When Outfitting Your Lab, Choose CO2. Here’s Why:

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THE DIFFERENCES IN CANNABIS EXTRACTION TECHNOLOGIES

The cannabis industry today is comprised of three main extraction technologies; carbon dioxide (CO2), ethanol and hydrocarbons. Although these extraction methods are different, they all try to achieve the same objective of extracting valuable compounds from cannabis plant material. The main compounds targeted by these extraction systems are cannabinoids and terpenes, but each extraction method has its own respective advantages and disadvantages when extracting these compounds. Not only are the differences solely in how the compounds are extracted, but also extend to extraction safety, environmental impacts and costs. Having an understanding of these extraction methods is important when determining what cannabis extraction method to use. The characteristics that would be important for someone looking to purchase cannabis extraction equipment are discussed below for the three extraction methods mentioned.

CO2

CO2 in its liquid form can be used as an extraction solvent if its temperature and pressure are within the liquid phase range, or as a supercritical fluid if its temperature and pressure are above both 87.98 F and 1071 psi. It is an outstanding solvent for volatile compounds such as terpenes and, as a supercritical fluid, is good for cannabinoid extraction. The final separation of the solvent from the extract is achieved by a density drop that allows CO2 to evaporate from liquid or supercritical fluid to gas. The liquid cannabis oil that is left behind is free of any residual solvents.

Table 1: CO2 extraction system characteristics

Criteria CO2
Scalability Low to high
Infrastructure Required No significant infrastructure required
System Cost Medium to high
Product Options High; tuneability and terpene preservation allows for diverse product offering
Extraction Run Times Medium - long
Energy Usage Low to medium
Solvent Cost Very low
Tuneability Yes
Terpene Preservation Yes
Post Processing Winterization may or may not be required, depending on feedstock input and desired product formulation
Residual solvent in crude extract No residual solvent in extract
Pre-cool solvent No
Feedstock waste No residual solvent, general waste
Solvent Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Yes
Safety High pressure
Solvent disposal Vent to atmosphere

The tuneability of CO2 and its ability to switch between a liquid and a supercritical fluid is a tremendous advantage for this process, and allows for a more diverse range of product offerings. Depending on the chosen parameters, extraction of undesirable compounds such as chlorophyll and lipids can be reduced, or a terpene pull can be completed using a subcritical run. As CO2 can extract at lower temperatures and pressures, subcritical parameters are good for targeting low molecular weight terpenes while leaving other components behind. Typically, with CO2 extraction, a post-processing step of winterization is required to remove undesirable compounds.

Another major advantage of using a CO2 extraction system is the relatively small infrastructure requirements. Unlike ethanol or hydrocarbon extractions that require a Class 1 Division 1 or 2 space, no specialized infrastructure is needed. This represents significant cost savings up front and helps mitigate the expense of the equipment.

CO2 extraction is the leader in safety in terms of residual solvent toxicity as well as environmental impacts relating to solvent disposal. Most extractors will reuse the CO2 or simply vent it to the atmosphere, saving on costly hazardous waste solvent disposal. CO2 is relatively inexpensive to restock, so even when levels need to be topped up, the costs are minimal. This is yet another area in which CO2 proves its affordability in the long run. With the savings on infrastructure, and the long-term costs of maintaining solvent stock, CO2 ends up being a more cost-effective process than the alternatives.

Ethanol

Ethanol extraction is best performed at temperatures below -40 °C, where the co-extraction of undesirables is minimized. However, cooling ethanol to these temperatures can require significant amounts of energy and time. Ethanol is a polar molecular, and this can create issues as it will readily mix with water and dissolve water soluble molecules such as chlorophyll. However, at temperatures below 40 °C this phenomenon is limited. During the extraction process, ethanol is passed over the cannabis material to dissolve the active compounds in the plant.

