Butane Extraction Safety: How to Keep Yourself Safe in the Lab
Butane extraction is a process that involves the use of a highly flammable gas. It can be dangerous if not done properly, so it is important to know what risks are present and how to mitigate them. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the most common risks associated with butane extraction and how to reduce them.
The biggest risk that comes from operating hydrocarbon extractors is butane or propane escaping the closed loop extractor. A closed loop extraction systems means that nothing comes in or out of the system while in operation. Escaping butane or propane poses a big risk as the solvents in their gaseous state are extremely flammable which poses a risk of fire or explosion.
If for any reason there becomes a leak in the closed loop system, the solvent will escape extremely fast, and is very hard to stop. Since butane has a boiling point of 0°C, when the solvent is not under pressure, it will transfer phase from liquid to gas. When butane transfers phase from liquid to gas, it will expand over 240 times in volume.
As you can imagine, this will fill an extraction lab extremely quick and becomes an instant danger to the lab operators and the building itself. To top it all off, the lower explosive limit, or LEL, is 1.86%. This means a concentration level of under 2% of a room (butane to 98% oxygen) can cause an explosion.
This is something that all processors should know before operating extraction equipment. These numbers are soberingly real, and are the reason that EVERY extraction lab should take equipment, operations, and safety standards extremely seriously. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways that leaks in closed loop extractors can happen, and more importantly how these risks can be mitigated.
Failed Gaskets / Loose High-Pressure Tri-Clamp Connections
Failed gaskets or loose high-pressure tri-clamp connections are one of the most common risks associated with butane extraction. When pressure builds up in a closed loop system, even a small leak can cause catastrophic damage if it is not immediately detected and addressed. As such, it is important to ensure that all gaskets are correctly fitted and that all high pressure tri-clamp connections are tightened securely before beginning work. It is also important to regularly inspect these components throughout the process, as even small changes in temperature or pressure can affect their performance over time.
To avoid this risk, it is essential to use only high quality gaskets that are specifically designed for hydrocarbon applications. Additionally, all tri-clamps connections and hose connections should be inspected regularly for signs of wear and tear and any loose fittings should be tightened immediately. Every cannabis extraction company should have a procedure for inspection prior to operating their hydrocarbon extractors.
Gas Leaks and Exposure Hazards
Gas leaks pose both safety and environmental hazards during butane extraction due to their flammable nature. If they are not immediately detected and addressed, they can lead to fires or explosions. In addition, gas leaks can cause health problems if workers are exposed to them over long periods of time due to their noxious fumes.
To reduce this risk, it is important to use only approved equipment for handling gases during butane extraction processes, as well as proper protective gear when working in a butane extraction lab, or handling solvents like butane or propane. Additionally, regular inspections should be performed on all components of the system in order to detect any potential gas leaks before they become serious issues.
Means of Prevention:
Certified Equipment –
One of the most important things when operating a safe extraction lab is the equipment itself. When shopping for hydrocarbon extractors, there can be a large variance in equipment. Most of the difference in pricing, relates to certifications of equipment. Pressure vessels should always be certified by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). Extractors should also be C1D1 compliant, and meet the standards of the International Fire Code (IFC) and the International Code Council (ICC).
C1D1 Enclosure –
A component of any compliant extraction lab is a C1D1. C1D1 stands for Class 1 Division 1 and is a technical building code requirement. This classification is established by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). C1D1 booths are explosion proof environments that house hazardous processes that relate to industrial spaces containing flammable and combustible vapors, liquids, gases or combustible dusts or fibers. C1D1 booths are outfitted with gas detection sensors, monitors, emergency power cut offs, recirculating fans, and emergency purge fans. For more information on C1D1s, check out our blog, our reach out to us today.
Safety Protocols / SOPs –
Another way to maintain a safe environment when performing hydrocarbon extraction is to have a very clear, concise set of Standard Operating Procedures, as well as safety protocols such as daily inspections and emergency plans. H&H Extraction Solutions’ team of experts can help you when putting together a sophisticated and safe extraction facility.
Butane extraction can be a dangerous process if not done correctly; however, by using certified hydrocarbon extractors, following proper safety protocols, and containing the extraction process to a certified C1D1 lab, operators can greatly reduce their risks while still being able to safely perform their work tasks. So keep these tips in mind when performing butane extractions – it could save you a lot of time, and money, in the long run! If you’re looking for professional consulting to set up or expand an extraction lab – reach out to us today!