Folium Biosciences, based in Colorado Springs, has announced the completion of a new 110,000-sq-ft facility in Pueblo West. The town is a suburb of Pueblo, CO, which is about 45 miles south of Colorado Springs.
Colorado’s growing heavyweight status
Folium’s new plant will join companies such as Mile High Labs, Vantage Hemp and Ecogen in helping to make Colorado a CBD production powerhouse. Colorado came early to the hemp/CBD party with the passage a ballot initiative for full recreational use of the plant in 2012. The industry is actively supported by Colorado’s Gov. Jared Polis, who was prominent member of the Dietary Supplement Caucus during his time in the US House representing the state’s 2nd Congressional District.
Custom formulations for different markets
Folium claims that when fully up to speed the new facility will be the world’s largest producer of CBD ingredients via supercritical CO2 extraction. The plant will have a monthly capacity of 22,000 kg (164,000 kg on an annual basis) of broad spectrum CBD oil each month that will contain 0% THC.
Because the international regulatory picture for these ingredients is so variegated and is still developing, Folium CEO Kashif Shan said the plant is designed to accommodate a variety of specifications. Those include specs laid down by regulators in markets such as the United States, the EU, the UK, Japan, South Korea and others.
Shan said the construction of the plant buildings is finished, the equipment has been installed and the requisite permits and licenses are in place. The important final step is the intake calibration of the equipment, and there the travel disruptions and restrictions caused by the global pandemic have thrown a bit of a wrench into the works.
“Our last challenge is that our equipment was fabricated in Europe,” Shan said. “The engineers need to come over to do the final calibration of their equipment.”
Massive CO2 column allows capture of terpenes, specific cannabinoids
Shan said one of the innovations in the new plant is the ability to capture the full suite of terpenes present in the industrial hemp during the decarboxylation process. After the initial rush to market with CBD-only products, experts have started to observe that the other fractions of the plant, such as the highly volatile terpenes, might have important health properties, too, and might contribute to the entourage effect of the botanical.
“Our new process allows us to capture the terpenes up front and reintroduce them later in the process,” Shan told NutraIngredients-USA.
“We have a 60-foot-long CO2 column that will allow us to separate all of the terpenes and all of the cannabinoids to create unique profiles according to customer requirements,” Shan said.
Folium advertises that its works with raw material that is a ‘phytocannabinoid rich’ strain of hemp. The company has been working with a grower called Diamond A Farms, which has 5,000 acres of hemp under cultivation in Colorado’s Arkansas River Valley, a noted farming district. The company also grows hemp in Kentucky.
Folium has already been producing products at a smaller scale at a facility in Colorado Springs. The profits from that operation are funding the new facility, Shan said.
AHPA Hemp-CBD Supplements Congress
The American Herbal Products Association, which has had a Cannabis Committee for a number of years, held its annual Hemp-CBD Supplements Congress in Denver last year, where Gov. Polis delivered the keynote address. This year’s congress will be held as a virtual event and is scheduled for August 27. For more information on the event, see the event website.