Leveraging Existing Technology for Cannabis Oil Processing Industry

For decades countless industries from the food and beverage to pharmaceutical and other biotechnology sectors have relied on polymeric adsorbents and ion exchange resins to purify and separate solutions to get their product to market.

It is no wonder that the cannabinoid manufacturing sector is now leveraging these effective processing technologies to get an edge on the competition for cannabinoid production to increase quality and yield gains to stay competitive in the booming marketplace. Below are ways to simplify operations with these proven technologies to get the most out of your production.

1. CBD Purification with Chromatographic Separation
To comply with regulations, it is critical to have a solution that you can trust to ensure precise levels of THC remediation. The simplest and often most effective technology of choice is chromatography. With lab-proven results and a product that doesn’t burn off your product yield, chromatographic separation provides high-quality separation with good retention of the terpenes, CBD and other minor cannabinoid profiles.

Polymeric chromatography media is an alternative to silica C18 media providing higher loading rates, less chemical degradation and longer operational life. Purolite’s Chromalite™ can increase CBD operations’ bottom line and productivity, giving a boost to throughput and minimizing column troubleshooting and maintenance efforts.        

2. Heavy Metal Removal with Weak Acid Cation Exchange
In an initial distillation phase after winterization, heavy metals extracted along with cannabinoids become trapped within the distillation equipment and can cause fouling, also known as coking. The coking leads to a loss of heat transfer, and heavy metals may also catalyze the degradation of cannabinoid species during distillation.

A pretreatment step utilizing weak acid cation exchange resin or food grade chelating resin can uptake these heavy metals with great selectivity and capacity, minimizing the maintenance required or preventing the coking entirely. This pretreatment is also valuable for an extract for making edibles where distillation is skipped, where heavy metal remediation is necessary to prevent the metals from transferring to the final cooked goods for health and safety reasons.

3. Pretreatment with Guard Columns
Chromatography columns are often the workhorse of a CBD oil processing facility, removing THC to the necessary levels for sale.  These columns are also very susceptible to fouling from residual fatty acids or higher molecular weight lipophilic organics that carry over through the extraction. In operations with high fouling potential, a simple guard column using a cheaper, larger bead version of the chromatography media, such as Purosorb™, can extend the chromatography column life and productivity.  This is a common strategy in chromatography operations across all industries. 

4. Cyclization of CBD to THC with Solid Acid Catalysts
In areas where THC products are legal, sometimes it can be beneficial to create ∆8-THC from CBD isolate through cyclization. This process utilizes acid to convert CBD to ∆8-THC with high yield, often more effectively than extraction from a high THC plant strain. Utilizing a resin-based solid acid catalyst can simplify the process by avoiding product quenching and washing steps, which reduce yield with each additional step These catalysts are used in the oil and gas sectors to minimize downstream separations and simplify the reaction steps.   

5. Taste, Odor and Color Removal for Aesthetic Purposes with Adsorption
Extraction is often a non-selective process, taking both the good and bad from the plants. Some terpenes and flavonoids in the oil aren’t necessarily good for the overall aesthetics, and removal or reduction of some problem compounds is required. Depending on the polarity of the compounds in question, polymeric adsorbents or functionalized resins can be used to remove negative color, taste and odor forming compounds.  This is commonly achieved with Purosorb™ and Macronet™ products within fruit processing where bitter-tasting compounds are removed from the juice, or deterpenation is required for essential oils extracted from the peels. 

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  • Ideal for rapid lab-scale testing and feasibility studies

  • Construction Material  - Polypropylene

  • Media Volume - 200 mL

  • Maximum Operating Pressure - 1.3 MPa (200 psi)

  • Recommended Flow Rate - 60 mL/min (max 150 mL/min)