Our goal is to assist you through the process of purchasing a supercritical fluid extractor that is perfect for your needs and budget. There are many different companies that sell extractors in and they all have pros and cons. You’ll need to determine the appropriate vessel size, (which will determine your daily capacity) and your desired pressure range (which will determine speed and quality). Lastly, you will need to decide what level of customization and support you will need.
Choosing Your Vessel
It is important to choose the right vessel size that will meet your current needs as well as future demand. Most extractors are expandable but require downtime and additional investment. A smaller system will come with a 5 L vessel, which will process about 2 1/2 pounds per run with eight runs per day. After a 5 L vessel, the size jumps to 20 liters, which will process 10 pounds per run with six runs per day. From 20 Liters, you can obtain 40, 60, 100, and beyond. After 100 liters, you will be installing industrial size equipment with virtually limitless volume production.
Once your material has been extracted, it is transferred to the collection chamber/s. Your collection chambers have a large impact on the quality of your extract. If you have a single extraction chamber you have no ability to obtain multiple qualities or cuts of extract. We suggest a minimum of three cascading collection chambers to produce the highest quality extracts. This also gives you the ability to step down the pressure in the system more gradually, which will greatly improve the overall quality.
Another factor to consider is the pressure rating of the extraction vessel and system overall. Generally, the higher the pressure, the more expensive the unit will be. You can purchase a system at the lower end of the supercritical curve around 2000 psi or as high as 10,000 psi. It is important to note that the larger volume systems become exponentially more expensive with higher-pressure ratings. Depending on your extraction technique, a lower pressure system might be completely adequate. There are two different camps for selecting pressure. Some people think that the lower the pressure the better because there is less impact on the organic compounds but others think higher pressure is better because it ruptures the cell wall more efficiently.
When choosing your system, it is important to consider terpene retention during the extraction process. You can increase the terpene yield by properly prepping the material and also by adding a vapor condenser or cold trap to the system. You can always buy them at the terpene store online and add them back to the extract.
Heat is an important factor for the extraction process. The temperature at which the supercritical extraction takes place is also controversial. While you can obtain faster extractions with higher temperature, the general rule of thumb is the lower the temperature the better.
CO2 Basics 101
Check out our CO2 Basics section to learn more about:
- Supercritical Carbon Dioxide
- How it’s different from other types of extraction methods
- How supercritical CO2 extraction works
- CO-Solvent effects
Check out our Material Preparation section to learn more about:
- Particle size
- Cutting action
- Moisture content
System Set Up
Check out our System Set up section to learn more about how to set up your system for:
- Manufacture training