The only thing more important than solvent compatibility is your cash flow. Every day, millions of dollars are wasted with inefficiencies, and outdated equipment collecting dust that no longer produces revenue. Planning for tomorrow saves downtime and wasted capital. Multi-Solvent compatibility ensures your process doesn’t become antiquated, and your investment can be repurposed for other revenue streams.
Sited from a previous blog The Guide to Scaling Up
“We’ve had customers start their business just extracting crude oil with an AV15 and eventually upgraded to an AV30 and added distillation capabilities. When they started crystallizing cannabinoids with heptane, the AutoVap 15 was there to seamlessly process the mother liquor. They didn’t even need to change the seals out! When that customer eventually started using Acetonitrile for chromatography, the AutoVap again was the perfect tool of choice for solvent removal. By utilizing only PTFE, Stainless, and Borosilicate, the AutoVap is compatible with every solvent used in the cannabis industry, and then some.”
When digging deeper into multi-solvent compatibility it is important to understand chemical compatibility. Chemical compatibility is the measure of how stable one substance is when mixed with another substance. This is a critical factor when designing your chemical-based processes.
For the integrity of the equipment being used, the quality of the product you expect to produce, and the health and safety of the employees working the machine, proper education and due diligence must be paid.
There is a wide range of chemical reactions that may occur including; self-ignition from contact with air, the generation of heat resulting from contact of a chemical with moisture, decomposition, the generation of toxic gases, the heating of containers that may cause overflow or rupture, polymerization, the formation of new and possibly more dangerous compounds, fire, detonation, explosion or any combination of these or other actions. All of these can have disastrous outcomes if not properly monitored and maintained.
Most of the compatibility issues we will deal with in the cannabis processing facility will be with the elastomer selection in pumps and seals throughout the system. It is preferred to use components made of materials that are highly resistant to attack from solvents and the cannabis oils themselves.
Stainless steel is a great material for this reason. It has a high resistance to corrosion, temperature, and a wide range of chemical compatibilities.
PTFE and other fluoropolymers also show a wide range of chemical compatibilities, however as an elastomer they sometimes don’t provide the best seal due to their degree of hardness. As for where a harder elastomer won’t give you the proper seal you need. Depending on the solvent system that is being used in the process this can be an instance where incompatibility issues arise.
Many systems are designed with the capability to use multiple solvent systems. To ensure compatibility it may be necessary to change the elastomers before changing from one solvents system to another. There are many great resource databases online to reference when changing your process to accommodate a new method.
There are certain steps that should be taken to help ensure that you are always on top of system compatibility, following SOP’s to the letter is step number one.
Have a qualified Industrial hygienist help with oversight in this area. Steps should be taken to identify all of the chemicals used in the facility. Create a spreadsheet for each system listing the elastomers and materials of construction along with all of the chemicals used in the facility. This will help with determining the potential contact points, allowing for listing which ones should never be used with certain materials and elastomers. It is crucial to determine the physical properties of all of the chemicals being used in the facility to ensure proper storage and handling is reflected in your SOP’s.
If you have questions please contact Trusteel.