Ultrasonic Decarboxylation of Cannabinoids
Decarboxylated cannabinoids such as CBD, THC and CBG amongst many others are known as the active form, which shows more impactful and successful effects in the human body (i.e. endocannbinoid system). Ultrasonication is a highly effective technique to extract an decarboxylate cannabinoids (e.g., CBDA, THCA, CBGA) into their biologically more active forms (e.g., CBD, THC, CBG).
Decarboxylate Cannabinoids with Sonication
CBD is well known for its health-promoting and medicinal effects. But in both types of the cannabis plant, in hemp and marijuana, mainly cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) is found, whilst cannabidiol (CBD) is only present in small quantities.
What is the difference between CBD and CBDA?
CBDA is the precursor of CBD and has an acidic group attached to the CBD molecule, a so-called carboxyl-group. Both, CBD and CBDA, are non-intoxicating, non-psycho-active substances, which means they do not produce a “high” effect. But the bioactive effects of CBD and CBDA are very different. CBDA is a neutral, significantly less active form, whilst – when decarboxylated to CBD – the CBD molecules enfold their full health-promoting bioactive effects as pharmaceutical and dietary supplement.
The decarboxylation affects all other acidic cannabinoid forms such as THCA, CBGA and others as well. The carboxyl group is removed so that the active forms, e.g., CBD, ∆⁹-THC (THC), CBG etc., are obtained.
Ultrasonic decarboxylation turns the less active form into the more active cannabinoid form by removing the carboxyl group via intense ultrasound waves.
Ultrasonic Cannabinoid Decarboxylation
Decarboxylation (decarbing) is a common step in cannabis processing. In the conventional decarbing process, producers apply dry heat to the fresh plant parts in order to convert CBDA into CBD, ∆9-THC-acid (THCA) into ∆9-THC (THC), CBGA into CBG etc. This is an additional pre-processing step before the extraction and requires time and energy.
Ultrasonic decarboxylation excels conventional decarboxylation by various advantages. First, ultrasonic decarboxylation is not an additional process step, but it occurs simultaneously when cannabinoids are extracted via ultrasonication from hemp or marijuana. Ultrasonic cannabis treatment is the superior method for simultaneous extraction and decarboxylation of phytocannabinoids. The ultrasonic technique excels by high extraction and decarboxylation rates under controlled temperatures and short treatment times. This prevents the phytocannabinnoids against decomposition: In ultrasonically decarboxylated cannabinoid extracts, no cannbinol (CBN) is found. cannabinol is a common oxidation by-product and thereby marker of quality. This means ultrasonic decarbing results in a high-quality cannabis extract.
Furthermore, all ultrasonically obtained extraction and decarboxylation results are fully repeatable and reproducible. As all ultrasonic process parameters are precisely controllable, extraction and decarboxylation results can be reproduced with reliability. This enables producers to standardize their process and to offer their customers cannabis extracts of continuously highest quality.
- Simultaneous extraction and decarboxylation
- Mild, non-thermal process
- Rapid treatment
- No decomposition of cannabinoids
- Repeatability, reproducibility
- Easy and safe to operate
- Available for any volume
- Standarized product quality
How to Decarb Cannabinoids by Sonication
Sonication can transform the acidic cannabinoids such as CBDA, ∆9-THC-acid / TCA, CBGA etc. into the bioactive forms of CBD, ∆9-THC, CBG etc. To obtain a decarboxylation via ultrasonication, the ultrasound treatment is combined with heat treatment. This is known as thermo-sonication. Optimum yields of CBD, ∆9-THC, and CBG are obtained at 110°C.
Cannabinoids and their Effects on the Human Body
The Cannabis Sativa L. plant is rich in more than 113 types of cannabinoids. For instance, CBD, CBDA, THC, THCA, CBG and CBGA amongst others are all cannabinoids (also called phytocannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are also found in the human body, where they function as signalling molecules in the endocrine system. Cannabinoids produced by the human body are known as endocannabinoids. Endocannabinoids act as neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors. The biological system of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors is called endocannabinnoid system and plays an important part in the regulation of bodily functions.
As plant-derived cannabinoids can dock to the human cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoids are administered as medical/medicinal treatment and as health-promoting dietary supplements.
Ultrasonic Extractors for Cannabinoid Decarboxylation
Ultrasonic extraction and decarboxylation is a reliable processing technology, which facilitates and accelerates the production of high-quality cannabinoid extracts from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant (hemp and marijuana). Hielscher Ultrasonics portfolio covers the full range from compact lab ultrasonicators to industrial extraction systems. Thereby, we at Hielscher can offer you the most suitable ultrasonicator for your envisaged process capacity. Our long-time experienced staff will assist you from feasibility tests and process optimisation to the installation of your ultrasonic system on final production level.
The small foot-print of our ultrasonic extractors as well as their versatility in installation options make them fit even into very limited space of cannabis processing facilities. Ultrasonic processors are installed worldwide in food, pharma and nutritional supplement production facilities.
Sophisticated Extraction and Decarboxylation Systems
Hielscher Ultrasonics product portfolio covers the full range of high-performance ultrasonicator for extraction and decarboxylation from small to large scale. Additional accessories allow for the easy assembly of the most suitable ultrasonic device configuration for your cannabis extraction / decarboxylation process. The optimal ultrasonic setup depends on the envisaged capacity, volume, raw material, batch or inline process and timeline.