Table 2: Ethanol extraction systems characteristics

Criteria Ethanol
Scalability Low to medium
Infrastructure Required C1D2 or C1D1 space
System Cost Low to medium
Product Options Low to medium; poor terpene solubility means smaller product offering
Extraction Run Times Short to long, depending on solvent cooling duration
Energy Usage Low to high, depending on solvent cooling
Solvent Cost Medium to high
Tuneability No
Terpene Preservation No
Post Processing Winterization may or may not be required, depending on solvent cooling
Residual solvent in crude extract Solvent recovery required
Pre-cool solvent Below -40°C to minimize co-extraction of undesirables
Feedstock waste Residual solvent, hazardous waste
Solvent Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Yes
Safety Flammable
Solvent disposal Hazardous waste

A major advantage of ethanol extraction systems is that they have a low cost of entry. However, due to ethanol’s flammability, infrastructure to support such an extraction system is more costly due to the requirements for hazardous locations (C1D1 or C1D2 – which means there is an ignitable concentration of flammable gas or vapour that has to be contained).

Terpenes have low solubility in ethanol which results in an oil that can lack flavour and aroma, and a reduced product offering for the extract. What ethanol excels at is cannabinoid extraction and it tends to have shorter extraction run times which is highly beneficial for throughput. The tuneability of the ethanol extraction method is very low and is primarily used to target cannabinoids. Ethanol, like CO2, is also generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for consumption by the FDA. But an important consideration is solvent recovery as residual solvent in the product could harm end users. Furthermore, ethanol waste is classified as hazardous, which in turn requires special handling and disposal.

Butane

Hydrocarbon extraction equipment typically uses butane, propane, or hexane as the extraction solvent (although most commonly butane). Cold butane is washed over the cannabis material, which slowly dissolves the cannabinoids and terpenes. As it is non-polar, it binds to the more fat-soluble components of the plant (cannabinoids, terpenes and lipids) and less so to chlorophyll and other plant metabolites. As it has a low boiling point (-0.5°C/31.3°F), very few temperature sensitive terpenes are lost when boiling off the residual solvent from the concentrate solution.

Table 3: Hydrocarbon extraction systems characteristics

Criteria Hydrocarbon
Scalability Low to medium
Infrastructure Required C1D1 space
System Cost Low to medium
Product Options Medium to high; terpene preservation and cold processing allows for diverse product offering
Extraction Run Times Medium
Energy Usage Low
Solvent Cost Low to medium
Tuneability No
Terpene Preservation Yes
Post Processing Winterization may or may not be required and desired product
Residual solvent in crude extract Solvent recovery required
Pre-cool solvent No
Feedstock waste Residual solvent, hazardous waste
Solvent Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) Yes (for butane)
Safety Pressurized and explosive
Solvent disposal Hazardous waste

Butane extraction is excellent for the extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes under the same conditions, and when done properly can produce a terpene-rich end product that closely resembles the starting plant material. This process tends to produce great tasting concentrates like shadder, budder, sauce and more.

However, butane and other hydrocarbons are highly flammable and volatile, which means there are strict regulations that surround butane extraction systems. Again, like ethanol extraction, a hazardous location space is required, and a solvent recovery step is needed following extraction. The spent butane is also classed as hazardous waste and appropriate environmental disposal is required.

While ethanol and butane extraction systems have their place in cannabis extraction, CO2 has proven itself to be one of the most adaptive and safe cannabis extraction methods. The CO2 extraction process is well known for its low up-front infrastructure cost, safe solvent use, scalability, and tunability. These factors, along with its long-term environmental sustainability, make CO2 an excellent choice for cannabis extraction.

Buying Tips: Not All Machines Are Created Equal

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SAVE TIME, EFFORT AND STRESS WITH THESE CONSIDERATIONS

When looking at extraction equipment, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. Price, reliability, safety and performance are top criteria that come readily to mind. For any business owner, procurement manager or buyer, the key goal is to ensure that they get a good deal on a system that will meet the company needs. To ensure a positive experience, and an efficient decision-making process, Careful consideration of the following factors will help keep your extraction system evaluation(s) on track for a successful purchase..

KNOW YOUR END GOAL

When you're looking for CO2 extraction equipment, the first thought should be to your end goals. What do you want to produce? Different market products call for different pathways to production, including with regards to equipment requirements. For example, will you need to perform extractions in both subcritical and supercritical states in order to extract the target compounds for your products? Will you need to pull every ounce of recoverable material out of the biomass or will your profit curve require you to end an extraction run early? Will your system need to have precise control over the extraction parameters or are you comfortable spending more time on post-processing? Understanding the end product you want to produce will allow you to trace back through the process, identify the appropriate extraction equipment, and make informed decisions based on profit margins, resource requirements, and time.

