Behind the Tech: Precision Extraction

Michigan-based company thrives by offering end-to-end solutions for cannabis producers

Precision Extraction Solutions has been in a constant state of developing, refining and reimagining its technology since 2014, when the company introduced its first version of the PX1 hydrocarbon extractor, a model that is still in production today.

“You can almost think of it like smartphones or computers,” says Nick Tennant, Precision’s founder and chief technology officer. “Maybe not quite that rapid, but it’s a highly technologically dynamic industry.”

Precision has grown from three people working out of a small, Michigan warehouse in 2014 to being one of the leading equipment providers in the industry, supplying cannabis companies with not just extraction and distillation equipment, but also design, consulting and training services. The company now has 63 employees and thousands of installations to its credit.

“The point is to provide a one-stop, end-to-end solution to our client base, and that has made us extremely successful,” Tennant says. “We’re not walking away from your equipment until your process is running exactly as it should.”

In addition to the company’s flagship hydrocarbon systems, Precision began manufacturing ethanol extraction equipment a couple years ago, providing machines for small and mid-size producers all the way up to the largest marijuana and hemp farms in the country, with its scalable, continuous-feed KPD series.

The company’s latest innovations are its patent-pending T-SEP and L-SEP processes.

T-SEP (short for THC separation) is Precision’s proprietary method for extracting THC from crude hemp extract, so CBD manufacturers can have a cost-effective way of producing CBD with less than the legal limit of 0.3% THC.

According to Tennant, the traditional processes for remediating THC from CBD oil cost about $400 per liter. The T-SEP process can remediate 70 liters of crude oil per day at a cost of about $3.50 per liter. Tennant says the T-SEP is about 100 times more efficient than current technologies, making the process “extremely disruptive” in the burgeoning market.

L-SEP (short for lipid separation) is a similar concept for instantly removing lipids and waxes from cannabis extract at room temperature, a technology Tennant says can save producers an entire day of winterization.

“Before, you’d have to take the crude oil mixed with solvent and cool it down to negative-40 degrees for anywhere between six to 24 hours to enable those lipids to crystallize,” Tennant says.

Although the industry is steadily becoming more commercialized, Tennant believes there is room for a wide range of companies, both big and small. He expects the industry will see increased regulations and standards, “but just because it’s regulated in terms of production practices doesn’t mean that it’s going to vaporize the opportunity or the mom-and-pop type of business.”

In fact, Tennant sees a bright future for micro-businesses and craft producers.

“People love artisanal products,” he says. “When you go to Whole Foods and you’re looking at 13 different types of popcorn on the shelf, I’m not sure what you like, but me, in particular, I like the Michigan-grown, organic, seasoned with their special recipe, non-GMO — and that’s what I buy. And that’s an artisanal product. When you look at another parallel industry you could analyze, like alcohol and wine, you have the Kendall Jacksons of the world, but the majority of the wine industry is artisanal.”

And the cannabis industry’s room for growth is tremendous, he says, particularly when taking into account the global market’s rapid expansion throughout North and South America, as well as the European Union.

“If you think about how massive that market is from a retail and consumer standpoint,” he says, “if you’re at a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent in your state, you’ve done a pretty damn good business. I mean, you’re doing anywhere from a couple million to potentially an eight-figure business per year. I think that as long as you stick to your guns and run an efficient business, there’s a lot of money to be made in this industry.”

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