Solutions for Cannabinoid Processing

Paralab offers a complete range of instrumentation for the cannabis industry comprising solutions for productionpost-harvest, extraction and purification and also including analytical instrumentation for process and quality control.

We have a range of solutions from laboratory to industrial scale, with various levels of automation.


You can come to us with your questions!

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Solutions for Cannabinoid Processing

Paralab offers a complete range of instrumentation for the cannabis industry comprising solutions for productionpost-harvest, extraction and purification and also including analytical instrumentation for process and quality control.

We have a range of solutions from laboratory to industrial scale, with various levels of automation.


Process

Production

Bioburden Control 

Mold and microbiological contaminations should be kept under control. Maintaining Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) is a key element for this goal. However, as a production units age, bioburden contamination is a kind of ‘chronic disease’ that every grower must live with. There are technologies that allow to keep this problem under control, minimizing crop losses and if implemented from the beginning will delay the arrival of such issues. 

Post Harvesting

Bucking

Bucking is the process by which the buds are separated from the stems. It may be performed on the wet plant immediately after being harvested or on the dried plant. In this process many fan leaves are also removed. 

Trimming

This is the process when sugar leaves are removed from the buds. As for the bucking it may be done on the wet or dry flower. 

Sorting

If the buds will be dried after wet trimming it is advisable to sort by size immediately after trimming, so that each drying tray has only buds of similar size. This has great impact on drying process efficiency and control. Also, when packing the buds, customers are expecting to find buds of consistent size per package. 

Drying

Depending on the required throughput and desired product quality the drying process may take from less than one hour to more than two weeks. It may also be performed 100% naturally without the use of any technology but it requires more space and the risk of mold and microbiologic contamination increases over time.

Irradiation

If the bud’s mold  and microbiologic contaminations are above the admissible limits, the bioburden level must be reduced. Ionizing radiation is the most efficient technology. For inhouse operation, x-ray irradiation is the typical solution. 

Extraction

Milling

To have efficient and well controlled extraction processes, it is essential that batch after batch, the grinded plant is reproducibly processed to a level where the particle size doesn’t limit the mass transfer.

Extraction

The extraction techniques are used to capture the cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds of interest like flavonoids. Among the various techniques available, Paralab offers solutions for supercritical CO2 extraction (SFE),  ethanol extraction and cold water extraction. 

Winterization

Winterization is the common name for the cold precipitation process. It is used to remove waxes, lipids, and chlorophylls from extracts.

Filtration

Filtration is a common technique in cannabinoids extraction processes whenever is required to remove solid matter from the extracts.

Vaporization

The extracts coming out of ethanol extraction are essentially composed by solvents. The substances of interest, cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are in low concentration. It is necessary to remove the solvent and if possible, recover it for later use. Likewise, the ethanolic tincture resulting from Winterization processes also needs to have separated the ethanol from the cannabinoids oil. 

Decarboxylation

The cannabinoids present in the plant are mostly in the acidic form. Most of the cannabinoids therapeutic effects are seen only in the non-acidic forms. Converting the cannabinoids from the acidic form to non-acidic form is called decarboxylation. 

Purification

Distillation 

To produce Distillate the extracted cannabinoids oils must be distilled.  In the cannabis field the most common distillation type iswiped film distillation (WFD). Depending on the matrix of the initial material and desired final purity more than on distillation step may be required. 

Chromatography

For high purity isolates (>99.x%) production, chromatography is a must have process, either on the direct transformation of distillate into liquid form isolates like D9-THC or THCV, or the pre-crystallization purification of distillates to produced powdered based isolates like CBD, THCA or CBG. 

Crystallization 

Crystallization is the key process on the production of powdered base isolates like CBD; THCA, CBG, … 

Packaging

Packaging

Packaging may be performed manually, semi-automatically or fully automatically. Depending on the product to be packed, there are many solutions. Buds may be packed in bags or flasks. Liquid based oils or formulations may be packed in vials, flasks, syringes, … Solid based products may be packed in bags or flasks. The product may be kept under inert gas or vaccum atmosphere. 