BE CLEAR ON CAPACITY NEEDS

If your extraction plans require you to process thousands of pounds of biomass a week, you'll need to look at systems that have the capacity to meet those requirements. Small-volume systems, or systems requiring longer run times can make it hard to reach large volume goals. Understanding the volume of feedstock you'll be working with is a huge factor in making a smart decision on extraction equipment. It can also help you identify other revenue opportunities. For example, if your volume needs are small, perhaps it makes business sense to do toll-processing, making a profit by processing another supplier’s biomass.

AVOID OUTRAGEOUS CLAIMS

A savvy shopper knows the importance of investing time in understanding a process or product before making a purchase. Marketing strategies in the extraction environment are often flooded with outrageous claims. It is important to understand the science underlying the process of extraction and that, regardless of equipment type or manufacturer, no piece of machinery can operate outside of physical laws. Time spent studying the fundamental principles of how temperature, pressure, time and flowrate factor into extraction will pay dividends in vetting sensational schemes and decoding fine print.

YIELDS VS RECOVERY VS EFFICIENCY

Yields is an entire topic on its own and comes up quite frequently in conversation about extraction equipment. Most often, it is used as a simple measure for buyers to evaluate the efficiency of a system. However, using yields as a measure of extraction efficiency is akin to using horsepower to evaluate the speed of a vehicle - a semi-truck can have excessive horsepower, but that doesn't necessarily mean it will go fast. Bulk yield is a measure of the total mass of material that results from an extraction, but it doesn't provide a clear picture of the amount of valuable material recovered. Understanding recovery percentage and knowing the chemical composition of the biomass can help eliminate confusion on the topic of yields and prevent decision-making based on erroneous criteria (for a better understanding of Yields, read this article).

LICENSING & FACILITY

Licensing and regulations can vary dramatically between nation, state, city and even county lines . The products that can be processed, the size and engineering requirements of the facilities, and the type and amount of chemicals allowed on-site are all major factors to consider before going too far on your extraction system purchase. But more than just the regulatory landscape, the simplest reason to consider your facility and lab setup before buying equipment is to ensure that you'll be able to get it into the room. It's rather difficult (impossible) to move a five-foot-wide piece of equipment down a four-foot-wide hallway, and putting a ten-foot-tall system in an eight-foot-tall room can be a daunting (also impossible) task. Knowing your building dimensions and size requirements can save from excessive retrofitting costs down the line.

SCALING & COSTS

Having clarity on desired growth, sustainability, and a solid plan in place are also key factors to consider when choosing extraction equipment. While these are certainly true of any business venture, they should be included within this decision-making process. If your goal is to scale and grow, purchasing equipment that can do the same is a smart idea. By the same token, obtaining a system that will require multiple installations in order to scale can be costly and negatively impact your overall efficiency.

As well as examining your growth potential, understanding the difference between capital expenditures (CapEx) and operating expenditures (OpEx) is important when looking at long term strategies. In some cases, higher CapEx can lead to much lower OpEx in the long run, creating a positive ROI in a shorter amount of time. Without thoroughly examining the options, it can be easy to go with a lower upfront cost despite the fact that it can be detrimental to growth in the long run. Being clear on your finances and estimated return from the start, you can save yourself from stress and unnecessary expenditures in the future.

Often in the buying process, it's easy t get blinded by low-cost options and empty promises. Negotiations over cost and delivery have become a natural part of the process. Of course, there are many more factors to consider when making a significant purchase, as is the case when evaluating CO2 extraction equipment. By keeping the above tips in mind, you will be better prepared to make a sensible decision that can set the stage for your company's future success.

If you're looking at making an investment in CO2 extraction equipment and are unsure where to start, these tips are a great spot. For further help and assistance, reach out to our Business Development team to get the conversation started. They'll help identify an equipment solution to perfectly fit your short-term and long-term goals.

GMP Overview Part 2: To GMP or not to GMP

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To GMP or not to GMP

Within the cannabis industry, there are some clear advantages to being GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified. Further, having a good understanding of these GMP regulations is highly beneficial when it comes to bringing cannabis products to market. Whether a company embraces GMP or not will be determined by many factors, including the products the business wishes to produce, what jurisdictions those products will be sold in, and cost. To better understand the implications of GMP certification one must carefully assess the advantages and disadvantages.

