Cannabis Extraction EquipmentThe Advantage of Sonication

Ultrasonic extraction equipment has many advantages which makes it the superior extraction method for hemp and marijuana. Although extraction of bioactive compounds such as THC and CBD from cannabis can be performed with different techniques, sonication offers numerous advantages. Due to its high yields, high quality extracts, rapid process, low investment and operational costs, safe and user-friendly operation, ultrasonic extraction is the preferred method for extraction processes in small as well as in industrial cannabis extract production.

Advantages of Ultrasonic Cannabis Extraction

Probe-type ultrasonicators are a type of extraction equipment that uses ultrasound waves to break down plant material and extract desired compounds. This method has been shown to outcompete traditional extraction methods in cannabis extraction for several reasons:

    Hielscher's UP400St(400W, 24kHz) is the top-seller for mid-size cannabis extraction. The UP400St can process easily 2-4L batches and produces high-quality CBD oils and hemp extracts.

  • Efficiency: Ultrasonic probes can extract a higher percentage of target compounds from plant material than traditional extraction methods such as solvent extraction or steam distillation. This is because ultrasonic probes use high-frequency sound waves to break down plant material at a cellular level, making it easier to extract the desired compounds.
  • Rapid Extraction: Ultrasonic probes can extract target compounds from plant material in a matter of minutes, whereas traditional extraction methods can take hours or even days. This means that ultrasonic probes can process more material in less time, making it a more efficient extraction method.
  • Full Spectrum: Probe-type ultrasonicators extract the full range of bioactive compounds. This allows to produce full spectrum extracts with ultrasonic probes, which are known for their entourage effect, which can be important for medicinal or research purposes.
  • Safety: Ultrasonic probes are considered a safer extraction method compared to traditional methods such as solvent extraction, which can involve the use of flammable and potentially toxic solvents or supercritical CO2 extractors, which are operated under high pressures. Ultrasonic is compatible with any kind of solvent including water and aqueous ethanol, making it a safer and more environmentally friendly extraction method.

Briefly summarized, cannabis extraction using ultrasonic probes has several advantages over traditional extraction methods, including higher efficiency, speed, selectivity, and safety.

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Ultrasonic extraction can be combined with organically certified solvents for superior efficiency and eco-friendliness. This allows for ultrasonic production of fully natural, organic cannabis extracts.

Ultrasonic extractor UIP2000hdT (2kW) for the industrial production of fully natural, organic cannabis extracts.

 

In this presentation we introduce you to the manufacturing of botanical extracts. We explain the challenges of producing high-quality botanical extracts and how a sonicator can help you to overcome these challenges. This presentation will show you how ultrasonic extraction works. You will learn, what benefits you can expect using a sonicator for extraction and how you can implement an ultrasonic extractor into your extract production.

Ultrasonic Botanical Extraction - How to use sonicators to extract botanical compounds

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Ultrasonicators vs CO2 Extractor for Cannabis Extraction

Supercritical CO2 extraction is a conventional method for the production of cannabis extracts. However, due to high costs, safety issues and complex operation, ultrasonicators have replaced numerous installed CO2 extractors. Read below the advantages by which sonication outcompetes supercritical CO2 extraction.

  1. Yield: Ultrasonic extraction has been shown to produce higher yields of desired compounds compared to CO2 extraction. This is because ultrasonic extraction can break down plant material at a cellular level, allowing for more efficient extraction of the target compounds.
  2. Speed: Ultrasonic extraction can be completed in a matter of minutes, while CO2 extraction can take several hours. This means that ultrasonic extraction is a faster method and can process larger volumes of material in less time.
  3. Selectivity: Ultrasonic extraction gives broad-spectrum extracts, which contain a broad range of bioactive compounds. Broad spectrum extracts are value for their so-called entourage effect, where substances support and reinforce their specific effects synergistically. This makes ultrasonic extraction a great option for therapeutic extracts as well as for research purposes.
  4. Energy Efficiency: Ultrasonic extraction uses less energy than CO2 extraction, making it a more environmentally friendly option.
  5. Equipment Cost: Ultrasonic extraction equipment is generally less expensive than CO2 extraction equipment, which can make it a more accessible option for small-scale producers.
  6. Safety: Ultrasonic extraction can be run without using flammable or toxic solvents. Water or aqueous ethanol are the most commonly used solvents for cannabis extraction. In contrast, CO2 extraction requires the use of CO2 under high pressure. With these high pressures comes the risk of CO2 leakage or equipment failure and the related dangers of high-pressure. Therefore, ultrasonic extraction is considered a safer method for both operators and the environment.

