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Distillation Methods

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Short Path Distillation Systems


Distillation Methods

Our short path distillation systems are manufactured under exclusive licence from Chemtech Services Inc., the premier designer, manufacturer and supplier of molecular separation short path distillation equipment in North America for the distillation of Hemp and Cannabis to produce high-quality CBD oil or THC oil.

Thin Film Distillation

Thin Film Distillation is accomplished using a process which distributes the chemical compound to be distilled into a thin film across a surface, typically less than 1mm thick, to facilitate separation of a specific molecular fraction through boiling for subsequent collection via condensation.

Thin film evaporator systems typically include a heating facility to initiate boiling and a condenser to transition the resultant vapours back to a liquid state. High vacuum is also applied which has the benefit of reducing the observed boiling point of the material to be distilled. There are various types of thin film evaporators such as Falling Film evaporators, Wiped Film evaporators and Short Path evaporators capable of vacuum levels of 0.50 to 0.001 absolute pressure. The high levels of vacuum are achieved with Short Path systems. 

Wiped Film and Short Path systems use mechanical wipers to achieve a homogeneous Thin Film which facilitates the distillation process.

Short Path Distillation

Short Path Vacuum Distillation is a high vacuum distillation technique which enables the separation of heat-sensitive or high molecular weight compounds not possible by conventional techniques. Short path distillation gets its name from the distance in which the vapour stream is condensed. In this case, the evaporator wall generates the vapours as the feed moves by gravity down the evaporator wall while being agitated and distributed evenly. The vapour stream travels a “short path” directly to the condenser which is located within the evaporator chamber.

Since the vapour stream is immediately condensed, the short path distillation process precludes the vapour from forming vapour pressure, resulting in ultimate pressures of 0.001 mbar being attained. This allows heat-sensitive materials to undergo purification at much lower temperatures, preventing degradation, and allows for very high equivalent temperatures to be achieved at ambient pressure.

Distillation of Hemp and Cannabis

Most crude hemp and cannabis oils processed in our distillation systems are typically derived from either supercritical CO2 Extraction, Hydrocarbon Extraction or Ethanol Extraction. The quality of the extract will have an impact on the downstream distillation, and impurities such as water or ethanol may preclude obtaining the high vacuum levels necessary to concentrate CBD or THC as distillates and need to be removed first. Also, acid precursors to CBD and THC, known as CBDA and THCA, must be decarboxylated before conducting high vacuum distillation.

Once ready, the oil is introduced into the evaporator and distilled in two fractions: The residue fraction, mostly comprised of chlorophyll and other triglycerides, is dark in colour and is ultimately discarded; and the distillate fraction, predominantly comprised of CBD and/or THC along with other cannabinoids, with its light golden colour, is the desired product. Terpenes are also collected, but due to their light molecular nature are predominantly collected in the cold trap.

Our range of short path distillation systems, which incorporate proprietary technology and range from laboratory scale through to industrial scale, are tried and tested designs, having benefitted from many years of development by industry-recognised scientists and engineers, and meet all current relevant European regulations, CE Marking and GMP.

Our team of engineers and technicians has over 20 years of experience of designing and manufacturing laboratory-scale equipment, skid mounted rigs and pilot plants in the Oil & Gas, Petrochemical, Pharmaceutical, Fine Chemical and Water Treatment industries, as well as working with many of the world’s leading universities.

We work to very high standards and use the best components available on the market today, making our short path distillation systems robust, reliable and, ultimately, excellent value for money. Spectrum operates a business management system which incorporates 9001:2015 for Quality Management, 14001:2015 for Environmental Management and ISO 45001:2018 for Health and Safety. Looking for something different? We offer comprehensive services for the development, design, engineering and manufacture of high vacuum distillation systems, so if you have not found what you are looking for then contact us today with your specific requirements.