Jan 10, 2020
Cannabis seems like a glittering new opportunity. In reality it’s more difficult than most other bulk farming crops, and it’s getting more competitive by the day. Buying prices per acre are at commodity levels, and the crop itself is tougher and stickier than most biomass. Everything has to go right in your processing plant if you want to preserve terpene extraction. Without the right expertise, it’s easy to lose your investment in cannabis. It’s no longer an amateur game out there.
– Hempstead Farms
New Hemp Drying Technology Yields a Better Solution for Hempstead Farms
When Hempstead Farms began to change their focus from cannabis start-up to high volume production processor ready to handle its first harvest, they turned to ABM Equipment for help.
Hempstead Farms recently selected ABM and Kason Corp. to develop and install a new, fully integrated hemp biomass drying and handling system. When operational, the unit will handle all five phases of biomass processing in a single line:
- Stalk Removal
- Full-systems solution requirement: Although they are savvy businesspeople, Hempstead Farms needed to partner with a company that had specific cannabis/hemp processing experience in process design, industrial machinery, and large-scale biomass and cannabis handling.
- Food-grade requirement: The processor was handling high-quality materials and wanted to adhere to Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) guidelines. Any equipment had to be pharmaceutical level or food-grade to ensure sanitation, safety and compliance.
- Rapid throughput: When the crop is ready, it must be dried within one week or the biomass will start to decompose.
- High-quality terpene preservation: The growers had settled on a strain with a particularly high cannabinoid profile, so preservation of the material was extremely important.
- Preservation of flowers and stems. Long-threaded stalks challenge equipment and required special conveyance and particle size reduction systems.
- Particularly difficult material: Cannabis is more difficult to handle than other biomass products because of its stickiness and toughness.
- End-to-end solution: complete installation, integration, testing, and optimization by ABM
- Sanitary, food-grade equipment, undergoing GMP approval process
- Consistent, 10% moisture content in every batch, at ambient temperature
- 5% terpene yield
- Preserve green coloration, flower integrity, and aroma
- Throughput of 8,000 pounds per hour per machine
Cannabis Processing: Overcoming Challenges Together
Hempstead Farms was created by a young entrepreneurial family that had recently sold its part of prior business and was moving on to new opportunities. With the legalization of cannabis in their state of Colorado, they used the funds and land they had purchased to successfully raise a large harvest of cannabis. As newcomers to the industry, Hempstead Farms didn’t want to accept the risk of acting as first-time equipment integrators, selecting and connecting various pieces of equipment.
Every crop is a bit different, depending on the variety, weather, and soil conditions, and environment and season. You can’t just take one system from one cannabis processor and hope it works in every situation. There will always be process and configuration adjustments to optimize the system. With cannabis, every small improvement in yield percentage of terpene preservation counts, so you need the kind of precision that comes from years of biomass processing and on-site attention to detail.
Jeff Walling, Co-Owner, ABM Equipment
Drying is one of the cannabis/hemp industry’s most critical processing challenges to date. Lack of precision control of the dryer leads to uneven moisture content, or worse, burnt product with low CBD or THC yields. Various approaches using extreme temperature flash drying units have met with mixed results in the industry.
At the core of the integrated processing line, Hempstead Farms selected the Kason Biomass Drying System, a field-proven solution for extraction biomass based on a patent-pending, 2-stage circular fluid-bed technology. The system is flexible, capable of drying from 800 to 8000 lbs/hr per unit. Because it retains more desirables and consumes less energy than previous technologies, it’s becoming the go to solution for mobile-drying service providers and toll processors.
It’s able to retain more CBD & THC than its tumbling predecessors by using heat as an evaporation accelerant rather than driver. As an added benefit, the bulk of any lost trichomes and other volatiles are captured and returned on batch-by-batch bases instead of accumulating on equipment or escaping into the environment.
This solution is similar to but distinct from belt dryers in that it pushes air upward through the product and fluidizes it with vibration. This suspends the hemp like ping-pong balls over air-streams, increasing the surface area being exposed to dry air per system CFM. Belt dryers primarily use airflow as well but pull it from above via vacuum, creating localized air streams and leaving wet spots.
Kason applied for a patent last year on the system’s 2-stage drying methodology. Rather than using extreme heating, which discolors and degrades the hemp product itself, the patent outlines use of the fluid bed dryer that eliminates common problems of burning of cannabis with other drum- or tumbler-based systems. The integrated system provides biomass output at a consistent 4-12% moisture content for safe, year-round storage, retaining a beautiful green product color and the original hemp smell consumers prefer. The process has already been proven in the field with customers at high volumes of up to 8,000 pounds per hour of biomass per unit.
The ABM-Kason solution includes:
- Conveyance via chain-disks or belt, bucket, or screw conveyors
- Particle Size Reduction via shredders; consistent particle size provides the ability to use a fluid bed dryer to achieve consistent, thoroughly-dried product.
- Drying with Kason’s VIBRO-BED Fluid Bed Dryer. The Fluid Bed Dryer creates a fluid bed of particles and uses low heat to evaporate moisture, ensuring consistent product.
- Sorting with Kason’s Centri-Sifter. The high-throughput centrifugal sifter separates flower from stalks and stems, so that the active materials can be stored and the fibrous material can go to secondary markets.
- Packaging with bulk bag fillers. Packing is fully integrated into the continuous process, avoiding spillage or any type of loss of output from the sifter, and ensuring safe storage of the dried product for year-round preservation.
About ABM Equipment
ABM provides equipment and system design and integration for processing industries including biomass, food, packaging, and other consumer-facing products. ABM creates value by identifying proper equipment and tailoring it to its unique purpose. ABMs in-house engineering, drafting, fabrication, installation, and factory-trained service technicians are committed to creating systems that work every time for every client. Their motto is to trust first, leave last, and always put solutions over ego. Their policy is to never let a client down, ever.
About Kason Corporation
Kason is a leading global manufacturer of a wide selection of screening and processing equipment, from standard, off-the-shelf machines to highly sophisticated and customized systems. Whether you are separating solid particles from solids or liquids, or drying/cooling/moisturizing bulk materials of any kind, Kason has already solved an application problem precisely like yours, or can readily modify an existing design to fit your unique requirements with top efficiency at low cost.
Kason’s product solutions include VIBROSCREEN circular vibratory screeners and separators, CENTRI-SIFTER centrifugal sifters and separators, VIBRO-BED circular vibratory fluid bed dryers, coolers, and moisturizers, and CROSS-FLO static sieve screeners and separators. All Kason equipment is available in finishes that meet 3-A, FDA, BISSC and/or other US and international standards required in the food, dairy and pharmaceutical industries.
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