Hello All - Feedback requested on BR Instruments and other Methods

Hello everyone!
I am completely new to this forum, however have been on many grow forums over the years. I absolutely love the positivity and assistance everyone here provides to newcomers and professionals alike, and would like to contribute to this forum as much as I can down the road!

I am new the distillation procedures overall, and come from the analytical side of the industry in my previous experiences.

I have been tasked with a few things at my new work location, including sourcing some good equipment that is expandable down the road for capability and repeat-ability on results. We prefer to use less man-involved power, and love automation as much as we can afford to.

I have seen many things regarding the BR instruments spinning band system, and would love to get any input from people who utilize this service.

Some of the main things I enjoy looking over these are:
Automation capability (this may have to be an upgrade moving forward)
Separation of cannabinoids and other terpenoids
decarboxylation in a closed vessel system

Our main focus is terpene retention aside from cannabinoids. I would love to have a short path in my hands, but I have often heard/seen that the SPD process can degrade a lot of these terpenes, causing the smell to be “off”, is this true?

We are also current decarbing in an open vessel, so a majority of our monoterpenes are being lost to the atmosphere with this alone, which is why the BR system seems very appealing to us for re-introduction later down the production line.

Hope to hear thoughts, welcomes, and any feedback available!

Thanks again for making this forum so great!

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Some quick input.

First off let me say I’ve never used a BR spinning band unit so take this all with a grain of salt.

Well on the main point of terps, short path does indeed degrade the terpenes to the point where they are gross or “off” but to be honest I’m relatively sure most every distillation process does this. The cold trap system on the BR is pretty unique though and maybe with very careful distillation and very slowly ramping up temps and probably sweeping with nitrogen you might be able to get some favorable terp fractions. The other thing to take note of though is how are you extracting? If you’re using warm ethanol or butane for extraction I kind of doubt there will be any favorable terps to pull out at all.

As for automation, I feel like a wiped film unit would be easier to set up for automation since you can make it a continuous flow system you can walk away from. As far as I know spinning band will always be batch specific making automation difficult.

Sepearating cannabinoids via distillation is a lost cause honestly and I realistically don’t think that will ever happen. There a lot of posts on the subject you can find on this site.

Hope that helps! The folks at BR sometimes post on here and maybe they can help you out further, not trying to talk down on their setup in any way but there are a few reasons that seem like maybe that isn’t the system that will best fit your needs

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Hey Ras,

Thank you for the quick reply. I haven’t used either at this point in my hobby or career life, but I am extremely excited to scale and bring this type of product to our community. Most everyone here is utilizing a SPD setup of some kind, except for one manufacturer who uses the WFD here, and their products dont taste like much, thats for sure.

This information definitely helps, the owners here believe that there MUST be some sort of process to keep their volatile terpenes in tact, and usable in an end product rather than introducing a non-cannabis derived terpene. Although, the test results I see from the flower shows me they have some refinement on retaining their monoterpenes to begin with.

Our current extraction process is fairly rudimentary and archaic to be honest. We do utilize a cold EtOH extraction process using a cascading system. We have had limited resources regarding how much material we have available to process, which has kept the lab at bay for a bit.

Basically, it runs from cold EtOH and CO2 - rotovap - winterization - then a final rotovap in a smaller unit and open decarb in a beaker and hot plate which, while showing effective makes the oil basically smell burnt, and decarbed pretty horribly. I think this is why the closed vessel decarb has appealed to me, granted there is still heat being introduced into this process.

Our EtOH process will also be upgraded and changing soon (thank goodness). Looking more into automation for them such as the Capna Ethos 4 or similar would be a HUGE upgrade for our location.

Hopefully that information helps out to understand the basis of our facility a bit. Thank you again for taking the time!

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If anything I would say maybe purchase a jacketed reactor for decarbing and set up a really good cold trap system on that and see if you’re able to get any good terps that way. That would be much cheaper than purchasing a BR system and would probably give you the kind of indicators needed to see if it would be worth investing in a full BR setup. Worst case you can still use the reactor for decarbing batches in the future or for other R&D purposes.

Personally I’ve never been able to pull good terp fractions out of any eth extraction but I also haven’t really had much reason to try very hard either. In my experience though the best terpenes come out of subcritical co2 extractions. It might be worth looking into getting a co2 setup so you can pull put the terps, extract cannabinoids with eth, distill cannabinoids then reintroduce the terpene fraction if you have the funds available.

Also I’ve never used a Capna system but out of every ethanol extraction unit they seem to have the most second hand units for sale which doesn’t bode very well. I’ve also definitely seen some pretty strong critiques on their setup on this site. Might be worth looking into that more before investing in their systems.