Although GMP can be a complex and time-consuming process, some distinct advantages that GMP certification can offer are;

  1. Increased product credibility and consumer assurance that a product has been manufactured to the highest quality standards;
  2. A competitive advantage in the marketplace over non-GMP certified products;
  3. Decreased time and cost barriers for companies searching for certified contract processors;
  4. Reduced costs and increased efficiencies associated with rework and penalties due to non-compliance;
  5. Increased confidence of a manufacturer’s management team in the preparedness of manufacturing facilities for inspection and confirmation of the maturity of their quality program.

Even with the benefits GMP certification can bring to a business, it is imperative to understand certification and compliance requires significant investments of time, money, and personnel. These factors can be substantial hurdles in obtaining certification, particularly for smaller businesses.

GMP & Jurisdictional Authority

Notwithstanding the advantages listed, whether a company decides to pursue GMP certification comes down to the market in which they want to sell their products. If a medical cannabis supplier or manufacturer has decided to become GMP certified, then they must meet GMP regulations for the jurisdiction(s) in which they wish to sell their product.

For example, an American pharmaceutical manufacturer wanting to sell their products in the USA and the EU must be GMP certified in both those jurisdictions. Although authorities in different regions – including Canada, the USA, and the EU – have historically developed and enforced their own GMP regulations, there has been momentum in the last few decades to harmonise these guidelines. This typically happens through Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) and the establishment of organizations like the International Conference on Harmonisation (ICH).

An MRA, as it relates to GMP, is an international agreement aiming to deliver greater market access and coordination of regulations while maintaining consumer safety. These agreements allow authorities in two different jurisdictions to rely on one another’s GMP inspections, share audit information and quality defects, and reduce or eliminate the testing of products upon import into their regions of authority.

The Markets and EU GMP

The EU is unique with its current regulatory framework for cannabis. Currently, no member states permit legal recreational markets, though a handful have passed legislation to allow access to medicinal products. Jurisdictions that have introduced some form of medical cannabis regimes – including Germany, Denmark, and Malta – have called for all products to be cultivated and processed in accordance with EU GMP standards. As these guidelines have already been established for pharmaceutical products, most countries pursuing medical cannabis laws are also accepting them. More demanding than any other cannabis manufacturing regulations in the world, the EU has set the tone for where the market is heading in the future.

Despite the European Parliament passing a resolution in February 2019 calling on the European Commission (EC) to harmonize cannabis regulations across the EU, there is no central regulation or guidance on cannabis products in the region. This means that businesses wishing to sell or produce cannabis products in the EU must do so in a member state that permits such activities. However, based on the number of EU member states that have already implemented medical cannabis programs, it is likely the EC will provide region-wide direction on medical cannabis in the near future.

Since the EU has such huge market potential, with some estimates suggesting that by 2028 the medical cannabis market could be worth CAD$185 billion, cannabis cultivators and processors around the world are moving towards EU GMP certification in order to gain access. The EU has MRAs with many other countries in the world including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. If cannabis cultivators and processors gain EU GMP certification then they can potentially leverage the MRAs to gain access to these other markets. It is very important to note that medical cannabis is not currently included in the scope of these MRAs, but this may change in the future as more countries adopt medical cannabis programs and look to import and export these cannabis products. Furthermore, the USA has yet to fully harmonize or share in these MRAs with the EU for drug products.

The implementation of GMP is becoming crucial within the cannabis industry to align international market participants to known standards and regulations for medical products, all for the safety of the end consumer. This will allow much greater market access for any business involved in medical cannabis, from suppliers to manufacturers. Still, it is important to note that as GMP certification covers all aspects of production – from starting materials and premises, to the equipment being used and the training and hygiene of staff employed there – it is beyond the scope of many smaller businesses. However, it does appear that GMP certification will become the norm for medical cannabis products, and (as mentioned in Part 1) lack of compliance could become a reason for restricted access to some markets and/or loss of sales. The last part of this series on GMP will cover how to get ready for GMP certification and go into further detail on how to achieve certification and what it covers.

