Frequently Asked Questions About Apeks CO2 Extraction Systems
Are your systems faster than the competition?
There are a lot of claims about extraction efficiency in the marketplace today that can make it hard for the consumer to get a clear answer to this question. Extraction efficiency is a function of pressure, temperature, flow rate, time and material preparation. For an accurate assessment of extraction time, be sure to compare apples to apples – i.e., what is the flow rate of CO2 at pressure X and temperature Y, and how long is the system running at those parameters? Decarboxylated (baked) material will extract faster than non-decarbed material.
To compare us to the competition: the flowrate of CO2 on our Production systems is 2.3-6.1 L/min. Supercritical extraction times to accomplish a 90% complete extraction for decarboxylated cannabis is 4 pounds/hour, and 2 pounds/hour for non-decarbed material. Subcritical extraction rates are roughly 2-3 times longer.
For GMP compliance, is it mandatory to have a separation of separator, extraction and pump/chillers?
Our machine allows customers to put a wall between the separator and extractor if they need to put one in based on their needs. The FDA has guidelines for GMP compliance, but the FDA isn’t involved in the cannabis industry because they are a federal agency.
Ultimately, the level of separation required in their facility depends on where they are and who will be performing inspections that allow them to operate. Customers should check with the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) about their local requirements.
It is a good idea to separate the raw material side of the machine from the finished extract side of the machine to prevent the dust in and around the extractor vessels from mixing with the extracted oil.
FDA GMP guidelines for food can be seen here.
Pharmaceutical GMP is different, and more restrictive than food. Customers will have to find out to what level of GMP they need to design by contacting their AHJ.
Do you make a system larger than 40 liters?
Yes, we now offer a 40L x 40L 5000psi featuring the Apeks Dual-Phase Pumping System (utilizing both gas and liquid pumps) delivering twice the speed of extraction. With the The Force™ 5000-40Lx40LDP capacity, 80-100 pounds of material can be processed per day. The Duplex™ allows you to process up to 180lbs/day!
Can your systems fractionate the oil into different weights?
Yes! Apeks Supercritical systems use a simple separation technique called fractional extraction that takes full advantage of the varying solvency power of CO2 at different pressures and temperatures. Unlike competitive systems that utilize complex multi-vessel fractional separation methods, our systems can perform fractional extractions through both subcritical and supercritical extraction modes. This allows for selective extraction of the lighter molecules in the subcritical mode, and the heavier fractions in supercritical mode.
Competitive systems that employ complex fractional separation require high heat to be applied to the separator vessels in order to get fractions at multiple pressures causing loss of terpenes and thermal degradation. Our easy-to-use fractional extraction method allows our systems to maintain a cold separator during all stages of the extraction. This preserves volatile oils and terpenes, while producing a very light-colored oil, regardless of the extraction system parameters.
Do I need to fractionate?
It depends. (Keep in mind that most fractions are not 100% – there is always some mixing of the different fractions.) In competitive systems that utilize fractional separation, a large portion of the yield is dark green due to the aggressive extraction parameters they use. In order to utilize the entire plant, the green fraction will have to be secondarily processed as well. Most customers don’t like the limited yield of “the good stuff” and just mix the 3 fractions back together and secondarily process anyway.
What are the benefits of pumping CO2 in a gas phase rather than a liquid?
Pumping gas works best for lower operating pressures in the separation vessels which allows the separator temperature to be much lower. Exposing the extracted oils to high temperatures can cause thermal degradation and a loss of volatile oils and terpenes. The Apeks Diaphragm Compressor Technology utilizes a gas pump which allows for cold separation to preserve the oils. The extracted oil never sees a temperature higher than the extraction temperature. Competitive systems use water or electric band heaters at 150F or higher and heat the oil.
Liquid pumps are better suited for higher-pressure. That’s why we designed our Dual-Phase Pumping System for the Apeks 5000psi systems — to utilize the advantages of both gas and liquid pumping.
What is the difference between supercritical and subcritical CO2 extraction?
