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Breaking the Matrix: Extracting Value from Cannabis and Other Plants

Radient's extraction method could play a huge role in the expansion of the legalized cannabis market.

Image via Radient

Specialized extraction company Radient Technologies (RTI:CA) already knew a thing or two about creating ingredients from biomass to meet the specific needs of its diverse set of clients, some of them large multinational companies with unmet needs. With the ongoing shift in regulations in North America towards legalizing marijuana and a growing emphasis on the medical benefits of cannabis constituents, Radient is leveraging its patented extraction technology to position itself as a valued partner and industry leader.

Medicinal marijuana is currently legal in 27 U.S. states, Washington, D.C. and across Canada. According to Cowen & Co. analysts, the legal cannabis industry in the US alone could reach $50 billion by 2026. Mackie Research Capital Corp. estimates that the Canadian marijuana market will rise to $1.1 billion by 2020, even without the full legalization as promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

The reality is that the industry is still new enough that estimates are just that; they could be too high or too low. What is for sure is that the industry is experiencing an explosion. It also seems a surefire bet that more R&D funds are being allocated to better define the medical benefits of cannabis and standardizing constituents in the same manner that ingredients are today for supplements, cosmetics, food and other industries.

That’s where Radient can play an important role and carve out market share.

The Radient Method

Radient’s proprietary extraction technology, called Microwave Assisted Processing (“MAP”), is trumpeted by Radient as superior to conventional solvent extraction from basically every angle. Legacy methods, which are still used worldwide today, involve using heated solvents to diffuse­­ active ingredients from the biomass, a process that is slow, difficult to modify to tweak the end product and typically result in low extract purity.

MAP™ Demonstration Facility

A newer method, supercritical CO2, works well with lipids, but has shortcomings including requiring expensive pressure vessels, being a non-continuous flow process, requiring long batch extraction times and so having limited scalability and not being applicable to all classes of molecules.

Radient’s MAP™ technology uses microwaves to cause an instant volumetric heating of the continuously-flowing material, enabling precise control of temperature and extraction time, both of which typically affect purity and extract profile. This careful control of extraction parameters is something that would be nearly impossible to achieve at large scale with different techniques. In addition, this volumetric heating ensures that any possible effects associated with excessive heating can be minimized and that all the material is extracted for the same time at the same temperature.

By doing so, extraction time is shaved from hours to minutes, ingredient purity can be greatly improved, and much less solvents and energy are used.

Radient’s Roadmap to Growth

The company backs up its technology with many examples showing it works on every commercially-relevant class of natural products, including lipids, terpenes, proteins and alkaloids, to name a few. Most importantly, Radient’s technology is well beyond the experimental stage. Radient has designed and commissioned a commercial-scale MAPTM extraction facility capable of processing up to 5 tonnes per day of biomass into high-value natural ingredients. The company’s 200 kg/h continuous-flow MAPTM extractor is successfully operating and its performance has been verified for multiple products.

The four key advantages of MAP™ currently serving the needs of Radient clients in the pharmaceutical, personal care and food/nutritional industries – standardization, scalability, performance and cost effectiveness – are a natural fit for the nascent cannabis industry. From its licensed and GMP-approved 20,000-square-foot facility in Edmonton, Canada, Radient intends to employ its MAP™ technology to extract cannabinoids from both marijuana and hemp. More than 100 cannabinoids have been identified, with many the subject of a growing body of evidence as to the medical benefits to safely treat debilitating diseases and conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, Multiple Sclerosis, chronic pain, gastro-intestinal maladies and much more.

However, because cannabis remains tagged as a Schedule I drug in the U.S., clinical research has been limited and most studies are categorized as merely anecdotal, no matter how compelling they may seem.

According to Radient, the company intends to extract and standardize at high throughput the various types of cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis, whether they are originating from hemp or from marijuana. Extracting and standardizing these cannabinoids into different concentrations, should command the attention of cannabinoid-based consumer goods makers and scientists across the industry.

Radient Enters Its Next Phase

With these things in motion, Radient is taking the various required steps to become a commercial licensed producer of medical cannabis oil pursuant to Health Canada’s Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations. The company has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Aurora Cannabis (ACB:TSXV)(ACBFF), one of the largest licensed medical cannabis producers in Canada, to explore a partnership in what could be considered “the ultimate grower meets the ultimate extractor.”

Subsequent to an encouraging first phase of evaluating MAP technology for cannabis extraction, the companies are now conducting preliminary scale-up activities. Aurora has put its money where its mouth is, demonstrating its commitment to the partnership and belief in Radient. Aurora invested $2 million in a Radient convertible debenture related to the MOU and separately is the lead investor in a $6.0 million brokered private placement being conducted by Radient. In the placement, Aurora is investing up to $1.25 million in Radient, bringing its initial investment to up to $3.25 million, with warrants to buy an even larger stake in the company.

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