For a full introduction to GMP, feel free to view our recent GMP Webinar: Part 1 presentation here. And if you haven't already, sign up for our monthly newsletter to stay in touch and up to date with all of our ongoing extraction education.

GMP Overview Part 1: What is GMP?

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In an effort to ensure medical cannabis products are safe for consumers, many countries around the world are adopting Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP). GMP certification ensures creation of safe and effective medical cannabis products that are held to the highest manufacturing standards, much like traditional pharmaceutical products. As countries move to regulate medical cannabis products under the GMP umbrella, cannabis producers, manufacturers, and suppliers are having to understand and implement GMP in their businesses.

This article is the first part of a three-part series looking at what GMP is and its importance, the costs and benefits of GMP compliance, and the areas of the GMP process an equipment vendor can play a central role in.

With GMP becoming more significant in the cannabis industry, what is GMP?

GMP is a series of regulations that are enforceable by law, used to ensure products are consistently created in such a way as to meet rigorous quality standards. Typically, the agencies responsible for issuing GMP regulations are also responsible for enforcement. These regulations provide minimum requirements that a manufacturer must observe to ensure all products are safe, fit for the intended purpose, of high quality, and of consistent formulation or construction.

The regulations cover product categories including pharmaceuticals, food and beverages, dietary supplements and medical devices. GMP also covers all aspects of production from the raw materials, facilities, and equipment to the training and even personal hygiene of staff. This reinforces the primary goal of GMP: to prevent harm to end users of a product.

GMP regulations are not rigid instructions on how to manufacture products and structure processes. Such strict regulations would not only be impractical to translate across numerous industries, but it would also remove the motivation for manufacturers to innovate and adopt new technologies and methodologies. Instead, the requirements were established to be flexible, allowing manufacturers to determine the best way to implement scientifically sound design, processing systems, and testing procedures.

This flexibility allows adoption of the most up-to-date technology and methods, as well as letting companies decide the best way to implement the controls necessary to achieve the highest quality within their organizations. When manufacturing processes and quality systems are set up by a manufacturer, there may be many ways in which they can fulfill GMP requirements. The responsibility is on the manufacturer to determine the most effective and efficient quality process that meets both business and regulatory needs.

Is GMP always the same everywhere?

GMP guidelines and interpretations differ between both countries and regions, and even over time. Due to this consistent change, the most recent iterations are often referred to as Current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP). This system ensures that manufacturers use the most current systems and technology, as cutting-edge practices of 20 years ago may no longer be acceptable by current standards.

Why is GMP important?

First and foremost, GMP is for consumer safety. A consumer of medical cannabis products needs to trust the efficacy and quality of the products they are prescribed. Having checks and balances through GMP regulations gives manufacturers the ability to pick up on quality defects early and ensure unsafe products are not released to the public. There have been many documented cases where quality processes were not followed, and defective products were released. This highlights the importance of GMP regulations and the critical role they play in consumer safety.

For the businesses involved directly with medical cannabis, there are some distinct advantages of adopting GMP. Many authorities around the world, including the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and the European Union (EU), require the application of GMP in the production of drugs, food, and cosmetics that will be sold in their respective markets. GMP certification will allow access to more markets. While GMP is not enforced in every country where cannabis cultivation is legal, it appears that GMP will become the norm for medical cannabis products and potentially for recreational products in the future. Thus, although GMP enforcement may not be required, lack of compliance could become a reason for restricted access to some markets and/or loss of sales.

Want to know more?

Register today for our GMP Webinar

June 18, 2019 11AM Pacific / 2PM Eastern

ICBC Berlin Cannabis Extracts Panel

ICBC Berlin Cannabis Extracts Panel featuring Vitalis Co-Founder and COO, Pete Patterson

Vitalis Extraction Technology COO and Co-Founder, Pete Patterson was among a group of panelists speaking at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) Cannabis Extracts panel in Berlin last month.

Along with panelists Mike Palumbo of Lab Society, Dave LaRussa of Apeks Supercritical, Zach Peyser of Sho Product’s, and moderator and freelance journalist, Michael Knodt, they discussed present extraction products and technology and where the industry is headed in terms of industry standardization and compliance.

