Preparative HPLC for the Hemp Industry

High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is the industry-standard for the separation of cannabinoids from marijuana and hemp in both analytical and preparative settings. It provides the reliability and versatility needed to service emerging markets with extremely strict parameters for success. The rapidly growing hemp market is particularly benefitting from the analytical precision of preparative HPLC, as lucrative markets for the plant and its chemical constituents continue to open worldwide.

In this blog post, Knauer aims to distinguish marijuana from hemp from the perspective of preparative HPLC.

Hemp Industry Overview: Why Preparative HPLC?

Although it has been cultivated around the world for millennia, industrial hemp is currently considered one of the most important agricultural prospects to have emerged in recent decades. This largely comes down to increasingly relaxed cannabis legislation in markets like Canada and the US.

Taxonomically-speaking, hemp is a subspecies of cannabis. They are the same genus of the Cannabaceae family, differing mainly in the concentration of certain psychoactive phytocannabinoids – notably tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Generally speaking, cannabis must have a level of approximately 1% THC by weight to exhibit psychotropic effects on users. Under the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. There is no equivalent upper-limit placed on cannabis, which may contain as much as 20% THC by dry weight. Preparative HPLC has already been cemented as the method of choice for the purification of cannabinoids from cannabis extracts on the legitimate market (beverages, edibles, oils, etc.).

Prior to the repeal of cannabis prohibition in various markets worldwide, hemp was primarily grown as a sustainable raw material for products as varied as cooking oils, printing paper, and textiles. In fact, there are tens of thousands of purported uses of the plant currently known to global manufacturers. One particularly valuable use of hemp is as a feedstock for cannabidiol- (CBD-) rich oils, which are extracted from the plant via carbon dioxide (CO2) or butane extraction. Currently, industrial hemp is the primary source of CBD-rich oils worldwide.

Preparative HPLC is proving instrumental to the extraction and purification process, assisting in the production of extremely high quality, pure CBD extracts. It can assist with the removal of persistent solvents, terpinols, and other cannabinoids from the extract to service an increasingly discerning market. Preparative HPLC could be described as an enabling technology, which could help the booming global CBD oil market top US$2.2 billion by 2025.

Preparative HPLC with Knauer

Knauer is one of Europe’s leading suppliers of preparative HPLC systems for commercial applications, providing the solutions for tomorrow’s industries today. There is no individual method nor tool designed for preparative HPLC of hemp samples, but the relevant literature indicates that more than 90 phytocannabinoids may be present in a single sample. This highlights the need for a robust, industry-tested solution to guarantee high-purity analytes are extracted every time.

At Knauer, we can help you develop a proprietary system for preparative HPLC of a range of challenging samples. If you would like to learn more, simply contact a member of the team today.






Cannabis Purifier

Preparative HPLC system for batch purification of single cannabinoids from cannabis extracts

Preparative HPLC system designed for the development of methods for the purification of individual cannabinoids. Simple and cost effective scale-up of the system for higher throughput. 

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KNAUER does not endorse the use of its products in connection with the illegal use, cultivation or trade of cannabis products. KNAUER does not endorse the illicit use of marijuana, we merely provide an overview of the methods and systems of cannabis analysis.

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