CO2 is a unique solvent because its solvency power can change by simply adjusting the temperature and pressure during the extraction. When the pressure and temperature of the CO2 are above 1083psi AND 88F, the CO2 is considered supercritical. If the temperature is dropped below 88F the CO2 changes to a liquid and referred to as subcritical.
Supercritical CO2 (SCCO2) extraction is a strong solvent and can extract all of the lighter (volatile oils, light waxes) and heavier molecular weights (heavy waxes, lipids, fats, paraffin) to produce very large yields. At very high temperatures (above 120F) and pressures (5000psi) it will extract chlorophyll as well. Subcritical CO2 is a weaker solvent and generally pulls out just the lower molecular weights, and has correspondingly lower yields and higher extraction times.
Why are fully automated systems better than manually operated systems?
Our fully automated, “lights-out automation” systems significantly reduce the amount of time required to learn how to operate the system, as well as improve the consistency of the output from the system regardless of who the operator is. Manually operated systems require an operator to have a deep understanding of the complexities of the system, not just how to follow a script blindly. We have seen “extraction artists” hold the owners of manual systems hostage for more pay, a piece of the company, etc.
Are automated systems safer than manual systems?
Yes. Our fully automated systems have 2 levels of safety protection – electronic control and mechanical backups. Electronic control continuously monitors the pressures within the entire system and will react automatically to an over-pressure condition to prevent damage to the equipment and release of CO2 into the operating space. Manual systems don’t have this level of safety control and, thus, require the operator to continuously monitor the system to prevent an over-pressure condition.
Do you lose the ability to control the critical extraction parameters in a fully automated system?
Absolutely not! Manufacturers of manually operated machines will frequently claim that you need a manually operated system in order to have control of the extraction process. In fact, it is the complete opposite. Our fully automated systems allow the user to have complete control of the critical extraction parameters – pressure, temperature and time – throughout the entire extraction process, but eliminates the need for the operator to continually monitor the system and make manual adjustments. An analogy is cruise control on your car – cruise control monitors and controls the speed, but you can adjust it anytime, and you can always hit the brake or accelerator!
Is there a way to keep track of settings of production runs?
Yes. As of 2016, our Mid-range (The Transformer™) and High Production (The Force™ and The Duplex™)extraction systems feature data-tracking software which allows operators to record, track and verify temperatures and pressure variations of runs.
Check out our YouTube page for videos about Apeks Supercritical, how our systems work, post processing, etc! Apeks Supercritical YouTube Page
Purchasing an Apeks Supercritical Extraction System
Is training included?
Yes. On-site operator training for all Apeks Supercritical systems is included in the purchase price. Training is conducted by an Apeks Service Engineer. Training typically takes less than 4 hours.
How do I purchase a system?
Purchase terms are 50% down, 50% on completion. Systems will ship after receipt of full payment.
What is the time between when I order the system and when it ships?
Can I pick my system up from your factory in Columbus, OH?
Yes. Please note that Ohio sales tax will apply.
How do I pay for a system?
Wire transfer, cashier’s check or company check can be deposited to our bank account or sent directly to us. ALL OTHER FORMS OF PAYMENT MAY BE ASSESSED A 3% HANDLING FEE.
Do you offer financing?
Yes. WE WORK WITH SEVERAL EXTERNAL LEASING COMPANIES TO HELP YOU FIND THE BEST RATE. TYPICAL LEASE TERMS ARE 10-20% DOWN, WITH RATES VARYING FROM 8-18% DEPENDING ON THE CREDIT WORTHINESS OF THE BUSINESS.
How much is sales tax?
Sales tax is required for all systems unless delivery state and/or local sales tax is not required or a valid State Tax Exemption Certificate is received.
Do you buy your systems back?
We don’t buy systems back, but we do trade-ups: up to 75% of the purchase price can be used as a trade-in credit towards any of our Production Series models!
Still have questions?
Click on the map below to find out who handles your area and call them directly!
Canadian, East coast, Colorado and International customers, please call Dave LaRussa at 740-809-1160, Ext. 715 or email him!
Midwest, South, and West coast customers, please call Jake Didion 740 809-1160, Ext. 725 or email him!