If you’re maintaining and planning the operations of an extraction facility, it’s important to be able to efficiently and quickly calculate potential yields that your lab may produce from specific lots of biomass. In fact, it’s one of the most important pieces of data to enable a successful operation.
In the sections below you will learn all about the variables that play a role in accurately calculating your crude and distillate yields.
Biomass potency varies widely across different farms and cultivars. Given this fact, and that this piece of information will determine your overall yields more than any other factor – potency is by far the most important piece to consider.
When purchasing biomass, assessing the biomass on a dollar / mg or gram of cannabinoid basis is perhaps the most accurate form of assessing the cost of your inputs.
A final consideration that is often overlooked, is that 1-2% of the cannabinoids will always remain in the biomass after extraction, with the exception of perhaps powder milled material – which our next point will cover while this fine of a mill is not recommend.
This means than generally if one batch of biomass has a potency of 10%, you can easily get 80-90% yields (% of cannabinoids extracted compared to total cannabinoids in biomass). However, if another batch of biomass has a potency of only 4%, you will probably never attain yields higher than 75%.
How finely you mill your biomass is going to play a large role in how quickly extraction can occur. In other words, the finer you mill your biomass, the more surface area is available. The more surface area available, the quicker the ethanol will dissolve the cannabinoids.
However, an important consideration is that there are also compounds within the biomass that we do not want to extract if we can help it. A lot of these compounds are found within the cells of the plants, and it would cause a lot of unnecessary refining to obtain cannabinoids if we were to mill the biomass so fine (powder milled for example) that we break the cell wall and subject our solvent to these undesirables as well.
This is primarily why there is an optimal window for mill size, and we recommend somewhere approximately around 1/4” particle sizes.
One other very important factor the mill of your biomass is going to directly affect is the amount of biomass you can fit in each CUP bag, which determines how many lbs. / extractions you can process overall.
The time in which it takes you to perform an entire extraction cycle is going to directly determine how many extractions you can perform in any given work shift. However, you may make the mistake of calculating your throughput like this:
Firstly, this calculation, while a good estimate if normalized / adjusted, does not consider many other important factors.
One of which we already mentioned; how fine you mill your biomass, is going to directly affect how many pounds per CUP-30 bag you can fit. And therefore, how many pounds of biomass you can extract per cycle.
The bag can hold up to 30 pounds but depending on your milling process etc., you may have bags that range from 20-30 pounds and this will greatly affect your overall calculations.
Secondly, this calculation did not consider any downtime, and this can come in many forms in a properly run lab:
All of which should be considered and understood if you’re attempting to calculate over all yields and throughputs precisely.
The mill size of your biomass as discussed above, along with your solvent’s temperature, are the two most important factors that are going to determine the amount of time required for an efficient extraction to take place.
The colder your solvent, the slower it will be at dissolving your target cannabinoids. But cold extraction also comes with its upsides as well. Using cold ethanol, in contrast to room temp or warm ethanol, will allow you to selectively pick up your fat-soluble desirable compounds before it grabs the less desirable water-soluble compounds.
For each ethanol extraction you perform it is inevitable that you will lose some ethanol and therefore a bit of cannabinoid lost in the solution.
The centrifugal capabilities of the CUP system allow you to ensure that you’re getting the maximum amount of ethanol removed from your biomass (98%+ of the ethanol present). This ensures that you’re consistently capturing the maximum amount of cannabinoids per extraction and optimizing your lab’s yield.