Hemp takes on growing importance for German extractor

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[This is the second in a series of interviews with industry leaders who operate in non-hemp-specific sectors but who have incorporated hemp into their businesses.]

Andreas Wuzik is Plant Manager at NATECO2, one of Europe’s pioneers in supercritical C02-based extraction. The company, based in Wolnzach, Germany, is a leader in innovation in the extraction sector, and constantly refines its technology and methods for the production of high-quality essences and raffinates.

HempToday: Tell us what comes out of your extraction facility.
Andreas Wuzik: We act as a contract manufacturing organization in this field. We provide ingredients or intermediates, liquids and powders, that are then further processed to be used in a wide range of products for our customers. We use our technology to mainly extract hemp and hops; hops for our shareholders and hemp mainly for cannabinoids, with a focus on CBD fractions.

HT: What kind of volumes are we talking about?
AW: We can turn out large volumes but we also have R&D scale extraction units through which we carry out feasibility studies based on smaller amounts of material. This lets us see whether we can indeed make extracts from the base material or not. Then we can scale-up these trials to produce volumes up to several thousand tons a year.

HT: How important hemp in your portfolio?
AW: We started extracting from hemp about seven years ago, and now it’s actually the second largest product in our portfolio.

HT: And how do you see hemp impacting your business going forward?
AW: I would say in the future that hemp is certain to go beyond being a trend, and become a long-term sustainable part of our business.

HT: Tell us about extraction technology generally. It’s been around for quite a while, hasn’t it?
AW: Extraction technology itself is more than 30 years old, developed in the beginning for coffee decaffeination. We adopted this technology to extract fats, waxes and oils. This is where C02 works very well, especially when the amounts of ingredients to be extracted are less than 10 percent of the original input material. For sure the technology constantly undergoes slight changes, and we are quite innovative in this area; this lets us provide interesting products for our customers.

HT: As you’ve focused on C02 extraction, how do you compare that with, say, alcohol-based extraction?
AW: Alcohol extraction has other advantages; it extracts more polar fractions, for example. The C02-based process is more for the oily stuff, the waxes and so on. I would say each of these technologies has its advantages. It’s always up to the customer to decide which technology is best for that material he wants at the end.

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