Intermolecular Forces & Solvents: May All The Right Force(s) Be With You

Intermolecular Forces & Solvents:  May All The Right Force(s) Be With You

You may have seen or participated in the 2018 NCIA-sponsored “Steel Cage Death Match” where the pros and cons of various solvent types were discussed in detail. We were happy, but not surprised, to see that ethanol was the winner!  Curians listened intently and recognized there was a great opportunity to go deep into the science of why ethanol was so superior—and why the market is transforming so radically toward EtOH for concentrates manufacturing.

For both chemists and non-chemists, this whitepaper provides the framework for understanding the role of intermolecular forces and how they impact a solvent’s ability to selectively extract some plant chemicals and leave others behind.  Curious?  Propane and n-butane are very similar, but they extract cannabis differently. Ethanol and other alcohols work, but they also extract more or less undesirables, depending on the alcohol and temperature.  They key differences between these molecules lie in the differences between their van der Waals interactions and hydrogen bonding.  Hydrogen bonding is unique to alcohols amongst the common extraction solvents of choice, giving it unique properties that alkanes and CO2 don’t have.

In this whitepaper from @Photon_Noir, we’ll:

  • Take a tour through the Pauli Exclusion Principle, the electrostatic Keesom Force, the inductive Debye Force, and the dispersive London Force; and
  • Learn the hard science involved in extraction and the differences between van der Waals solvents and solvents that exhibit hydrogen bonding; and
  • Learn the basics of plant physiology that relate to what materials end up in your extract and why; and
  • Learn why ethanol becomes more selective as temperatures decrease; and
  • Learn how resin extraction occurs with solvent; and
  • Understand the considerations and compromises for ethanol alternatives like Isopropanol and N-heptane denatured ethanol

Our whitepaper series creates an opportunity for us to have a dialogue.  To share thoughts, hypotheses, and potential solutions to the challenges and opportunites we face every day.  We invite you share your views, questions, and critiques with us.  We know we’re not the only experts - we appreciate your expertise, ideas, and candor. The responsibility of building the future of this industry lies with all of us together.

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