In a young, burgeoning market, there are a number of concerns involving standardization of products, and the regulations surrounding them. Expertise from North American companies can be invaluable in Europe, as the region starts to tackle industry questions of legislation, medicinal vs recreational and distribution.

As much of the knowledge base in Europe tends to be held privately, events like ICBC help promote discussion and idea sharing to a wider audience. As a global leader in the extraction space, Vitalis was proud to send Pete to speak on this panel, further demonstrating the company's commitment to knowledge sharing and thought leadership.

For more information on the International Cannabis Business Conference, locations and event dates, visit: https://internationalcbc.com/

Press Release – October 2, 2018

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Canada’s First ASME Certified Extraction Equipment Manufacturer

Vitalis Extraction Technology Raises Bar, Sets New Standard in Growing Cannabis Industry

KELOWNA, BRITISH COLUMBIA,CANADA , October 2, 2018
Vitalis Extraction Technology, the largest supercritical CO2 extraction equipment manufacturer serving the international cannabis industry, today claimed the title as Canada’s first and only American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) BPV certified extraction original equipment manufacturer (OEM) in the cannabis industry. The announcement comes on the heels of the company’s rapid expansion that doubled its production capacity.

While all Vitalis Extraction Technology equipment has always been designed, fabricated, and tested and certified in accordance with the latest ASME and CSA codes, the recent ASME certification now allows Vitalis to manufacture its own certified pressure vessels in-house, owning the process from start to finish.

“Becoming ASME certified to manufacture fully-certified vessels in house was a huge undertaking and an even bigger accomplishment,” said Pete Patterson, COO and co-founder of Vitalis Extraction Technology. “ASME completed an extensive audit of our fabrication facility and processes and found our methods and procedures to be excellent. Being able to produce certified vessels in house is unprecedented in our nation’s industry. Reaching this goal was a true team effort that involved everyone from our founders to engineers and fabricators who all knew what it would take to keep us ahead in this competitive and growing market.”

Founded in 2016, Vitalis Extraction Technology produces the most sophisticated high-flowing, industrial-scale, supercritical CO2 extraction systems for the cannabis industry. Renowned for their reliability, scalability, and continuous operation, all Vitalis systems are designed and manufactured in accordance with ASME and CSA Standards for Boiler, Pressure Vessel and Pressure Piping Construction. Each vessel is stamped with a CRN and NB registration number confirming that the vessels meet both US and Canadian code requirements.

“Simply being ‘designed-to-code’ isn’t enough when you’re handling a high-pressure system,” said Joel Sherlock, chairman and co-founder of Vitalis Extraction Technology. “Extraction systems are a required component in cannabis oil production. With something so imperative yet potentially dangerous, safety is critical. Owning this process allows us to continue to build certified, ‘future-proof’ machines, designed to expand for increased output and volume as a customer’s demands increase.”

With full legalization on the horizon, tightened regulations are inevitable. Vitalis' ASME certificate affirms that each system is built in accordance with the latest regulatory codes, eliminating downstream problems for customers by helping to ensure compliance with their local jurisdictional requirements for installation and operation. Voted Top Extraction Equipment at the 2017 Lift Canadian Cannabis Awards, Vitalis is on the forefront of emerging Canadian and global markets. On track for a 105% increase in sales this fiscal year, these accomplishments confirm Vitalis’ place as the largest commercial supercritical CO2 extraction equipment company in the cannabis space in North America.

PRESS CONTACT

For Additional Information, please contact

Judy Campbell, Campbell Consulting
judy@campbellconsulting.com, 541-410-9113

The Importance of Certification for Pressure Vessels

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Do you work in an industry where the use of pressure vessels is common?

Then, explosions may be something you worry about. You want to stay safe at work and go home at the end of the day in one piece. Have you ever looked at a vessel and wondered how it can keep its pressurized contents safely in place? Who makes sure that these vessels are safe? Have you ever noticed the stamp or plate on a vessel and wondered what it means?

Let's find out!

What are Pressure Vessels?

If you don't work in a field that routinely uses pressure vessels, you may not know what they are. Simply put, they are containers that hold pressurized contents.

This means that the container holds its contents, either a gas or a liquid, at a different pressure than the atmosphere. It is critical that this vessel maintains its seal. Otherwise, the sudden pressure change will cause an explosion.