Process and Quality Control

Process and Quality Control

All over the production workflow there are a number of analytical techniques that should be used to warrant an efficient production and a high-quality final product. Parameters that should be monitored include total water content (LOD- loss on drying) and water activity in the dry plant, cannabinoid potency and cannabinoid profile, terpenes profile, pesticides concentration, mycotoxins concentration, heavy metals concentration and microbiologic contamination.

Process

Production

Bioburden Control 

Mold and microbiological contaminations should be kept under control. Maintaining Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP) is a key element for this goal. However, as a production units age, bioburden contamination is a kind of ‘chronic disease’ that every grower must live with. There are technologies that allow to keep this problem under control, minimizing crop losses and if implemented from the beginning will delay the arrival of such issues. 

Post Harvesting

Bucking

Bucking is the process by which the buds are separated from the stems. It may be performed on the wet plant immediately after being harvested or on the dried plant. In this process many fan leaves are also removed. 

Trimming

This is the process when sugar leaves are removed from the buds. As for the bucking it may be done on the wet or dry flower. 

Sorting

If the buds will be dried after wet trimming it is advisable to sort by size immediately after trimming, so that each drying tray has only buds of similar size. This has great impact on drying process efficiency and control. Also, when packing the buds, customers are expecting to find buds of consistent size per package. 

Drying

Depending on the required throughput and desired product quality the drying process may take from less than one hour to more than two weeks. It may also be performed 100% naturally without the use of any technology but it requires more space and the risk of mold and microbiologic contamination increases over time.

Irradiation

If the bud’s mold  and microbiologic contaminations are above the admissible limits, the bioburden level must be reduced. Ionizing radiation is the most efficient technology. For inhouse operation, x-ray irradiation is the typical solution. 

Extraction

Milling

To have efficient and well controlled extraction processes, it is essential that batch after batch, the grinded plant is reproducibly processed to a level where the particle size doesn’t limit the mass transfer.

Extraction

The extraction techniques are used to capture the cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds of interest like flavonoids. Among the various techniques available, Paralab offers solutions for supercritical CO2 extraction (SFE),  ethanol extraction and cold water extraction. 

Winterization

Winterization is the common name for the cold precipitation process. It is used to remove waxes, lipids, and chlorophylls from extracts.

Filtration

Filtration is a common technique in cannabinoids extraction processes whenever is required to remove solid matter from the extracts.

Vaporization

The extracts coming out of ethanol extraction are essentially composed by solvents. The substances of interest, cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are in low concentration. It is necessary to remove the solvent and if possible, recover it for later use. Likewise, the ethanolic tincture resulting from Winterization processes also needs to have separated the ethanol from the cannabinoids oil. 

Decarboxylation

The cannabinoids present in the plant are mostly in the acidic form. Most of the cannabinoids therapeutic effects are seen only in the non-acidic forms. Converting the cannabinoids from the acidic form to non-acidic form is called decarboxylation. 

Purification

Distillation 

To produce Distillate the extracted cannabinoids oils must be distilled.  In the cannabis field the most common distillation type iswiped film distillation (WFD). Depending on the matrix of the initial material and desired final purity more than on distillation step may be required. 

Chromatography

For high purity isolates (>99.x%) production, chromatography is a must have process, either on the direct transformation of distillate into liquid form isolates like D9-THC or THCV, or the pre-crystallization purification of distillates to produced powdered based isolates like CBD, THCA or CBG. 

Crystallization 

Crystallization is the key process on the production of powdered base isolates like CBD; THCA, CBG, … 

Packaging

Packaging

Packaging may be performed manually, semi-automatically or fully automatically. Depending on the product to be packed, there are many solutions. Buds may be packed in bags or flasks. Liquid based oils or formulations may be packed in vials, flasks, syringes, … Solid based products may be packed in bags or flasks. The product may be kept under inert gas or vaccum atmosphere. 

