New Extraction Technologies Lining Up to Be Game-Changers

May 15, 2020
Table I: Alcohol extraction equipment.
Table II: Butane extraction equipment.
Table III: CO2 extraction equipment.
Table IV: Multi-use or other types of extraction equipment.
Table IV: (continued) Multi-use or other types of extraction equipment.
Abstract / Synopsis: 

This first “Tech Innovations” column examines the development of various extraction technologies. Extracting from botanicals is an age-old process that dates back hundreds of years, including in processing for cannabis. But now there is more interest in what extractions can do, how they can be accomplished, and what new processes or equipment can be brought to bear. This column focuses on defining extractions, looks at new technologies, including goals and objectives, what can be done with artificial intelligence, and more. We also take a look at other extraction products, techniques, and developments as discussed with various extraction experts who are working both in laboratories and with extraction equipment manufacturers throughout the country.

Extraction technology is one of the quickest evolving manufacturing processes of the cannabis industry, which is ironically one of the oldest processes for cannabis.

Hundreds of years ago in places like Morocco, the black finger hash concentrate was simply the resin from the trichomes of cannabis plants collected during hand-processing cannabis plants. The processor would roll the sticky substance between their fingers and present it as a product for sale.

What has reinvigorated extraction technology in the early part of this century was the demand from consumers to make a product with a stronger tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) percentage content.

The demand for newer, stronger cannabis products began around 2012, when recreational cannabis was legalized in Washington, and recreational consumers began looking for the strongest high they could find. That trend continues, but a growing number of consumers are interested in the cannabinoid profiles of the product, looking for a certain balanced ratio of cannabidiol (CBD) to THC in their product.

Most flower being sold when cannabis was legalized for recreational consumption was in the range of 15% to 23% THC, while the earliest cannabis extracts that were coming mostly from black market laboratories at that time were typically in the 60–80% THC range.

Better extraction technology has moved into the limelight now, out of the makeshift basement and kitchen laboratories and into legitimate ones, addressing a different consumer demand—more specific cannabinoids and terpenes, produced exactly the same every time, using developing methods sometimes coming from chemists and engineers bringing their work to the cannabis industry from other botanical extraction companies.

In Tables I–IV presented here, we showcase some of the new extraction products that have been brought to market since 2019. Cannabis Science and Technology sent out a survey in early 2020 asking vendors to supply them with any extraction products launched within the last year. This article presents those products broadly in Tables I–IV. Because information for this article is obtained sporadically over the course of many months, it is very possible that some information has been missed. The reader is encouraged to check with specific vendors for additional products as well as more-detailed information regarding what is covered here.