The yields from extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis are subject to influence from a magnitude of interconnected variables. People commonly mistake the yield variables as being exclusively associated with the extraction process itself. This, however, is not the case. The upstream steps, such as the preparation of the cannabis, are equally as important to the product yield. In the simplest case, you cannot extract what is not there.
One of the main bottlenecks of the preparation process, is that drying the cannabis is both time and energy intensive. If this step is not done correctly, the water levels remaining the in the cannabis will be too high. In the best case, this causes a poorer yield, but in the worst-case scenario, where individuals are using the supercritical extraction method, too much water can actually cause damage to the extraction equipment. On the flipside of this, however, excessive drying at high temperatures and/or over a long period of time, can cause reduced levels of cannabinoid content. This inefficiency leads to additional costs of time and energy, increasing overall costs per unit. This is only exaggerated by the lower yields, due to low cannabinoid content; which leads to a negative multiplier effect.
The clear challenge that is presented from the issues above is finding the optimal drying conditions that will maximize yield, while simultaneously minimizing the costs per unit. At Ayurcann, we are actively pursuing this formula for ideal drying parameters. The major issue that we will be solving for our clients is that: trying to use elevated temperatures to reduce drying times, reduces the cannabinoid content of the material, leading to a reduced or subpar yield. On the other hand, however, using low temperatures for extended periods of time, leads to bottlenecks in the process, leading to lower operational efficiencies, which also raises the cost per unit. To add to the complexity of this issue THC degradation into CBN (the degraded form of THC that has only a fraction of the potency) is positively correlated with drying temperatures. Oxidation, however, can also lead to the degradation of THC into CBN. The implications of this being that the longer exposure period (drying time), the lower the THC yield.
To further complicate this enigma in order to eliminate a processing step downstream, the conversion of THCA to THC through decarboxylation, which is catalyzed by heat, higher drying temperatures are required. This means that the higher the drying temperature, the lower the THCA yield and the higher the THC yield. Therefore, companies must find a balance that minimizes the degradation rate of THC to CBN, while also maximizing the conversion rate of THCA to THC. All while being conscientious of the precedent constraint that increased drying temperatures will negatively impact cannabinoid content. Therefore, Ayurcann will be solving a puzzle that has competing inversely related forces, with the goal of optimizing overall efficiencies in both time and energy consumption (i.e bottlenecks), that optimizes a firm’s’ yield of cannabinoid extract products.
In Ayurcann’s pursuit of the solution to this problem, new and innovative technologies are being explored on a regular basis. One of the more promising recent developments is known as “freeze drying”. Under this process, drying time is significantly reduced, and the process is carried out under low temperatures. The basic principle of this drying process is to create a low pressure environment, where energy will be passed through the material being dried, to instantly vaporize the water content. This means that the bottleneck effect caused by extended drying time and the loss of cannabinoid content as a result of high drying temperatures, are both greatly mitigated. The major drawback this process currently faces however, is the extremely high energy demand, which leads to increased energy consumption, that will increase overall costs per unit.