Why United Bio Freeze switched from traditional drying methods to flash freezing their hemp harvest. By Author- Tim Lebrecht- Industry Manager, Air Products

{Sponsored} United Bio Freeze LLC (UBF) located in Stayton, Oregon is an innovative industrial hemp company with offerings including commercial drying, extraction and consulting. In this fast-growing industry, UBF was searching for an innovative approach to speed up the hemp drying time as well as maximize retention of valuable CBD oils and other chemical components to provide their clients with the highest quality product. United Bio Freeze (UBF) has been growing and harvesting hemp since 2018.

Problem: After several harvests they quickly realized that the labor-intensive drying and storage process after harvesting hemp was costing them valuable time, quality and yield of product, and ultimately loss of profit. Talking with fellow hemp growers in the region, they found this was a common challenge. Each was struggling with process inefficiencies due to mold or aerial contamination resulting in crop loss.

Air Products’ Freshline® flash freezing technology
Air Products’ Freshline® flash freezing technology

Solution: To solve the issue, UBF contacted Air Products, a leader in the field of cryogenic freezing technology and industrial gas supply for the food, nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries. Kellan Goertemiller, co-owner, and chief technologist at UBF called in Air Products applications engineering team to thoroughly assess the facility’s hemp operation. The recommendation: Flash freezing with cryogenic liquid nitrogen to quickly freeze fresh hemp straight from UBF’s growing fields. This would avoid the laborious, time-consuming drying process and potential loss of the hemp’s valuable chemical compounds. The process was easy to execute with little capital expenditures. When stored in cold storage after flash freezing, the hemp’s delicate trichomes remain intact and its strong odor is minimized thus preventing complaints or issues from nearby occupants.

Goertemiller reported that “With traditional hang drying methods, on averagewe have seen 2-4% loss due to all the handling that occurs both to hang the hemp and later removing it to strip and bag. Big losses also occur handling it after it’s dry. Heated drying would be orders of magnitude more in losses. Additionally, the biomass continues to degrade over time if processing is delayed or as material is drying to a suitable moisture level for storage.”

Freshline IQ Tunnel Freezer, Courtesy of Air Products
Freshline IQ Tunnel Freezer, Courtesy of Air Products

With flash freezing, the speed and minimized handling of the material has provided an advantage for their end product and the overall efficiency of their hemp operation. Geortemiller found clear advantages of flash freezing vs. standard drying stating “the flash frozen hemp can be removed from storage and is ready for extraction by any lab or processor with the ability to later remove water from finished concentrate. Typically, this is completed at the lab level using rotary vaps or falling film to remove any water.”

Conclusion: Freezing industrial hemp using a cryogenic liquid-nitrogen system offered a cost-effective, faster alternative to traditional methods of drying and storing. Plus it retained more of the valuable cannabinoid compounds in the hemp product.

Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.
1940 Air Products Boulevard
Allentown, PA 18106

  Join us on social media!