Ultrasonic Cannabis ExtractionThe Working Principle of Ultrasound in Extraction

Extraction by ultrasound is based on the principle of acoustic cavitation. The application of high-power ultrasound to liquids and slurries results in intense cavitation and shear forces. In a slurry of leaves, buds, flowers, stems and other plant parts, the vegetable cell are disrupted by ultrasonic shear forces and the bioactive compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are released. Ultrasonic extraction is well established as highly efficient and reliable technique to isolate bioactive plant compounds. Especially in the production of high-quality cannabis oils sonication has convinced due to its high yields (higher extract output), excellent quality (full spectrum) and rapid processing time. The application of ultrasound waves is a mechanical treatment, which is non-toxic, safe, and environmentally-friendly.

Ultrasonic Homogenizer UP400St for the agitated batch extraction of botanicals.

Ultrasonic Extraction of Botanicals - 8 Liter Batch - Ultrasonicator UP400S

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2kW batch sonication setup for the extraction of cannabis

120L Ultrasonic Batch Extraction of Cannabis with UIP2000hdT and Agitator

Why is Ultrasonic Extraction the Best Method?

  • Higher yield
  • High quality
  • No thermal degradation
  • Rapid extraction
  • Simple and Safe Operation
  • Green Extraction
Ultrasonic botanical extraction gives higher yields. The Hielscher UIP2000hdT, 2000 watts homogenizer is powerful enough to extract batches from 10 liters to 120 liters easily.

Ultrasonic Extraction of Botanicals - 30 Liter / 8 Gallon Batch

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At a GlanceThe Advantages of Hielscher Ultrasonic Extractors

 
Efficiency

  • Higher yields
  • Rapid extraction processwithin minutes
  • High quality extractsmild, non-thermal extraction
  • Green solvents (water, ethanol, glycerin, veget. oils etc.)

 
Simplicity

  • Plug-and-play – Set-up and operate within minutes
  • High throughput – For large scale extract production
  • Batch-wise or continuous inline operation
  • Simple installation and start-up
  • Portable / Movable – Portable units or built on wheels
  • Linear scale up – add another ultrasonic system in parallel to increase capacity
  • Remote monitoring and control – via PC, smart phone or tablet
  • No process supervision required – Set-up and run
  • High-Performance – designed for continuous 24/7 production
  • Robustness and low maintenance
  • High qualitydesigned and built in Germany
  • Quick load and discharge between lots
  • Easy to clean

 
Safety

  • Simple and safe to run
  • Solvent-less or solvent-based extraction (water, ethanol, vegetable oils, glycerin, etc.)
  • No high pressures and temperatures
  • ATEX-certified explosion-proof systems available
  • Easy to control (also via remote control)
UP400St ultrasonic extraction of botanicals in 8L batch

UP400St Ultrasonic Extraction of Botanicals such as Cannabis in 8L Batch

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Ultrasonic Equipment for Cannabis Extraction

Ultrasonic botanical extractor UIP4000hdT: Ultrasonic extraction equipment is the superior method to produce high-quality hemp oil or CBD oil. Ultrasonic hemp extraction is a safe and rapid technique that releases high yields of cannabinoids from hemp and cannabis. Ultrasonic hemp oil extraction offer many advantages in comparison to supercritical CO2 extraction, hydrocarbon extraction and conventional ethanol extraction.Hielscher Ultrasonic is your trusted partner when it comes to high performance ultrasonic extraction equipment for the extraction of cannabis and other botanicals. With countless installations worldwide, Hielscher ultrasonic extractors are well recognized for their high extraction rate, reliability and robustness.
From smaller compact bench-top ultrasonicators such as the UP400St (400W) to the worldwide most powerful UIP16000hdT, Hielscher cover the full range of ultrasound extraction equipment. This allows us to recommend you the ultrasonic extractor most suitable for your process requirements.