Batch and Inline
Hielscher ultrasonicators can be used for batch and continuous flow-through processing. Ultrasonic batch processing is ideal for process testing, optimisation and small to mid-size production level. Ultrasonic decarboxylation of acidic phyto-cannabinoids (eg., CBDA, THCA, CBGA) could occur in an open or closed ultrasonic beaker as well as in a continuous treatment using an ultrasonic flow cell reactor.. Hielscher Ultrasonics has the most suitable extraction and decarboxylation setup for your cannabis volume and process goals.
Ultrasonic Extractors for Every Product Capacity
Hielscher Ultrasonics product range covers the full spectrum of ultrasonic processors from compact lab ultrasonicators over bench-top and pilot systems to fully-industrial ultrasonic processors with the capacity to process truckloads per hour. The full product range allows us to offer you the most suitable ultrasonic extractor / decarboxylator for your cannabis raw material, process capacity and production targets.
Ultrasonic benchtop systems are ideal for feasibility tests and process optimization. Linear scale-up based on established process parameters makes it very easy to increase the processing capacities from smaller lots to fully commercial production. Up-scaling can be done by either installing a more powerful ultrasonic extractor unit or clustering several ultrasonicators in parallel. With the UIP16000, Hielscher offers the most powerful ultrasonic extractor worldwide.
Precisely Controllable Amplitudes for Optimum Results
All Hielscher ultrasonicators are precisely controllable and thereby reliable work horses in production. The amplitude is one of the crucial process parameters that influence the efficiency and effectiveness of ultrasonic extraction of Cannabis Sativa L. and the simultaneous decarboxylation of the cannabinoids.
All Hielscher Ultrasonics’ processors allow for the precise setting of the amplitude. Sonotrodes and booster horns are accessories that allow to modify the amplitude in an even wider range. Hielscher’s industrial ultrasonic processors can deliver very high amplitudes and deliver the required ultrasonic intensity for demanding applications. Amplitudes of up to 200µm can be easily continuously run in 24/7 operation.
Precise amplitude settings and the permanent monitoring of the ultrasonic process parameters via smart software give you the possibility to treat your cannabis material with the most effective ultrasonic conditions. Optimal sonication for best extraction and decarboxylation results!
The robustness of Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment allows for 24/7 operation at heavy duty and in demanding environments. This makes Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment a reliable work tool that fulfils your extraction requirements.
Easy, Risk-free Testing
Ultrasonic processes can be completely linear scaled. This means every result that you have achieved using a lab or bench-top ultrasonicator, can be scaled to exactly the same output using the exactly same process parameters. This makes ultrasonication ideal for risk-free feasibility testing, process optimization and subsequent implementation into commercial manufacturing. Contact us to learn how sonication can increase your cannabis extract production.
Highest Quality – Designed and Manufactured in Germany
As a family-owned and family-run business, Hielscher prioritizes highest quality standards for its ultrasonic processors. All ultrasonicators are designed, manufactured and thoroughly tested in our headquarter in Teltow near Berlin, Germany. Robustness and reliability of Hielscher’s ultrasonic equipment make it a work horse in your production. 24/7 operation under full load and in demanding environments is a natural characteristic of Hielscher’s high-performance ultrasonicators.
The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:
|Batch Volume||Flow Rate||Recommended Devices|
|1 to 500mL||10 to 200mL/min||UP100H|
|10 to 2000mL||20 to 400mL/min||UP200Ht, UP400St|
|0.1 to 20L||0.2 to 4L/min||UIP2000hdT|
|10 to 100L||2 to 10L/min||UIP4000hdT|
|n.a.||10 to 100L/min||UIP16000|
|n.a.||larger||cluster of UIP16000|
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Literature / References
- Mei Wang, Yan-Hong Wang, Bharathi Avula, Mohamed M. Radwan, Amira S. Wanas, John van Antwerp, Jon F. Parcher, Mahmoud A. ElSohly, Ikhlas A. Khan (2016): Decarboxylation Study of Acidic Cannabinoids: A Novel Approach Using Ultra-High-Performance Supercritical Fluid Chromatography/Photodiode Array-Mass Spectrometry. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 2016; 1(1): 262–271.
Facts Worth Knowing
Why Decarboxylate Cannabinoids?
Decarboxylation is a chemical process during which a chemical chain known as carboxyl group is removed from a molecule. In the cannabis plant, the majority of cannabinoids are present in their acidic form such as CBDA, THCA, CBGA etc. The acidic forms have a carboxyl group attached and are know as less active form. Those acidic forms are the precursors to the more active cannabinoid forms (e.g. CBD, ∆⁹-THC, CBG etc.). For pharmaceuticals, medicinal and health supplements, the decarboxylated, more active form of cannabinoids is for obvious reasons preferred.
Therefore, the acidic carboxyl group is removed from the cannabinoids in a process called “decarboxylation”.
For instance, cannabis can be decarboxylated (colloquially also “decarbed”) by applying dry heat. Decarboxylation also occurs when cannabis is left to cure. During the curing, the carboxyl chain slowly breaks down, which is a quite time-consuming process. When this happens, CBDA and other acidic cannabinoids lose their acidity. thereby becoming more active. Decarboxylation can be accelerated by other processes, like thermo-sonication.
How much Cannabinoids are in my Cannabis Extract?
The concentration of cannabinoids in an extract depends heavily on the type of plant (cannabis strain), the extraction method and whether or not the plant has been decarboxylated.