Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is legalized federally and continuing to expand in reputation. Final year, the United States saw practically 80,000 acres of licensed industrial hemp grown in 23 states (a lot more than tripled from the year prior), and more than three,500 state licenses issued. The numbers are not out for 2019 just but, but hemp’s higher development price in the marketplace is predicted to continue accelerating. 

At Root Engineers, we specialize in the engineering and style of cannabis cultivation and processing facilities across the nation. In the previous year, we’ve undoubtedly observed an raise in the quantity of hemp extraction facility style projects our group has undertaken. CBD and other hemp extracts are exploding when it comes to customer reputation, and a lot more and a lot more players are joining the hemp extraction game. In this 3 element series, we’ll outline the actions to receiving began in hemp extraction, beginning with Step 1: picking a processing strategy.

When designing cultivation facilities or other enterprise sorts, the style approach normally begins with initial picking a home, then picking a developing, and then designing the gear and systems to outfit the developing. When it comes to hemp extraction, we basically advise the opposite: start out with picking your processing strategy, then style your facility and systems, and ultimately select a home that will operate for the developing you have created. 

Hemp extraction normally requires the use of hazardous supplies, which can influence a quantity of developing and home codes and regulations. In addition, the size and quantity of hazardous supplies can make a large distinction in facility style and considerations, such as exactly where supplies will be positioned. If you select your developing and/or home prior to you have defined which extraction strategy you will be utilizing, you may possibly come across your self in a position exactly where the developing and/or home you have bought will not basically operate for your facility – which is a big setback for each your schedule and your price range. Hence, we start with extraction strategy considerations. 

Strategies of Extraction

Each and every detail of your hemp extraction facility style will rely considerably on the strategy you select to use for extraction. There are 3 primary techniques of processing hemp that we see most generally: ethanol extraction, COtwo extraction, and the much less frequent hydrocarbon extraction. (Note: whilst we have observed and continue to see a lot of compact scale cannabis corporations picking hydrocarbon facilities to extract THC, we are seeing much less of it in the hemp arena and will concentrate on ethanol and COtwo extraction techniques under). 

Ethanol extraction requires utilizing alcohol to draw out cannabinoids like CBD and other helpful compounds in the hemp plant. Ethanol is a higher-proof grain-primarily based alcohol that is utilised as a solvent, permitting minimal harm to the plant whilst extracting essential compounds. Ethanol extraction is normally a faster and much less power-intensive approach when compared to utilizing COtwo, and the essential gear is frequently much less high priced and conveniently scalable. Having said that, when alcohol is combined with heat or the danger of spark, there is an particularly higher flammability danger, which leads to elevated considerations in each gear choice and facility style. Electrical systems and ventilation each want to be created with flammable gases in thoughts.

COtwo extraction utilizes COtwo, or carbon dioxide, as the solvent to extract compounds from the plant. COtwo is occasionally regarded a cleaner or purer kind of extraction since there is no solvent residue left more than just after processing. In terms of hazardous considerations, COtwo is nonflammable which leads to fewer facility security specifications and expenses, but it is an asphyxiant so does demand alarms and exhaust fans in the occasion of a COtwo leak. Simply because of the complicated gear needed for COtwo extraction, upfront expenses have a tendency to be larger, and hence we generally see bigger, larger throughput facilities lean toward ethanol in lieu of COtwo.

