaction time. Decarboxylation increases the bioavailability of cannabinoids, so the body is better able to process the active ingredients.

Recent studies have shown that CBDa also has pharmacologically active properties, which will have to be studied in more depth in the coming years. Crude oil and decarboxylated crude oil are then further purified using distillation or filtration and partially separated into individual fractions.

For example, a refining process called "winterization" is used to separate terpenes and waxes from the oil and to concentrate the active ingredients: the waxes crystallize out and can be separated by filtration.