Design, Manufacturing and ConsultingQuality Made in Germany

Hielscher ultrasonicators are well-known for their highest quality and design standards. Robustness and easy operation allow the smooth integration of our ultrasonicators into industrial facilities. Rough conditions and demanding environments are easily handled by Hielscher ultrasonicators.

Hielscher Ultrasonics is an ISO certified company and put special emphasis on high-performance ultrasonicators featuring state-of-the-art technology and user-friendliness. Of course, Hielscher ultrasonicators are CE compliant and meet the requirements of UL, CSA and RoHs.
The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch VolumeFlow RateRecommended Devices
1 to 500mLUP100H
10 to 8000mLUP200Ht, UP400St
0.5-150L0.2 to 4L/minUIP2000hdT
1 to 300L2 to 10L/minUIP4000hdT
10 to 100L/minUIP16000
largercluster of UIP16000

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  • 400 watts ultrasonic processor for small batch extraction (up to 8L)



  • 2000 watts ultrasonic processor for large batch (e.g. 150L) or continuous inline extraction



  • 4000 watts ultrasonic processor for large batch (e.g. 300L) or continuous inline extraction



  • 16000 watts ultrasonic processor for continuous inline extraction


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Facts Worth Knowing

Overview and Comparison of the Most Common Cannabis Extraction Methods

Ultrasonic Extraction

Product: Ultrasonic extraction produces a high-quality full spectrum extract. The crude extract is refined by filtration, distillation and/or winterization.
Equipment cost: starting at approx. US$5,000 up to several US$100,000 depending on capacity and configuration
Setup: in batch/barrel or continuous inline operation
Technical skills: easy and safe to handle and operate
Solvent: all kind of solvents can be used such as water, water-alcohol mixture, isopropyl alcohol, hexane, ethanol, methanol, butane, vegetable oils (olive oil coconut oil), glycerine, etc.
Compounds targeted: full spectrum (all available cannabinoids and terpenes)
Main advantages: high yield, easy to operate, inexpensive, easy scale-up to industrial production

Solvent Extraction (alcohol, ethanol)

Product: typically a crude extract that requires further refinement such as winterization or filtration. Commonly the ethanol extract is further refined through distillation after winterization and filtration.
Equipment cost: between $5,000 and millions depending on size, capabilities or automation abilities.
Technical skills: educated in basic chemistry/moderate.
Compounds targeted: all available cannabinoids, resulting extract has low amounts of monoterpenes.

CO2 Extraction

Product: crude extract that requires further refinement such as winterization or filtration
Equipment cost: between $100,000 and millions of USD, depending on size, capabilities or automation
Technical skills: educated to operate liquid CO2 (high pressurized systemsafety)
Compounds targeted: cannabinoids with only low amounts of monoterpenes

Hydrocarbon Extraction

Product: shatter, budder, wax, HTFSE, HCFSE, or crude extract for distillation, or terpenes to be added to distillate
Equipment cost: $5,000 to $100,000 depending on size and capabilities
Technical skills: educated in chemistry and safety (use of flammable fluids, liquid butane)
Compounds targeted: all cannabinoids

Application of Ultrasound Waves for Extraction

When high performance ultrasound is applied to liquid systems (including slurries and viscous pastes) acoustic cavitation is generated. Acoustic cavitation describes the phenomenon of the generation, growth and eventual implosion of the cavitation bubbles. During the propagation of the ultrasound waves, the vacuum bubbles oscillate, grow and collapse at the point, when the bubble cannot absorb more energy. The bubble implosion creates locally extreme conditions of very high temperatures, pressures, heating and cooling rates as well as pressure differentials and liquid jets. The extreme conditions result in thermal, mechanical, and chemical effects. The cell disruption and release of bioactive compounds (= extraction) is a mechanical effect, which is very effective and efficient.