The vessels were originally invented to handle the steam needed to operate a steam engine back in the day. But now these vessels are very useful for a variety of applications. Everything on the following list uses these vessels in some manner:

  • Recompression chambers
  • Mining operations
  • Nuclear reactor vessels
  • Distillation towers
  • Submarines
  • Spaceship habitats
  • Petrochemical plants
  • CO2 extraction systems

These vessels are also routinely used for storing liquefied gases like propane, butane, LPG, chlorine, or ammonia.

Safety

As you can imagine, safety is a huge concern with these vessels. If you've ever popped a balloon with a pin, you have an idea of what would happen if a pressure vessel suddenly lost its seal.

Safety is the number one reason why proper certification is so important. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) put into place their rather stringent standards in 1914. Before this, working with these vessels was very dangerous.

The vessels often failed and exploded. These explosions often severely injured or even killed anyone that was nearby. Obviously, this was not ideal. So the ASME put into place inspections and certifications that these vessels had to pass.

It didn't start out this big, but now the ASME's code encompasses 28 books and over 14,000 pages. It covers residential and industrial boilers and every pressure vessel imaginable.

It is an international code that everyone should adhere to. After all, it doesn't matter where you are on the planet. Physics is still physics, and a vessel will still explode under the same miserable conditions.

ASME Certification

Not all these vessels are created equally. They can handle a wide range of PSI. Thus the ASME construction code has different standards that apply to the vessels. Regardless, though, any vessel that will handle more than 15 PSI is subject to the ASME code.

The vessels are divided into three groups. Those that handle up to 3,000 PSI, up to 10,000 PSI, and those that handle pressures over 10,000 PSI.

The ASME has guidelines for the types of materials that can be used to build these vessels. Some requirements apply to all vessels. Others only apply according to how much pressure the vessel will handle.

Once the vessel has been approved, it gets a stamp or plate that boasts ASME certification. Many insurance companies will only cover a company that uses pressure vessels if every vessel has this ASME certification.

Of course, it's possible that any pressure vessel can fail. Don't assume that a vessel is foolproof just because it has been certified. But, meeting the certification standards greatly reduces the risk of failure and a potentially serious tragedy.

Good Design

In addition to the materials that can be used, the code also covers how the vessel should be designed. The ASME clearly lays out design standards that a vessel must meet or exceed to get certification. Even the shape of the vessel is essential for proper construction.

This also extends to the fabrication process. Manufacturers should follow certain procedures during fabrication that will help ensure the integrity of the vessel. Manufacturers must also follow a quality control regimen to ensure that the vessels they produce are solid.

The ASME also keeps an eye on the manufacturer's track record. The vessels that a manufacturer produces must consistently meet the ASME standards.

Transportation

While a pressure vessel can explode at any time, they are particularly dangerous during transport. The vibrations and jostling about that happen during transport can be just enough to cause the vessel to fail.

Imagine the devastation if a vessel explodes on a public roadway.

For this reason, the Department of Transportation also gets involved here. They issue an R-stamp that is very important. If a vessel needs repairs, the welder must have this R-stamp certification.

The welder (and the shop) have to undergo strict testing to receive this certification. Once they obtain it, they have to stay in good standing with the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors.

Improper repair of these vessels is a hazard to the public that is taken very seriously. This certification ensures that everybody stays safe.

Stay Safe

Who knows how many lives have been saved because of the ASME standards. But the only way to ensure that they keep saving lives is by following them.

Now that you know what ASME certification is and why it's so important, it helps to ensure that your vessels meet all the codes and standards. If you see a pressure vessel in use that doesn't have the proper certification, say something. You could potentially save someone's life.

Would you like to learn more interesting tidbits about chemical or mechanical engineering? Be sure to check out our education page. We've got great bits of interesting information about the exciting world of engineering.

Liquid CO2 Pumps vs. Gas Pumps

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The business opportunities are seemingly boundless as new markets open up.

Before you can run off and join the extraction gold rush there may be a few questions you need to be answered regarding production.

The truth is, you're going to need the right equipment in order to be successful. Maybe you've heard someone tell you that liquid CO2 pumps outperform gas ones, but you have no idea what that even means. If you're interested in extracting the plant oils (and you should be), you will need a good CO2 pump. If you're new to the game, then maybe you don't even know where to begin or what questions to ask.