Inquiries to Look at When Picking Your Extraction Gear

  • What sort of throughput are you hunting for? In our practical experience, massive throughput hemp processing facilities are leaning toward ethanol extraction gear, whilst smaller sized facilities may possibly lean toward COtwo. Ethanol gear scales conveniently and is much less high priced to buy and operate. Having said that, as talked about above, there are flammability issues to look at that you will not want to be concerned about if you are using COtwo extraction gear. (We will dig into this a lot more in the subsequent write-up in this series.) 
  • What is your gear price range and all round building price range? These two concerns go hand-in-hand and have a tendency to be inversely proportional. As we indicated, the price of the ethanol extraction gear can be attractive in the brief-run, but your all round create-out price will have a tendency to raise with an ethanol approach since of the added measures you will have to take surrounding flammability issues. Speak with gear suppliers to identify what kind of gear you can afford. Also involve your style group (architects and engineers) at this point so that they can inform you of some of the complications you may possibly run into down the line with every single approach decision. This will assistance you program ahead, saving time and dollars. 
  • Can your extraction gear supplier deliver a UL-listed extraction program, or a program with third celebration peer assessment meeting the specifications of NFPA 1, Chapter 38? This is an situation our customers run into generally. Several extraction systems are not UL-listed (or other equivalent NRTL certified) and if they are not, the authority obtaining jurisdiction (or the AHJ, i.e. the developing division) will demand the program to be peer reviewed, per NFPA 1, Chapter 38 specifications. Once more, these systems are generally inversely proportional: the non-listed, non-peer reviewed program will most likely price much less dollars, but you will want to devote time on the backend acquiring a certified individual to peer assessment the program to make certain it is secure. We encourage our customers to ask informed concerns of the gear supplier such as: Is the program UL listed (or other NTRL from supply cited above)? Beware that oftentimes they will answer “yes, all of our components are UL listed.” This is not the very same as the complete program getting listed. If the components are listed but the program is not, ask if the bought gear will come with the essential peer-reviewed report to appease the AHJ per NFPA 1, Chapter 38. Furthermore, the Engineer of Record who supplied the peer assessment will want to come out to the internet site to assessment the installation, so they can certify that it was installed in accordance with the peer assessment they supplied. If the supplier answers no, then you will want to come across a certified peer reviewer, which can price considerable dollars and time, so you will want to aspect this information and facts into your choice with regards to which extraction program to buy. 
  • Can the extraction gear supplier deliver a voltage and hertz that is readily available in the nation in which the gear will be installed? About 1-third of our projects involve gear manufactured overseas in a voltage that is not readily available in the United States, so a transformer is needed to be installed, adding price and complication to your project. 
  • What is my timeline, is it realistic or does it want to be adjusted primarily based on gear or building timelines? As soon as you determine on your preferred gear supplier and program, you will want to take a fresh appear at your timelines. Also involve your style group and contractor in this discussion as they’ll most likely have a pulse on realistic permitting and building timelines.

Genuine Planet Case Study

Oftentimes, our group is brought into a project exactly where the processing strategy has been selected and the extraction gear has currently been bought. Sadly, quite a few instances the owner was not conscious of the NFPA specifications for peer assessment, which at this stage can bring about big setbacks in each time and dollars. 

We had 1 distinct project we have been brought into exactly where the client had bought an extraction program from an overseas provider. The program was not peer reviewed, the gear was not UL-listed and the needed voltage for the gear was not readily available at the selected internet site. The client spent a shocking quantity of time and dollars attempting to get this program to operate for their operation, eventually obtaining to backtrack. In a conversation at the conclusion of the project, the client admitted that had they gone with the larger price manufacturer they regarded in the starting, they would have saved dollars and time, eventually considerably impacting their bottom line. 

Final Thoughts

Designing a hemp extraction facility is a complicated approach with quite a few considerations to retain in thoughts. Understanding the right order of the style and create approach, along with developing a reputable group and involving them at all critical points, will be essential to the accomplishment of your operation.

Remain tuned for Portion Two in this series, exactly where we’ll talk about Step Two: Decide on Facility.

Disclaimer: We are not gear producers, we are engineers. As such, we do not claim to be authorities in all elements of extraction gear. We are a group of knowledgeable skilled engineers specializing in engineering and program style for cannabis processing facilities. The objective of this write-up is to highlight the essential considerations and complications we have come across in our practical experience finishing more than 100 cannabis facility style projects, to permit processors to make a a lot more informed choice when picking an extraction strategy.