Marijuana Business Magazine March 2019

March 2019 | 107 cannabis is legal—and eventually in the United States will implement stiff regulations covering a variety of areas. “Regulations are going to be hugely increased,” Sherlock said. The regulations are expected to concern both the equipment itself and product safety. Sherlock said that extracts, for example, will be sub- ject to testing for pesticides, heavy metals and/or other pathogens. Further, meeting North American standards will not necessarily satisfy those required by European cannabis markets. “When we look at our expansion into Europe, the European Union consultants, who are now coming to look at Canadian operations … have a much more detailed list of questions,” Sherlock said. “They want to know about data collection. They want to know about certifications.” “Regulations are going to be hugely increased, because the Europeans are going to demand it if you want to export product from Canada into a medical market in Europe.” Oil and Gas Expertise Initially, Vitalis’ quest to design a reli- able, industrial-size CO2 pump led the company to consult laboratory equip- ment manufacturers for help. How- ever, it encountered only obstacles. “I would receive pushback on how challenging it would be to make a vessel at (high) pressure and (large) sizes,” Sherlock recalled. “They were like, ‘Oh, there’s dimensional-pressure issues. I don’t know how to make a cap that big. The clamps would be incredibly massive.’” It wasn’t until Vitalis consulted oil and gas industry engineers that it found a solution. Oil and gas “engineers come out of a world where it’s a hyper-regulated market, and they make extractors with tons of capacity, pressure vessels rated to 35,000 psi, etc.,” Sherlock said. They design “large industrial equipment that is outdoors in the rugged cold or blistering heat, and it needs to perform 24/7.” The oil and gas engineers the company ultimately hired, for example, were able to build a durable pump that operates continuously and a system that can be scaled to any size or pressure clients require. “Nothing was too big or too complicated for them,” Sherlock said, referring to the 5,000-pounds-per- square-inch, 100-liter (vessel capacity) system the engineers initially designed for Vitalis. The company currently manufactures systems with vessel capacities of up to 200 liters and has designed an up-to-2,000-liter system for future launch. Engineered for maximum flow rates and highly efficient cold separation, the pump system is also certified by: • The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) to the same boiler and pressure vessel code that serves as the governing standard in the oil and gas industry. • The Canadian Standards Association (CSA), as well as each province’s regulatory requirements. While the investment is costly and time consuming, Vitalis expects it to pay off in the long run, because obtaining such certifications both ensures equipment safety and gives clients a competitive advantage. “If you had bought a Vitalis and your competitor had bought an X, Y or Z, and all of a sudden they got shut down (but) you were allowed to continue running, that’s a long-term benefit,” Sherlock said. Going Modular Certifications aren’t the only concern when it comes to equipment lifespan. As an extractor’s business grows and/ or product and processing require- ments change, equipment upgrades become necessary. Moreover, Vitalis Vitalis Extraction Technology set out to design an improved carbon dioxide (CO2) pump for cannabis extraction companies a few years ago. In addition to improving upon existing technology, the British Columbia company wanted to ensure its pump system would comply with future federal health and safety regulations across North America as well as those already in effect in Europe. Vitalis’ business strategy relied on the following: • Extensive field research, which involved talking with cannabis ex- traction companies in Canada and the United States. • Oil and gas industry engineering expertise to ensure the pump sys- tem would comply with the toughest standards in the industry. • Advanced component certification. • A modular pump system to ensure the technology could be readily and cheaply adapted simply by adding or removing sections. • In-house manufacturing, which makes it easier to ensure ongoing innovations in the pump system and to send clients spare parts. Joel Sherlock Courtesy Photo