Process and Quality Control

Process and Quality Control

All over the production workflow there are a number of analytical techniques that should be used to warrant an efficient production and a high-quality final product. Parameters that should be monitored include total water content (LOD- loss on drying) and water activity in the dry plant, cannabinoid potency and cannabinoid profile, terpenes profile, pesticides concentration, mycotoxins concentration, heavy metals concentration and microbiologic contamination.

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Products

Bioburden Control

Continuous production of low concentration of Ozone (O3), Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), anions like Hydroxyls (OH-) and cations. The concentrations are under the the limits defined by EU-OSHA (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work), so operators may safely work on rooms protected by this technology. It reduces pathogenic agents between 98% and 99% at the protected areas.

Bucker

This equipment removes the stems and branches

Trimmer

Depending on the model it may remove large and small leaves producing perfectly manicured flower buds. Works with wet and dry flowers.

Sorting

Sorters allow to separate by size dry or wet buds. Consistent size is more and more a required from final customers. It also plays an important role on bud’s  efficient drying control.

X-ray Irradiators

Ionizing radiation is the most efficient technology for bioburden reduction. For inhouse operation, x-ray irradiation is the typical solution.

Milling

To have efficient and well controlled extraction processes, it is essential that batch after batch, the ground plant is reproducibly processed to a level where the particle size doesn’t limit the mass transfer.

Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE)

Supercritical Fluid Extraction based on supercritical CO2 is the reference technique for medical cannabis applications. Compared with ethanol extraction, for the same throughput capacity it requires higher capital investment. However, running costs are smaller. In regular operation conditions, the extract contains waxes and lipids that must be removed later by winterization and filtration. However, other components present on ethanol extracts may be avoided if required. There are commercial units available to process from less than one kg/day of dry plant to several ton/day.

Ethanol Extraction

It is one of the most widely used extraction techniques. It is easily scalable. It is present in small extraction laboratories that process a few kg/hr up to large extraction units that process several ton/day. If used at very low temperatures, typically -40 ºC, it does not extract unwanted compounds like waxes, lipids, and chlorophylls. However, due to its polarity and the always present residual water, it extracts water soluble compounds like plant metabolites and sugars that other techniques do not extract.

In the past, column or stirred vessel extractors were the common topologies for ethanol extraction. More recently, low temperature extraction centrifuges are the first choice due to their versatility and ease of use. Depending on the model, they may allow to process just a few kg/hr or hundreds of kg/hr. They have the advantage of removing with very high efficacy the alcoholic extract solution from the biomass solid residue, reducing the losses of ethanol and compounds of interest.

Initial capital investment is lower than for SFE extraction but running costs quickly overcome those savings.

Cold Water Extraction

Cold water extraction may be used to produces a rich concentrate of cannabinoids and terpenes called Bubble Ash. This technique basically gently removes the trichomes from the flower and concentrates them. It may be later converted in high purity full spectrum oil or oil infusions. It is easily stored and preserved in a freezer below -15ºC. 

Winterization

Winterization is the common name for the cold precipitation process. The extracts obtained by Ethanol extractions carried out at warm temperatures contain waxes, lipids and chlorophylls that are unwanted compounds in high quality full spectrum oil. To remove them, the extracts must be cooled at temperatures below -20°C, typically -40°C or lower, for several hours or days. At these low temperatures, those compounds will precipitate. The extracts obtained by Supercritical CO2 also contain very high concentrations of waxe and  lipids. To remove those compounds, the extracts must be diluted in Ethanol and winterized.

Filtration

Filtration is a common technique in cannabinoid extraction processes. Bag or lenticular filters may be used after winterization to remove the precipitated waxes, lipids and chlorophylls. It may also be used to remove residual fine particles present in the crude oil coming from the initial milling process.

Vaporization

The extracts coming out of Ethanol or Hexane extraction are essentially composed by solvents. The substances of interest, cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids are in low concentration. It is necessary to remove the solvent and if possible, to also recover it for later use. For small scale operation rotary evaporators are the choice. For larger throughputs falling film evaporators are the typical solution. At the end of this process two streams are obtained: the crude oil and the recovered solvent. Vaporization is also used to recover the winterized ethanol extracts coming out from the post-processing of Supercritical CO2 extracts.

