Bryan Colwell

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Cannabis Processing: Sonication vs. High Pressure Homogenization

Posted by Bryan Colwell on Aug 17, 2022 12:45:00 PM


Manufacturing cannabis so that it can be used in consumable products is difficult. This is because the chemical compounds (i.e., “cannabinoids”) that are found in the cannabis plant and (generally) responsible for a product’s psychoactive and modulative effects are naturally fat-soluble; it is impossible to mix them with water and/or other ingredients without first finding a way to break them into extremely small pieces. Even then, no cannabinoid will ever be truly water-soluble. Instead, its particles will simply be small enough that they can be mixed into a stable emulsion or suspension and, thus, ready for use. Take a look at the difference between using sonication vs. high pressure homogenization to produce heterogenous mixtures during the production of cannabis oils, beverages, edibles, topical creams and capsules (to name just a few):

Using Sonication for Cannabis Processing

Sonication uses sound energy to disrupt the molecular bonds that hold cells together, causing cells to break into nano-sized particles. It works like this: a probe is inserted into a solution containing the sample. This probe vibrates at a super high speed so that bubbles form in the solution, grow and then burst; it’s a process that simultaneously sends shock waves into the solution, breaks apart the sample and ultimately disperses the resulting particles evenly throughout the solution. While sonication is effective for small batch samples of delicate materials, it is not especially suitable for processing large quantities of certain types of tissues. Many plant tissues, for example, are so tough that it would require a longer duration and higher intensity of force to break down the sample’s cell walls. This often produces heat that causes molecular damage to the sample itself, rendering any subsequent products biologically ineffective.

Why High Pressure Homogenization is a Better Solution for Cannabis Processing

High pressure homogenizers use pressure to break down a sample, forcing it through a series of orifices so that its cellular bonds are eventually broken. BEE International homogenizers, in particular, are able to be customized with a combination of additional forces (shear, cavitation and impact) to further maximize particle reduction, speed processing and lower the time and overall cost of production. In this way, high pressure homogenization (HPH) is a far superior option for cannabis processing. Not only can high pressure homogenizers be used for large batches and with multiple types of samples, they can be set up as part of an inline process, allowing the mixing and homogenization of large volumes of the sample to occur without interruption. Indeed, this continuous flow of operation ensures faster and more consistent results and is a lot more economical than sonication since no additional pieces of equipment or processing steps are needed to produce readily useable cannabinoid nanoparticles.

The BEE International Advantage

The proprietary emulsifying cell technology behind our high pressure homogenizing equipment produces stable nanoemulsions, enhancing the bioavailability of cannabis products by up to 75%; reducing the amount of active ingredient needed for optimal effect; speeding the rate of absorption into the body; extending shelf life; and ensuring consistency and clarity for better appearance and taste! To learn more about the value of using BEE International high pressure homogenizers for cannabis processing, please contact us at this link.

Feel free to also download our free eBook, “3 Reasons Why High Pressure Homogenization Improves Cannabis Products,” for additional information.

Graphene Processing: When Particle Size Reduction Isn’t Enough

Posted by Bryan Colwell on Aug 1, 2022 9:30:00 AM

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Graphene is a form of carbon. It was discovered in the early 2000s and has the potential to literally change the world. But only if it is processed correctly. Keep reading to learn why high pressure homogenizers are the key to improving graphene processing and, thus, crucial to the dawn of an exciting new world of manufacturing possibilities.

What is Graphene?

Graphene is a single, two-dimensional slice of graphite, a form of carbon. (You might remember that graphite is commonly used in pencil lead.) Scientists suspected graphene existed, but it wasn’t until 2004 that two researchers were actually able to isolate it and spur extensive study into its possible uses. And there are many uses because even though graphene is one million times thinner than a human hair, it is 200 times stronger than steel. It is also lightweight, transparent, flexible, highly conductive, and nearly impermeable, making it useful for many different types of applications. What’s especially unique about graphene is the fact that it is only one atom thick, extending in width and length but having no discernible height! Scientists are looking into using graphene in wearable and portable electronics; renewable energy sources; water filters; insulation; sporting goods; semiconductors; industrial lubricants and coatings; adhesives; biomedicine; and more!

How is Graphene Processed?

Using graphene for any application depends on isolating it from graphite. If you consider graphite a stack of towels, then each towel is a layer of graphene and the scientist must separate this stack to isolate a single layer of graphene. He or she must peel one towel off the stack in order to “make” graphene. However, unlike a stack of towels, which has a uniform width and length and a known number of individual components, graphite is irregularly shaped with an unknown number of layers to be revealed. In this case, our scientist must carefully separate each graphene layer from the graphite (or separate each towel from the stack) while keeping its total length intact, never knowing exactly when to stop. It’s not an easy task despite the fact that the first graphene processing tool to be used was simple scotch tape; scientists used tape to peel off layers of graphene from a chunk of graphite and then apply it to a substrate material. When the tape was removed from the substrate, an atom-thick layer of carbon was left behind— graphene! While this method works, separating and leaving behind separate layers of graphene over and over again, it’s neither cost-effective nor scalable for large volume production. Other options, including chemical exfoliation, are like-wise insufficient since they utilize complex processes that risk exposure of and/or contamination by toxic materials and/or take a lot of time and produce poor concentration and low yield. The best graphene processing equipment overcomes the electric forces that hold the layers of graphene together. It exfoliates and reduces the layer of graphene sheets and increases viscosity. A high pressure homogenizer is the best graphene processing tool.

Why BEEI High Pressure Homogenizers Improve Graphene Processing

High pressure homogenizers use pressure to reduce a substance to its smallest individual particles. You might believe that this alone makes them best-suited to shearing off graphene sheets from a larger graphite sample. Graphene processing, however, is a lot more than particle reduction. Reliable graphene processing also renders precise layer counts and enhances the stability of graphene-based nano-fluids, and only BEE International high pressure homogenizers have the patented emulsifying technology (EC) capable of delivering these things. Indeed, the proprietary combination of forces we use in our EC technology ensures not just the smallest particle reduction of any sample, but scalability and high yield, as well. Furthermore, the design of our flexible modular system is easy to use, clean, maintain and service, utilizing a multipass automation system and allowing custom processing for any type of application so that results are always scalable and the integrity of all graphene layers is always preserved. With our equipment, flake graphite can be easily transformed into useable graphene in less time and with less money, enabling you and/or your customers to start using this versatile material and usher in a brave new world of possibilities. Please contact our team at BEE International to learn more about using our high pressure homogenizers for graphene processing.