Here you'll find information about the pros and cons of each system, so you can make a decision for yourself as you embark on this new and exciting business venture.

What is Supercritical CO2 Extraction?

Wait, let's slow down for a second. Maybe you don't even know what a CO2 pump does?

CO2 is a "tunable solvent." You can control the pressure and temperature of the fluid in order to extract certain compounds from plant material. This makes CO2 a versatile solvent, allowing you to extract whatever it is you want. At the right temperature and pressure, CO2 becomes a supercritical liquid, meaning that it has properties of both a liquid and a gas. As a supercritical liquid, CO2 can dissolve materials within a solid. Because of this, the supercritical liquid CO2 is an ideal solvent that leaves behind no toxic residues in the finished product. This is the same process that has been used in recent decades in order to remove the caffeine from coffee beans in order to make decaffeinated coffee. It eliminates the need to use toxic chemicals, such as butane, in order to obtain the desired extraction.

Vitalis offers a range of CO2 extraction machines that will leave you with the desired products that will draw a crowd of people to your storefront.

Density of CO2

One of the most important factors you'll need to think about is the density of CO2. The density of CO2 varies widely with differences in temperature and pressure. This will cause the CO2 flow to vary and will affect how efficiently you can pump the CO2. When you perform a CO2 extraction, you want to maximize the solvent density without sacrificing quality or quantity of the product. If the density of CO2 is right, the extraction process will be quick and efficient.

When the CO2 is stored in its gas form, the gas is subject to density instability. This means that the density of CO2 gas will fluctuate in the tank. This can make for an unpredictable, fluctuating flow of CO2. A liquid CO2 pump offers the user a much more efficient and consistent flow.

Liquid CO2 Pumps Take the Crown

Not all CO2 pumps are created equal. While gas CO2 pumps are much easier and cheaper to design and manufacture, liquid CO2 pumps outperform these machines. When it comes to design, liquid CO2 pumps are more complicated and expensive to produce. However, the benefits of these systems vault them to the top of the game. With a liquid pumping system, extraction times are shorter, less product is lost, and the quality of the end product is much higher.

Additionally, liquid pumping systems are far less frail and can perform longer and harder. This is good news for your production numbers, your wallet, and the overall quality of your product. This means that you can produce more high-quality product in a shorter period of time. This is good for everybody involved.

By comparison, gas pumps just do not offer the same quality yield that liquid pumps do. Because of the low density of gaseous CO2, it is difficult to move it quickly enough for a quick and efficient extraction. Gas pumps are also subject to damage by terpenes, which harden when they are compressed. Liquid CO2 extraction machines avoid this problem.

With higher pressures inside the liquid machines, terpenes remain liquefied and can easily be separated from the rest of the materials. In short, if you're looking for a CO2 extraction machine that will be worth your investment, a liquid CO2 pump is the obvious choice. Vitalis has become the leading manufacturer of industrial supercritical CO2 extraction machine. We offer a range of machines that will ensure that liquid CO2 extraction is quick and efficient and leaves you with the high-quality extracts you and your clientele expect.

Certifications for Pressure Vessels

As with any business, it's important to have the proper certifications if you want to be successful. Operating these machines come with their share of potential safety hazards. Although CO2 extraction is much safer than other methods of extraction, such as butane, that doesn't mean all CO2 systems are created with safety in mind.

Vitalis systems are designed to meet the standards set forth by ASME and CSA. We want to make sure that your investments are insured. Adhering to industry standards ensures the avoidance of injuries as well as the smooth and efficient operation of your business. When you invest in a Vitalis system, you are investing in the future of your growing business.

Are You Ready to Get in the Game?

Now that you know a little bit about the benefits of using liquid CO2 as an extraction method, we know that you're excited to get started. You can request a quote from us to find out which of our models is best suited to your needs and what it will take to get your business off the ground.

INFOGRAPHIC | The Dangers of Butane

Stay Safe when you're extracting

Each week, more and more of these explosions make the news. Take a look at some real headlines from the past couple months alone.

Despite being an effective solvent for cannabis, butane is flammable and dangerous. Countless individuals are severely injured every month due to butane extraction labs, often located in densely-populated residential areas.

 

Butane Explosions