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Thats a good point. The more I look back at the posts I realize I should have corrected myself in my thought process regarding continual feeding and automation of sorts. The lab the way it is now is as hands-off as possible to reduce labor hours required to make products. I have a feeling that things will be batch oriented here for quite a while, not just at this facility but in this state as plant count is limited, which can severely restrict the ability to make oil on a consistent basis.

We dont make a ton compared to many on these forums that I read about, but creating maybe 2,000 of crude oil in a months time, maybe more depending on the availability of the trim. Things will be scaling up soon, but this may only mean a total of 4-5,000g of crude oil being created within a month period.

I havent really seen good tek around yet with systems, whether it be SPD, WFD (more from seeing their products and trying them), that have a good terp profile - it almost sounds like this way things are at this point unless you are co2, may not be a practical method to capture and extract for sure unless you can be extremely large scale?

I think you are on to something about the Capna equipment, although it looks like it has the capability to make a nice product, the more I look into it I realize that a centrifuge is missing to disperse the residial etho in the feed material. Right now we dont even spin our material down, and I think the previous lab personnel who had this on the radar didnt see that as a flaw to minimize waste.

Thank you again for your feedback, I hope more people are able to chime in as time goes on. The managers above me want turnkey type systems, a sort of set up and go process, rather than me piecing DIY things together to make something work well in the meantime which can be a little frustrating at the same time.

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rasputin is spot on here.

  • If you’re interested in capturing terps you need to do that on the front end. They are delicate and don’t do well when exposed to the high temperatures used for distillation. You should look into doing terp pulls in your CO2 machine before pulling cannabinoids.

I am a BR user and can answer any questions you have about the system. But here are a few takeaways:

  1. Batch oriented but the system is upgradable if you start with a smaller pot flask and need a larger setup later on.
  2. Single pass operation - Because of it’s fractional separation abilities you only need to run one pass to get good distillate. This is a time saver.
  3. Semi-automated - There is no such thing as a lights-out system for distillation. Regardless of whether it’s SPD, WFD or SBD you need someone to keep an eye on it. The software allows you to program your run and it captures data about each run but it still requires a person to keep an eye on things. That being said, I multitask all day in the lab so I can do other things while it’s running. But you can’t walk away from it! The other piece to understand is maintenance. Understanding the system well enough to know when oil changes are needed, parts replacement etc. Finding quality labor is a problem in this industry but it’s really imperative that you find someone with an analytical mind that can troubleshoot your machines when things don’t look right or breakdown. This includes all equipment, not just distillation gear.

It sounds like you are very small scale if you’re only making 4-5,000 grams of crude per month so you could easily get by with a 5L pot flask to start. I’m guessing you’re on the THC side of the business not hemp. You can always scale up all the way to the 22L pot flask setup later on if needed. We did just that when we flipped over from the licensed cannabis side over to industrial hemp.


I agree! A CO2 system is definitely off the table here - they want to stick strictly with an Ethanol extraction process for cost and (eventually) larger scale production. I think that I just need to have a blunt conversation around the fact that, unless we do CO2 upfront to remove the terpenes, its a moot point to worry about it at this stage in development.

How do you like the BR system, nomadgt?
I think you definitely hit a few points that I like to see with that type of system, especially single pass ability. Does color vary from batch to batch? I noticed just browsing their insta, the coloration of product seems to change in each photo they use which I assume has to do with starting material, extraction process, etc. From a perspective of the owners, single pass is a big sell to them with high results.

Its usually myself, or a part time technician in the laboratory at this point in time, always something to do or clean so having to keep an eye on it would be no big deal, Im usually pretty anal about that stuff when its running and like to observe through the processes as well. Before me, no one in the lab had a mechnical/analytical perspective on the instruments, so maintenance was usually not performed, even small things like cleaning the condenser on the chiller. Ive gotten many of those things under control now, but Im not sure how it got this far into the game without anyone in here performing those types of maintenance items. I am used to repairing HPLC and GC/MS systems with no prior experience, so I dont think that part should be an issue.

Regardless of the system we are looking into, I think a 5L would be the size we go for, which still allows us some wiggle room as we expand in the future. IMO, they want to drop the cash on something scalable down the road, semi-automated (like BR), but have the capability to get setup and run ASAP. I had pitched them a simple short path turnkey setup, but they turned it down to opt for a more expensive option that allows that type of semi-automation that is becoming available.

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We like the BR a lot. It has served us well. Great cold trap design and capable of very deep vacuum. Easy to troubleshoot vacuum leaks too.

Color really can vary a lot depending upon the nature and quality of the crude. THC distillate is always a bit lighter than CBD distillate too. With CBD you’ll also see color change to more orange/red near the tails. Color shouldn’t be mistaken for potency though. There is plenty of sexy looking distillate out there that isn’t high potency.

Where are you located? If you talk to BR and need a demo let me know.