Acoustic or ultrasonic cavitation: bubble growth and implosion

Acoustic cavitation, generated by high-intensity, low-frequency ultrasound, creates intense shear forces and locally occurring high pressure and temperature differentials, which provide the necessary impact for cell disruption, intense mixing and mass transfer. These ultrasonic shear forces are successfully applied for cannabis extraction.

Due to its superior extract output, its high extraction rate, process speed as well as simple and safe operation, ultrasonic extraction is used successfully for the extraction manifold botanical compounds.

Ultrasonic extraction is works by disrupting cell structures and promoting mass transfer. This working principle of ultrasound is used by Hielscher Ultrasonics equipment for highly efficient cannabis extraction.

Powerful ultrasound waves disrupt the cell matrix of biological structures and release the bioactive compounds. Mass transfer between the plant material and the solvent is intensified. Due to these mechanisms, ultrasonic extraction is highly efficient for cannabis extraction.

Prominent examples of ultrasonic extraction are cannabis (cannabinoids and cannabis oil from marijuana and hemp), curcumin, pepper, saffron, coffee, bitter gourd, olive oil, avocado oil, henna, Ayurvedic herbs, ginger, tea, and other medicinal herbs.

Decarboxylation

Decarboxylation is an important step for efficient production of the major bioactive compounds in cannabis, such as Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabigerol (CBG). Decarboxylation, also known as “activating” or “decarbing”, is applied as a pre-treatment to increase THC (delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol) content in the plant material. Chemically decarboxylation is a reaction where a carboxyl group (-COOH) is removed and carbon dioxide (CO2) is released. In order to increase the THC content of the cannabis plant matter, the process step of decarboxylation is applied. By decarboxylation, the quantity of non-psychoactive Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) can be converted into psychoactive THC. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid decarboxylates when heated (to approx. 105°C / 220°F for 30 min. when dry material, up to 90min. for moist plant material) and converts then to the psychoactive compound Δ9-Tetrahydrocannabinol.
In similar way, CBD-A rich cannabis plant material can be decarboxylated by heat treatment and thereby converted into CBD. For winterization of plant material, dried chopped plant matter is heated to approx. 160°C / 320°F for 30-60min. to initiate the decarboxylation.
Decarboxylation Temperatures for Cannabinoids:
CBD: 160°C / 320°F
CBC: 220°C / 428°F
THC: 155°C / 314.6°F
CBN: 185°C / 365°F
THCV: 220°C / 428°F

Downstream ProcessesFiltration and Distillation

After ultrasonic extraction, the cannabis particles must be filtered from the liquid. Therefore, the cannabis slurry is strained through a filter, such as mesh (e.g. filter sock) or using a filter press. The resultant mother liquor of solvent (e.g. ethanol) and cannabis extract is then concentrated by separating the ethanol. Typical distillation methods for the removal of solvents are rotary evaporators or vacuum distillation systems.
A rotary evaporator (colloquially roto-vap) is commonly used to separate solvents such as ethanol from cannabis, thereby producing a refined cannabis oil. Regulated temperature and easy handling make the rotary-evaporator the dominant distillation equipment in the cannabis industry.
Vacuum distillation is used mostly in order to isolate CBD for pharmaceutical and medicinal use, where it is necessary to remove terpenes and or THC. Since terpenes, THC and CBD have high boiling points (between 160-250°C / 310-482°F), under atmospheric conditions a distillation would require high temperature treatment, which comes with thermal degradation of the heat-sensitive cannabinoids. Additionally, exposure to oxygen initiates oxidative reactions, which affects the quality of the cannabinoids negatively. By the application of vacuum, the boiling points are lowered. Furthermore, oxygen is removed with the application of vacuum. Thereby, distillation under vacuum conditions lowers thermal and oxidative degradation of the extracts.

Winterization

Winterization is the process of removing the plant lipids, fats and waxes by an alcohol wash in order to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from unwanted substances, such as plant waxes, fats, and chlorophyll. For the winterization the extracted cannabis oil is placed in ethanol and chilled to temperatures of less to -20°C / -6°F. At these low temperatures, lipids, fats and waxes precipitate and can be removed.

High performance ultrasonics! Hielscher's product range covers the full spectrum from the compact lab ultrasonicator over bench-top units to full-industrial ultrasonic systems.

Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to industrial size.

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