Passive vs Active Solvent Recovery: Pros and Cons


Precision Team


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    When it comes to solvent based cannabinoid extraction, you have two primary options to recover that solvent — passive solvent recovery and active solvent recovery.

    These two options are incredibly similar in their general approach, but there are key differences between the two that might make all the difference in your operation. Read on to learn more about passive solvent recovery vs active solvent recovery!

    Passive Solvent Recovery vs Active Solvent Recovery

    Both passive and active solvent recovery collect butane that was used in the extraction process — the difference between the two occurs in how that butane is collected.

    Passive solvent recovery utilizes heating and cooling to evaporate and condense the butane and separate it from the extract.

    In contrast, active solvent recovery requires a gas compressor which aids in the transfer of gaseous phase solvents.

    Passive Solvent Recovery


    • Easy to Operate

    Passive solvent recovery operations are great for beginner operations, as they are relatively easy to operate and require low maintenance over time. Because the process is simplistic and utilizes dry ice or a single chiller, it doesn’t have as many parts requiring maintenance as opposed to an active solvent recovery operation.

    • Low Start-Up Costs

    In addition, passive solvent recovery costs less initially than active solvent recovery technology! Its low start-up cost makes it a great option for businesses that are looking to get up off the ground quickly and affordably — while still providing effective solvent recovery.


    • Can Be More Laborious

    While passive solvent recovery is effective in its purpose, it can require considerably more labor in the form of transporting and handling large amounts of dry ice. Machine parameters also need to be monitored closely during the passive recovery process as these pressure and temperature differentials are the driving mechanism behind passive solvent recovery.

    Active Solvent Recovery


    • Efficient

    Active solvent recovery is an efficient method of recovering butane. It recovers a larger amount of solvent in an easier fashion than other methods and allows for a more “repeatable” procedure when strict adherence to company SOPs is required.

    • Easily Scalable

    Because of its efficiency, ease of use, and smaller cooling demand, active solvent recovery is also a more scalable option. If you are looking to expand your operation down the line, it might be worth investing in active solvent recovery technology for the aforementioned reasons above as well as less consumable costs (i.e., dry ice/electricity) per fiscal year.


    • Potential Repairs

    It’s worth noting that active solvent recovery does potentially require more repairs than passive solvent recovery. The addition of the pump increases the efficiency of the process, but it also inserts another part that could break down the line. As with all laboratory instruments and equipment, periodic maintenance will greatly increase the lifespan and reliability of your equipment.

    • Higher Up-Front Costs

    Active solvent recovery, because of its additional pump, requires a higher up-front cost than passive solvent recovery operations. Smaller operations that are working on a tight budget might not be able to afford this option at first, despite its many benefits.

    Where To Buy Solvent Recovery Equipment?

    Whether you choose to go with passive or active solvent recovery as your preferred recovery method, Precision has the equipment, training, and support you need.

    Unsure as to which method might be best suited for you? Contact us today for a solution that will help you meet your operational goals.

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