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Ultrasonication

Introduction

The discovery of ultrasound is rooted in the science of sound, with Sir Isaac Newton first proposing his theory of sound waves in Principia (1686). Ultrasound is simply a sound wave that operates above the range of human hearing. From a cannabis perspective, it is a mechanical process that generates liquid mixing and shear forces on a micro or nanoscale. Current research and development efforts by Le Herbe have demonstrated that ultrasound is the future of cannabis processing, preservation and extraction operations. The information shared here is meant to spur innovation in our industry. We feel that private funding is the best option for producing high-quality cannabis research that leads to better products for everyone.

Ultrasonication Offers Cannabis Companies Several Advantages

Growing consumer demands for eco-friendly alternatives and all-natural ingredients has attracted Le Herbe to develop this clean green technology for the cannabis industry. Ultrasonication or simply sonication offers several advantages, including, but not limited to:

  • Green Technology
  • Higher Yields
  • Speed and Versatility
  • Low Investment
  • Easy to Operate, Clean and Maintain
  • Green Chemistry
  • Preservation of Bioactivity
  • Solventless Techniques
  • Enhancement of Bioavailability
  • Significant Energy Savings

Uses of Ultrasonication in the Cannabis Industry

Emulsifying cannabis oil is a process of dispersing one immiscible liquid into another liquid using high shear energy and is generally one of the most important operations in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food and beverage industries. Le Herbe produces translucent/transparent nanoemulsions that have over 1 year shelf life with minimal cannabinoid degradation.

Ultrasound assisted extraction (UAE) for cannabis is a novel clean green extraction technology for the numerous bioactive compounds (540 +) in Cannabis Sativa L., including cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids. Le Herbe has successfully replaced the long and laborious solvent based extraction systems (i.e., BHO, SC-CO2, Distillation) using an ultrafast ultrasonication extraction (UUE) process that leads to effective extraction of bioactive constituents using water as the solvent.

Sonication can transform the ∆⁹-THC-acid naturally present in Cannabis Sativa L. into the psychoactive ∆⁹-THC (i.e., Thermo-Ultrasonication). The highest yield of ∆⁹-THC was obtained at 110 °C and 110 min.

Sonication is a fast and efficient sample prep method for THC / CBD analysis, including, but not limited to, Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC), Gas Chromatography (GC), and High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). This can be done either using an ultrasonic bath or a probe. While the vessel container is immersed in an ultrasonic bath, an ultrasonic probe is immersed directly into the sample container. This is the main difference between the ultrasonic systems. The second difference is that the ultrasonic probe can deliver much higher ultrasonication intensity than the ultrasonic bath (100 times greater).

Le Herbe has achieved more than a 5 log reduction using mano-thermo-sonication for cannabis beverage manufacturing. We have conclusively established the usefulness of ultrasound for maintaining microbiological safety of beverages with enhanced shelf life and excellent quality characteristics, per the US Food and Drug Administration’s requirement.

Ultrasound is well known as an effective way of dispersing cannabis nanoparticles homogeneously in suspensions in comparison to other dispersion techniques.

Types of Ultrasonic Applications for Cannabis

Low Intensity

Low-intensity approaches use small amplitude (intensities of less than 1 W cm⁻²) ultrasonic waves at high frequency (>1 MHz) that do not damage the material through which they propagate. It can be used in non-destructive analytical measurements and monitoring of composition and physicochemical properties of cannabis edibles and beverages during processing and storage for quality control purposes.

High Intensity

High-intensity applications (also known as power ultrasound) use larger amplitude (intensities higher than 1 W cm⁻²) ultrasonic waves and can alter the physicochemical properties or structure of cannabis material. Power ultrasound typically uses acoustic frequencies between 20 and 100 kHz and is useful in invasive applications, which gives impact to physical, chemical and biological properties of cannabis beverages and edible processing, preservation and safety. Although we are not going to review the extended power range (300 to 500 kHz), it is used to generate chemical reactions in a field referred to as sonochemistry.

How it Works?

When ultrasound propagates through any medium, it induces a series of compression and rarefaction in the molecules of the medium. Such alternating pressure changes cause the formation and the collapse of bubbles in a liquid medium. This phenomenon of creation, expansion, and implosive collapse of microbubbles in ultrasound-irradiated liquids is known as “acoustic cavitation”. The ability of ultrasound to cause cavitation depends upon its characteristics (e.g., frequency and intensity), medium properties (e.g., viscosity and surface tension) and ambient conditions (e.g., temperature and pressure). Various physical and chemical phenomena including agitation, vibration, pressure, shock waves, shear forces, microjets, compression and rarefaction, acoustic streaming, cavitation, and radical formation are responsible for ultrasonic effect.

Ultrasonic Cannabis

Conclusions

During the last decade we have witnessed an amazing increase in the application of ultrasonic energy in analytical chemistry and food science. As the uses of ultrasonication become increasingly important in development of functional food ingredients so to has the importance of the type of ultrasonic devices. Not all devices perform equally and neither are all intended for the same applications. Although recent studies prove their superiority over conventional products, further data is needed in terms of cannabis efficacy, microorganisms, food enzymes, and food components (proteins, carbohydrates, cannabinoids, nutrients, etc.). Because of current regulations and red tape, imagine if private cannabis companies shared R&D, we invite you to join in on endless possibilities.

QSonica
Kimble Chase