During the crystallization process to produce isolates, Pentane is used as solvent and at the end is recovered by vaporization too.


Decarboxylation

The cannabinoids present in the plant are mostly in the acidic form. Most of the cannabinoids therapeutic effects are seen only in the non-acidic forms. Converting the cannabinoids from the acidic form to non-acidic form is called Decarboxylation. The cannabinoids partially decarboxylate while the plant dries up naturally. The process can be accelerated by exposing the plant or crude oil to temperatures between 115ºC and 121ºC during one to two hours or overnight around 70ºC. A decarboxylation step in the milled plant before the supercritical extraction is advisable since cannabinoids in the acidic form have different solubility coefficients in supercritical CO2 and the extraction process is faster on the decarboxylated biomass.

Distillation

Short-path distillation is an advanced form of molecular distillation, commonly used for cannabinoids crude oil purification. Depending on the purity of starting material it may purify up to 95% after a few distillations runs.

Chromatography

It allows to produce high purity isolates (>99.x%). It is the main purification technique to obtain liquid form isolates like Δ9-THC or THCV. It also makes more efficient the production of powder based isolates like CBD, THCA and CBG, by doing a pre-purification of the distillates before the final crystallization step. Another application is for the remediation of THC on Broad Spectrum Oil as well as on the remediation of pesticides and toxins.  There are models to process from 1.5 L/day to over 40 L/day.

Crystallization

Crystallization is the key process on the production of powdered base isolates like CBD, THCA, CBG and others.

Those isolates are obtained after a crystallization step of high purity distillates or chromatography extracts. It is performed typically using Pentane solvent. To obtain high purity crystals more than a crystallization and washing cycles may be required. 

Packaging

Packaging machinery is present in different stages of the process. Cannabis producers need to pack the dry flowers under vacuum or inert gas atmosphere. Residual biomass from extraction processes may also be properly packaged to reduce space before being sent out. Final products need to be packed in proper containers – bags, bottles, vials, syringes, ...

Moisture Balance

To determine the water content of the plant

Water Activity Meter

To measure the water activity of the plant, i.e. the concentration of water that can react

ICP - MS

Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry is the reference technique for the determination of Heavy Metals like Mercury (Hg), Lead (Pb), Arsenic (As) and Cadmium (Cd). These contaminants may come either from the soil or fertilizers.

HP-GC-FID

Gas Chromatography with Flame Ionization Detection and Head-Space injection is used to measure the Terpenes Profile and Residual Solvents. At an extraction facility it may be used at reception to determine expected Terpenes yield and later at different stages to measure the efficiency of each stage. Terpenes Profile is also an important parameter on final products.

HPLC-MS

HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) with Mass Spectrometry detection is the reference technique to measure most of the Pesticides and Mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are related to fungal contamination. It may also be used for complete Cannabinoids Profiling.

GC-MS

Gas Chromatography with Mass Spectrometry detection may be used as a more advanced technique for the Terpenes Profile and Residual Solvents as well as for some Pesticides that cannot be analysed by HPLC-MS.

Vacuum Ovens

Used to dry and decarboxylate the buds

Chillers

It can be used in ethanol extraction, cold precipitation, vaporization and distillation whenever low temperature operation is required. For laboratory and industrial applications

Low Temperature Freezer

It can be used in ethanol extraction, cold precipitation, vaporization and distillation whenever low temperature operation is required. For laboratory and industrial applications

Europe • Israel • North Africa • Latin America

You can come to us with your questions!

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Contacts

info@paralab-green.com

Porto

Rua Dr. Joaquim
Manuel Costa, 946 B
4420-437 Valbom
Gondomar

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Piso 0, Sala C1
2795-156 Linda-a-Velha

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C/ Perines 35, local 2,
39007 Santander

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08005 Barcelona

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