Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of this equipment?
Extraction can only go so far in purifying of cannabinoids such as THC and CDB. So a different technique is needed for increasing purity. A thermal separation technique works at this point because cannabinoids have a different boiling point range than other materials in the extraction mixture. Molecular (short-path) distillation is one option for thermal separation method for this heat-sensitive material.
Is molecular distillation similar to extraction?
No, they are quite different operations. With extraction, solids, (or sometimes liquids) are brought into contacted with a solvent. In cannabinoid work, the solvent is typically ethanol, or butane/propane, or supercritical pressurized CO2, or others. Certain compounds such as cannabinoids, terpenes, chlorophyll are dissolved into the solvent, after which the solvent is evaporated away. The separation is accomplished via an affinity of the target compounds to be transferredby dissolution into the solvent. With distillation, the separation is carried out not by solvent affinity, but by differences in the volatility (boiling points), between the various compounds. More volatile materials are more easily distilled and condensed as distillate while the heavier materials remain as liquid collected as residue. Distillation is performed after extraction to further concentrate and purifythe desired compounds.
What level of purity is expected with the Wiped Film Evaporator Unit?
It depends on the quality and composition of the feed material, factors going back to the original plant strains plus all subsequent handling and processing prior to distillation. Often, extracted material prior to distillation is in a range of 55-70% cannabinoid, and it is typical to distill this up to a range from 85-90+%, with up to 96% being reported. In addition to increased percentage purity, the product is significantly lighter yellow in color, with high clarity
Does molecular distillation require addition of solvents?
No, additional solvents or other compounds do not need to be added to the feed material. This question often arises because potential users know that concentrate from extraction can be quite thick and viscous. But rather than using "thinning agents" such as solvents, the high viscosity or melting point of cannabinoids is handled by keeping materials warm enough to flow throughout the entire set of distillation components. Equipment needed for these heating functions is provided in the Wiped Film Evaporator Unit configured for cannabinoid applications.
How is the distillation carried out?
There are normally two (or more) passes made through Wiped Film Evaporator Unit. The first is to remove whatever amount of remaining air, gas, water, solvents and lighter end terpenes remain in the extract. The second, carried out at greater vacuum and temperature, is normally for distillation of the cannabinoids away from the heavier residue including chlorophyll, heavier waxes, sugars, salts, pesticides, dark colored components and other undesired matter.There are also additional distillation strategies which Advanced Synthesis can provide.
Is extreme vacuum level and capacity required?
No, in fact, very high vacuum level in the evaporator body is not even attainable because of the vapor pressure/temperature properties of cannabinoids. At the typical body temperature range of 130 - 180°C, the vacuum range observed is normally roughly around 0.1 to 0.3 torr, no matter what kind of vacuum pump is utilized.
Does the operator need to be highly educated and experienced to operate the Wiped Film Evaporator Unit?
Not necessarily, but this is not a "set it and forget it" operation such as in the case of a rotary evaporator or other simple batch device. Being that this is normally the final processing step prior to packaging, that the feed material can have varying composition and quality, that the final product specification goals of various batches may vary depending on management, marketing and retailer preferences, and that the Wiped Film Evaporator Unit operation can be adjusted to accommodate these variations, there is some thought that goes into proper operation. With good analytical information on the distillation feed material, well laid out product goals, and an operator who is interested and strives to learn and to accomplish these goals, there will be much greater success than where some of these factors are missing.
Does this equipment work well for distillation after different types of extraction methods and other processing steps?
Yes. Whether the extraction method used is butane/propane, supercritical CO2, ethanol or other means, distillation with the Wiped Film Evaporator Unit will perform excellently and will significantly increase product purity. And whether or not the material has been winterized, (dewaxed), or whether or not it has been decarboxylated, the distillation will likewise provide excellent results. Of course the final product purity, yield and appearance is also affected by initial plant strain and quality, the type and quality of the extraction process and the subsequent steps carried out prior to distillation. There are some rule of thumbs as well, for example, material that has been winterized will result in distilled product that is more optically clear and of greater purity than non-winterized material.
Why wipers instead of rollers?
Wiped Film Evaporator Unit wipers are designed to provide optimized thin film turbulence and to not only propel the material in a circular path around the inner cylindrical heater surface, but also downwards, resulting in shorter and controllable residence time. Rollers utilized by other manufacturers rely on gravity for the downward motion.
How is training and installation handled?
Personal training and demonstration (with non-cannabinoid materials)can be performed at your facility. You receive full attention, without the presence of any potential competitors. Nearly all users have found that after this training and demonstration, they are able to set up and start operating the equipment themselves, making good quality product thesame or next day after receiving the still, with no difficulty. Of course we are always here for questions via phone or email. Special trips to client's facilities can be quoted.
Is it difficult to Ship units from your facility?
NO. We have our own broker and are very familiar with expertly packing and shipping equipment to any location in the united states.