5 Distillation Equipment and Extraction Trends to Watch in 2022
5 Distillation Equipment and Extraction Trends to Watch in 2022
The legal cannabis industry is an ever-evolving space, and cannabis extraction is a particularly dynamic and innovative segment. As we prepare to enter 2022, a year in which cannabis businesses continue to grow and new markets come online worldwide, it’s a good time to take stock of the trajectory of our industry and where it’s headed. For cannabis extractors and equipment manufacturers, these five trends will be important in shaping the future of the space in the new year.
continue to boom
While still a “small but mighty” segment of the cannabis industry, solventless extracts helped contribute to the 40% rise in concentrate sales in 2020, according to data from market research organization Headset. That year, $797 million in concentrates were sold, up from $567 million in 2019. This trend shows no signs of slowing down in 2022.
The rising demand for water hash and live rosin comes from preferences for products that don’t require use of chemicals like hydrocarbons or ethanol to manufacture. Solventless extracts also alleviate concerns around residual solvents in products that were not properly refined in post-processing, a concern for some medical cannabis consumers. And while water hash and solventless extracts are not quite as potent as their solvent-based counterparts, they offer a broad spectrum of cannabinoids and a bouquet of the plant’s natural terpenes, granting consumers full advantage of the entourage effect.
As a result, producers will respond accordingly in 2022. That means rosin presses and wash machines will be big in the extraction space; expect an increase in sales of this type of equipment. Additionally, manufacturers will begin innovating in the solventless space, building on old designs and coming up with new approaches that drive solventless extraction forward.
The need for isolates will continue to grow
The continued success of cannabis-infused products will bolster the already strong distillate market going into the new year. Distillate is used in the manufacture of a wide range of products, including edibles, beverages, topicals, and cosmetics, making it a staple of the industry and offering reassurance to distillation manufacturers that their market segment will remain strong in 2022.
Isolates of all kinds are sought after by manufacturers for a wide range of products. Delta-9 THC distillate, for example, is commonly used in manufactured cannabis products like edibles, while industrial hemp-derived CBD isolate is in demand by consumers who cannot consume THC and need assurance their products are completely free of that phytocannabinoid. Similarly, terpenes are harvested from cannabis (and other plants) and distilled into isolates to add flavors and aromas to infused products, as well as potentially enhance the therapeutic effects of cannabinoids.
As a result, the distillate market is likely to grow as more places throughout the world legalize cannabis. New facilities and expansions of existing extraction labs are expected to capitalize on the demand for various cannabinoid isolates. Expect to see an increase in distillation equipment such as boiling flasks, condenser heads, and receiver flasks in 2022, as well as turnkey short path distillation systems that include all these components in a single unit.
Standardization and regulations will begin to reshape the industry
GMP standards are a normal part of manufacturing in other industries. The same will soon be true for the cannabis industry, which is still in a state of regulatory flux around the world. For example, in the U.S., cannabis remains federally illegal, even as dozens of states have legalized access to cannabis products. Amidst these evolving and fragmented regulatory frameworks, no standardization of quality assurance for cannabis equipment or processes has yet emerged – but it will soon.
Cannabis products already fall into categories governed by GMP standards. Edibles, beverages, topicals, and cosmetics – as well as the equipment with which these products are made – must meet GMP standards. Cannabis producers should spend 2022 ensuring their products and operations are prepared for compliance audits that may not be enshrined in law now, but will be here soon.
In cannabis extraction, this has several significant impacts. First, it means utilizing an extraction system that only consists of UL certified equipment audited independently by Underwriter Laboratories to ensure all electrical components are safe. It also means employing a strict set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety protocols, as well as documenting virtually everything about daily processes and workflows.
Cannabis extractors who fail to bring their operations up to these standards may also find it increasingly difficult to work with new partners in 2022, many of whom are looking for manufacturers who will be able to withstand the global transition from the traditional market into a GMP focused future.
Holland Green Science ensures all equipment is UL certified and also stands ready to help prepare its clients for future industry standards, saving them time, money, and giving them a competitive edge when the regulations are ultimately put in place.
Automated continuous modular extraction systems will become the norm
The typical options – batch-modular systems and turnkey solutions for hydrocarbon or supercritical CO2 extraction – will be over in 2022. The extraction industry is clearly moving toward automated continuous modular systems, which blend the benefits of both batch-modular platforms and turnkey solutions while mitigating their shortcomings. With these systems, extractors get the front-to-back automated support of a turnkey solution, making it easy to get up and running. However, they retain the flexibility to expand a system as needs change, granting the dynamic benefits of a modular system.
Automated continuous modular systems help keep operating expenses low and maximize uptime. They also give extractors the flexibility to expand systems as production needs increase, as well as introduce redundancies, (like additional extractors, to ensure the system can continue producing even if one piece of equipment is down for maintenance or repairs. Finally, unlike batch-modular systems, these units only require one or two operators to run rather than an entire team, saving considerable overhead costs on labor.
Equipment manufacturers will largely move in this direction as they release new offerings, moving away from the scratch-built modular systems and the expensive turnkey platforms of the past. Expect to see the major manufacturers continue to develop equipment and upgrades around these types of systems that support front-to-back processing and post-processing, while also giving extractors the flexibility to grow and establish a system that suits their workflows.
At-home extraction devices will become more important
As cannabis legalization expands, some states are including measures for consumers, whether medical, adult use, or both, to grow their own plants at home. These folks will need accessible and simple ways to transform their flower into a usable product, and many have educated themselves on the basics of doing so at home. While extracts like live rosin are not difficult to make at home, ethanol or hydrocarbon extraction is dangerous when not done right, especially in a home setting.
Enter at-home extraction devices. In 2022, cannabis equipment manufacturers will aim to serve the home grower and hobbyist with items that can be used safely and to scale at home. Manufactured equipment geared toward the safe, effective home production of quality concentrates and extracts for personal use will begin to gain traction. Of course, along with manufacturing the equipment needed for home extraction, education and training materials will be a must, especially for consumers new to the process.
What do you see affecting the cannabis extraction space in 2022?
Cannabis, especially when it comes to extraction, has always been a collaborative space. At Holland Green Science we want to hear from you – what are your predictions or trends to watch in 2022? Get involved in the conversation with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.
With so much creative energy in cannabis extraction, every day is bound to hold something new. As we enter a new year filled with big opportunities for the cannabis industry as a whole and the extraction space in particular, keeping an eye on changes in the consumer market and the seismic shifts of the regulatory landscape will be key to continued success – choose an equipment supplier that can help you weather the storm with durable, certified hardware.