The future of the cannabis extraction industry is rooted in solving centuries-old processing inefficiencies while considering modern climate change challenges. With Summit Research’s new short path distillation methods, improving upon a previously failed technology, and PolyScience’s new chillers using natural refrigerants, the industry will be more environmentally responsible while giving a nod to hundreds of years of distillation methods.

Up until recently, distillation methods for cannabis extraction were fairly crude. Summit Research CEO Elliot Kremerman explains a bit about the evolution of their processes and how it is setting a new standard in the industry.

“When I first got into this process, we started with this device called the “Kugelrohr,” which is basically a hot ball and a cold ball and you heat it up and it just jumps the pathway,” says Kremerman. “And, at the time, the pre-processing knowledge and the ability to get that machine to work properly with any efficient rate… to this day it’s still is not useful in our industry. I started developing short path distillation off of some principal models that have been around for probably hundreds of years, and they just didn’t work well. So, we started to develop this pathway for cannabis and with certain dirty material, we would have a pre-journey pathway with some action going on in the center, and now it comes off the top.”

Newer systems PolyScience and Summit have designed have solved inefficiencies that have been around for a long time. By adding the technological advances of PolyScience, Summit continues to innovate the cannabis extraction industry. Kremerman explains some of these new advances,

“Where the big ball was hot and cold, now we have an actual system without a head which will make molecules jump the path very efficiently and very rapidly. And I think as PolyScience comes out with other chillers or other temperatures, it’ll make those systems now operate how we need them to for cannabis and try to remove the original notion that the head has to be a certain look, there has to be a certain height, there has to be a certain pitch to it. Now, we’re finding with technologies we’re removing the head and the connection’s right on the flask and it’s a completely different world, but no one’s seen (it) yet.”

PolyScience has indeed come out with “other chillers” and they are quite novel. The company’s current approach to satisfy needs of the industry and show corporate responsibility to the planet is to make use of natural refrigerants.

Philip Preston, president of PolyScience, explains. “We’re going to see tremendous change over the course of the next, roughly, three years … because we are currently setting up production facilities to migrate to natural refrigerants, which are the real impetus, the reduction of global warming potential. What we’re seeing is actually significantly greater efficiencies in these refrigerant gases and, also an ability to achieve lower temperatures.”

The innovation does not come without challenges, though.

“It presents a lot of new challenges for us because these new natural refrigerants are typically flammable materials, so the infrastructure that has to go into place to be able to assemble these and do this over and over and over, and do it very safely is a very significant investment,” adds Preston. “I think it’s going to be something that’s going to create a lot of new opportunities for us moving forward. A lot of the refrigerants that have been used and are being used today, for, especially for the very low temperature applications, like 404A, have an extremely high global warming potential. We can’t be working towards new designs of something that isn’t in line with our environmental views. So, as this evolves, I think you’re going to really see some cool stuff coming.”

Improving on a technology of the past with an eye towards environmental responsibility, the use of natural refrigerants in Summit’s new short path distillation method is more than just cool, but a leap in technology that will help advance the cool indeed.