In the fast-growing industrial hemp market, industrial gases can play an important role in growing, harvesting, processing, extraction and packaging.

Air Products is collaborating with a professor at the University of Virginia on research studying the benefits of cryogenic freezing on cannabinoids found in industrial help, from the time of harvest through extraction and final processing.

The US industrial gas giant said there are several ways industrial gases and freezing can help, including:

  • Harvesting – Flash freezing freshly-harvested industrial hemp with liquid nitrogen prior to storage in an Air Products Freshline® IQ Freezer can help prevent biomass degradation or mold while locking in the chemical content.
  • Processing – During the biomass material preparation process, adding liquid nitrogen to the mill when grinding can eliminate heat and subsequent oil stickiness that causes machine clogging and downtime. Pre-cooling biomass prior to entering extraction using a PolarFit® Cryogenic Cooling Conveyor provides an ideal means of temperature control.
  • Extraction – For ethanol extraction, the ultracold properties of liquid nitrogen can be used to achieve and maintain temperatures in the less than -80⁰C range as a cost effective and efficient means of precise extraction.
  • Packaging – Dosing the final product with a small amount of liquid nitrogen can serve as a protective layer from oxidation or moisture, effectively blanketing the oils and enhancing quality and shelf-life.
  • Inerting/Blanketing – When working with flammable materials or to keep cannabidiol (CBD) product fresh, using a nitrogen blanketing system is a best practice for safety and quality. Keeping oils free from moisture and oxygen via nitrogen blanketing can also extend shelf-life.

With cryogenics laboratories located in the US, Europe and Asia, Air Products said it can test a customer’s product on commercial-scale equipment to determine the feasibility of using cryogenic freezing or chilling for their specific process.

The company will share its industry knowledge in this year’s virtual Pennsylvania Hemp Summit today (8th Dec) and tomorrow (9th Dec).

Michael Himes, of Air Products’ Merchant Research and Development team, and Timothy Lebrecht, Air Products’ Industry Manager - Chemical Process Industries and Cryogenics, will take part in a panel discussion on ‘Exploring Emerging Technologies, Research and Product Development Opportunities’.

“Our experience and advanced cryogenic technology have provided gamechanging solutions for those in the biotech and food industries, and we look forward to collaborating with those in the industrial hemp* industry to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their processes,” said Lebrecht.

*Air Products will only sell to customers in the industrial hemp market who can show compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations.