Casia Lanier   |   September 08, 2022

How Nanotechnology Is Leading Cannabis into a New Era

Nanotechnology, more specifically nanoemulsion, is taking the cannabis industry by storm. What’s the science behind this technology, and how can companies incorporate it into their manufacturing process?
Casia is a freelance writer based in NYC and Madrid. She is passionate about promoting emerging scientific and technological advancements in cannabis for a healthier future.

Nanotechnology is a term used in science and engineering where technology dimensions and tolerances of less than 100 nanometers are employed to design, construct, and manipulate individual atoms and molecules. In the cannabis industry, the most relevant and applicable form of this technology is hydrosoluble nanoemulsion, which is when microscopic molecules of cannabinoids are encapsulated in a bound-together mixture of water and oil. Although the science behind this technology can be somewhat daunting to grasp and even more so to execute, it opens new doors to increasingly functional cannabis products, much like over-the-counter medicine.

Nano-Emulsion - A CLOSER LOOK AT SCIENCE

Nanoemulsion technology was first used in the pharmaceutical industry as an advanced mode of delivery because it increases the bioavailability of various drugs. The technology can be extended to cannabis compounds in the same way. Cannabis is composed of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids which can be converted into emulsified nanoparticles, such as nano-emulsified CBD and THC.

When cannabinoids are broken down into smaller particles, they are reassembled with an additional layer of fat to form a lipid nanoformulation (LNP). The combination of water and oil-packaged molecules allows the cannabinoid to remain protected from degradation while traveling through the digestive system.

For cannabis producers, nanotechnology would reduce the amount of cannabis needed for each product because the nanoparticles produced through the emulsification process can deliver the same or better quantity of CBD and THC and improve effects for a smaller initial quantity of raw product, ultimately saving money on manufacturing costs. These savings would allow brands to allocate budget focus on fresh, well-resourced, high-quality ingredients and develop edible food products into which these nano cannabinoids could be integrated.

And, because of the technology’s smaller size and protective layer, the cannabinoids can more easily bypass the liver and produce a much more immediate effect when ingested and interacting with body receptors, delivering a similar experience to smoking dry marijuana or cannabis vapors.

Nano TECHNOLOGY FOR NOW

Oil, an emulsifier, and water are the main ingredients for creating nanoemulsions. The good news for manufacturers is that several techniques have been developed to create nanoemulsions. These are generally characterized by two primary methods: persuasion and brute force, which are divided into distinct processes.

Ultrasonic - Ultrasonic nano emulsification uses sound waves to move molecules very quickly via mechanical vibrations, causing the oil droplets to break down and become evenly dispersed among the liquid to produce emulsion droplet sizes of as low as 0.2 micrometers.

High-pressure Homogenization - Among the most widely used nano emulsification methods, high-pressure homogenization is a high-energy method where a significant amount of pressure is applied to the particles, then the very same chamber in which the pressure was applied is quickly depressurized, forcing particles to break apart.

Micro fluidization - Micro fluidization Is perhaps the most efficient yet complex method of nanoemulsion formation. It requires a high-pressure static mixer, several reservoirs, and a precise time and energy management system that must be altered throughout each step of the process.

Phase inversion- Phase inversion is a remarkably sophisticated condensation method involving self-emulsifying temperatures or compositions. A chemical reaction produces energy, ultimately changing the solubility of the surfactants.

The processes for creating nanoemulsion cannabis compound inputs can be overwhelming for a new brand or cannabis business thinking about incorporating these varying methods into their products. But this technology creates opportunities for manufacturers and producers, offering them premium-priced incentives to learn and manage the technology’s process methods. The middleman between growers and brands or dispensaries can find a comfortable place in the nanoemulsion niche as end-consumer demand ramps up.

But what about those wondering why they should even invest in nanoemulsion technology?

Other than offering a more compelling user experience and being more fast-acting, nanoparticles can also be more easily absorbed by the skin. Nanoemulsions have aesthetically pleasing characteristics among customers, including favorable texture and penetration. This makes nanoemulsions ideal for skincare products or prepared edibles, like gummies, cakes, and puddings.

Nanoemulsions also make it much easier to dose according to state regulations for 5 mg per product unit and, therefore, easier to manufacture cannabinoid-infused beverages due to the preservation effects supplied by the protective lipid layer, making them water-soluble. A recent report found that CBD nanoemulsions remain stable for more than a year, widening sales and shipping prospects.

But competition in this sector of the cannabis industry is not necessarily friendly. Companies like Cannabis Global and Avicann have even filed their own patents to protect their proprietary nano cannabinoid processes. However, the resources and time required to produce nanoemulsions will likely see their labor pay off with high-quality products from medicine to cosmetics to edibles.

 

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