As the cannabis industry goes mainstream – and as the industry’s revenue surges to $16.9 billion in 2019 – extracted cannabis products are increasingly popular across a growing base of consumers. In particular, cannabinoid-infused products and edibles are proving to be important to patients – and especially profitable for manufacturers.
Distilled cannabinoids – like THC and CBD – are the key components of infused products, and they fetch top dollar on the wholesale market. In some localities, a gram of isolated cannabinoids retails for $100 in dispensaries. And, as Zion Market Research reports, the overall cannabinoid oil market is expected to grow to USD 2.47 billion by 2025. Because of the incredible profit potential, many entrepreneurs have jumped to meet the demand for cannabinoid extraction and distillation services.
But today’s laboratory equipment struggles to meet the special needs of cannabis pharmaceuticals. Cannabinoid processing systems usually operate 24/7 to maximize production and revenue, and the chemical processes of these systems require precise temperature control under the most demanding conditions. Moreover, reliability is critical; each hour of downtime costs companies thousands of dollars.
So, to overcome the challenges, leading-edge equipment manufacturers are engineering components for the extreme rigors and challenges of cannabis distillation. Recently, in a notable affirmation of the legalized cannabis market, PolyScience – the internationally-known manufacturer of liquid temperature control devices – stepped up to offer cannabis-tough, easy-to-use chillers that outperform the technologies of other industries.
The DuraChill line from PolyScience gives cannabis processing systems precise temperature regulation. Temperature regulation is critical for a quality product, safe operation, and maximum yield. And to ensure quality and cannabis-friendly reliability, the DuraChill is made in the USA and manufactured under ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 quality and environmental standards.
Eliminating Downtime with Cannabis-tough Durability
To create DuraChill, PolyScience purposefully considered the needs of cannabis professionals. Eliot Kremerman, a distillation-system integrator and the owner of Summit Research, helped PolyScience identify the special concerns of the cannabis market. He builds his systems with PolyScience chillers because of their durability and predictable performance.
“Cannabis isn’t the simplest industry. It’s very chaotic,” said Kremerman. “People don’t respect scientific equipment and they throw it everywhere. But the customers with chiller problems are expecting me to fix it the same day.”
As Kremerman notes, cannabis processing companies neglect the maintenance of their machines all too often. Turnover at cannabis businesses can be high, so technicians may not be adequately trained to care for the equipment they’re using. And the high value of cannabis oils tempts companies to push their systems beyond maintenance intervals.
In response to the problems, PolyScience engineered the DuraChill, and distillation-system integrators like Kremerman are excited about the new innovations. In particular, the DuraChill utilizes a patented, self-changing air filter system that eliminates preventative maintenance by automatically changing the air filter material. Additionally, the DuraChill continuously monitors the level of the coolant fluid to protect the system’s pump and prevent freezing, drastically limiting in-the-field problems.
“When I sell my customers PolyScience chillers, the only failures are when someone puts water in the condensers and cracks them. Otherwise, the chillers run non-stop everyday,” says Kremerman. “And if there’s a problem they know it’s the PolyScience name. They call PolyScience and get to the root of the problem.”
For DuraChill, the engineers at PolyScience created a patent-pending self-diagnostic system that compares the chiller’s functionality to the day it was manufactured. The system automatically adjusts for variances in ambient air temperature, fluid type, and other parameters. This feature allows companies to troubleshoot problems before they start simply by pushing a button.
A New Quality Standard for Cannabis Oils
The latest innovations don’t stop at durability. As Kremerman notes, it’s important to advance the quality of equipment. Better equipment creates better extracts and distillates. Temperature stability – and mechanical chillers like DuraChill – are critical to the underlying processes of extraction and distillation.
“I don’t want to sell my customers something that a company was making years ago because they’ll only be able to produce oil that’s as good as they could then,” says Kremerman. “I want to sell my customers a newer product that’s innovating and attacking the actual problem and creating a solution for better efficiency, better color, better potency.” And that’s where PolyScience comes in.
Innovative Product Development
Philip Preston, PolyScience’s president and lead engineer, maintains a rare orientation to research and development. Because PolyScience is a privately held company, Preston is able to go beyond short-term profitability to solve novel problems for upstart industries like cannabis.
“I love to ask ‘How can we take something that was a problem and totally eliminate that problem from the process?’” says Preston. “At PolyScience, we have that ability to invest in change.”
“In looking at this new chiller design, we started with designing a system that would automatically change the air filter for the customer once a month or so. And there’s enough filter material to keep the chiller happy for two years.”
“Then we incorporated the self-test feature whereby we profile and store in the onboard memory all of the parameters of the chiller; here’s how fast it heats, here’s it’s stability, here’s it’s cooling rate,” says Preston. This allows the chiller to assess its own functionality when operating in the field. Then, DuraChill® makes all the information easily available through a full-color touchscreen display.
Though Preston comes from a decidedly non-cannabis background, he relates to the innovative drive of the cannabis industry and has some words of wisdom for new entrepreneurs:
“A true entrepreneur always has a very clear vision of what their product will look like this year, next year, five years from now. And they’re prepared to work very long hours, wear lots of hats, and be grossly underpaid knowing that it offers some unique rewards when you can control your destiny and have a positive impact.”
PolyScience’s innovative spirit matches the ethos of the cannabis industry. And while temperature control and reliable laboratory equipment may seem like mundane topics, the behind-the-scenes innovation by companies like PolyScience leads the push for better, safer cannabis medicines.