From electricity-gobbling chillers to power-hungry solvent recovery machines, extracting cannabis oil can be surprisingly time- and energy-intensive. As the industry grows, disruptive tech companies like Ecodyst are making a big impact in cannabis labs by revolutionizing solvent recovery.
What began as a modern alternative to a decades-old process is now a burgeoning business providing cannabis extraction labs with what they need to accelerate cannabis oil extraction while using efficient methods that don’t present old hazards.
Calling all Cannabis Extractors
Ask a cannabis chemist what they need to run a proper extraction lab, and you’ll get a pretty universal list. Along with glassware and safety gear, you’ll hear about the rotary evaporator, or rotovap. These machines are used in a process called solvent recovery, which is key to creating refined cannabis oils and distillates that are free of solvents like ethanol.
For the last sixty years, labs have been at the mercy of cumbersome rotovaps and chillers that require lots of resources and effort to heat and cool. While technology at-large moved forward in that time, solvent recovery remained largely stagnant, leaving environmentally-conscious labs with much to be desired.
This is what first inspired Ecodyst founder George Adjabeng to create the innovative technology needed to keep up with the times and reduce waste.
“I thought technology and sustainability should be improved so scientists can focus on more complex tasks,” Adjabeng says. “Traditional rotary evaporator models need near endless supplies of dry ice, running water, or thermal fluid to maintain cold temperatures. The cannabis industry has a lot of participants that are eager to practice less wasteful solvent recovery methods as a standard, and there are many different ways Ecodyst can help.”
The Ecodyst EcoChyll line of rotary evaporators eliminates the need for dry ice, water, and bulky thermal fluid chillers by using direct self-cooling technology. By improving the efficiency of the traditional solvent recovery process, scientists and lab techs can shift more focus to what they’re making, rather than how they’re making it.
Cannabis Chemistry Solutions
After starting in pharmaceutical and university labs, Ecodyst found it had a natural home in the growing cannabis extraction industry.
“We learned the EcoChyll was already being used in cannabis labs, so we went to a cannabis business tradeshow to learn more about the market and their needs,” says Adjabeng. “The first thing that became clear was the need for more sustainable industrial-scale rotary evaporators, as we saw solvent recovery was a major bottleneck in cannabis extraction.”
Some parts of the EcoChyll design were already ideal for cannabis extraction. A drain valve minimizes risk by getting rid of the need to disassemble and handle hot and heavy flasks, which excited small cannabis labs operating with skeleton crews.
Next, Adjabeng and co-founder Kwabena Williams decided to expand the line of EcoChyll X7s to accommodate larger cannabis extraction labs and help them meet the industry’s growing solvent recovery needs. That’s because their team was surprised that traditional rotary evaporator companies were promoting their 20-liter rotovap (which had only a 10-liter actual capacity) as large-scale solvent recovery systems.
“We introduced the medium-sized 22-liter evaporator, which has almost the same maximum volume as a traditional 50-liter rotovap. We then decided to push further on behalf of the cannabis industry to provide cannabis extractors with more options,” says Adjabeng. “These are great, energy-saving rotovap options for all extraction labs, whether they use ethanol or CO2—the EcoChyll X7 100-Liter turnkey uses about the same 10 kW of energy as a traditional 20-liter rotovap. We have also significantly increased rate of recovery, recovering more liters per hour from every extraction.”
Scaling for the Growing Cannabis Industry
As the cannabis industry continues to grow at a rapid pace—especially industrial hemp processing for CBD extracts—the Ecodyst team sees even more appetite for even larger solvent recovery systems. That’s driven their team to launch the super-large industrial-sized 200-liter EcoChyll X9, which caters to many different cannabis extraction needs, but is particularly helpful to hemp processors. With an EcoChyll X9 200-Liter, hemp processors can avoid the high energy consumption, heat output, and operating costs associated with other systems like falling film evaporators. As a matter of fact, equipment that rivals falling film evaporators are already on the Ecodyst launch list for later this year.
In the meantime, Ecodyst’s cannabis customers are already showing the founders how their technology can be used in resourceful and unexpected ways, conducting work like short path distillation and decarboxylation right inside their EcoChyll units.
“If we hadn’t been engaged with the cannabis community, there’s no telling how long it would have taken us to find out about decarbing right in the machine,” says Williams. “Our cannabis customers are challenging how we think about our own technology and pushing us to develop new solutions for them.”
Sharing the Power of Science
These learning experiences are just one example of meaningful customer engagement, and the Ecodyst founders don’t take that lightly. Even as the company has grown, the founders still do the installation and training themselves, providing new customers in the cannabis industry with hands-on expertise in how to get the most out of their new tools.
Now, the visits are part of their unique brand experience and concentration on good customer service.
“Ecodyst offers custom solutions to help solve customers’ unique problems. Sometimes it’s a custom glass component, and sometimes it’s in the set-up of the machine itself,” says Ecodyst’s customer service and sales manager Trevor White. “George and Kwabena interact directly with the customers because they know the machinery the best, and they have the knowledge to identify where our partners can make changes in the technology that can really help.”
Encouraging an Eco-Friendly Future
With more and more companies trying to find the best methods for extracting cannabis distillates or isolates, Ecodyst is devoted to making scientists’ lives more efficient and allowing them to concentrate on the principles, not the process. The EcoChyll is ready to find its place in any lab, helping cannabis extractors with both CO2 and ethanol extraction.
In the future, they hope to enable every lab to help save money, save our planet, and deliver great products to consumers with increasing efficiency.