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How to Stop Medusa: Cortera Gas, X-GAS and the Chemist from Texas

Updated: Dec 3, 2023

Medusa Task Force Update

In our previous blog post, we discussed the challenges of Medusa and Fast Crash reactions in butane extraction and introduced X-Gas also referred to as Perseus Gas by other distributors as a potential solution. Today, we bring you the latest updates on X-Gas from Cortera Gas, its evolution, and how Solvent Direct is expanding its offerings to provide unparalleled transparency and options to our valued clients.

Advancements in Butane Refinement:


In the world of butane extraction, where innovation is fast paced and challenges like fast crash and Medusa stones have plagued extractors, a groundbreaking new refinement process has emerged from the expertise of Rami Rodriguez, the Head Chemist at Cortera Gas in El Campo, Texas. With almost 2 years of research and development, Rodriguez has spearheaded the creation of Medusa and Fast Crash Prevention Gas, a revolutionary new high purity butane designed to eliminate the perplexing issues of fast crash and Medusa stones that have confounded butane extractors around the world.


When Solvent Direct first released this groundbreaking new product X-Gas in which the “X” stood for “experimental” back in January of 2023, there were initial reports of odors and residual fast crash with the product. Since then, Rodriguez and the Cortera Team have completed rigorous experimentation and refinement in El Campo, marking a significant advancement in addressing the complexities of refining butane for Medusa stones and fast crash in extraction by installing 4 new vessels specifically designed to prevent odor and continued fast crash in the gas.

Rodriguez's dedication to unraveling the challenges faced by extractors has led to the development of these innovative solutions, promising a new era of efficiency, purity, and reliability in the extraction process that Solvent Direct now delivers across it’s distribution network.


As we delve into the intricacies of Cortera Gas, we embark on a journey to understand the meticulous approach taken by Rodriguez to target the root causes of fast crash and Medusa stones. With a focus on eliminating specific contaminants and employing cutting-edge chemical reactions, these gases represent a highly engineered and precise solution to the issues that have perplexed the extraction industry over the past few years.


Join us as we explore the science behind Rodriguez's groundbreaking developments, the journey from identification to remediation of contaminants, and the unparalleled benefits that Cortera Gas brings to the forefront of butane extraction. This is not just a technological advancement; it's a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence by a dedicated chemist determined to reshape the butane landscape with Cortera Gas



The Denver Dab Co Story: A Journey of Innovation and Refinement


Back on December 16th, 2022, the promise of a new type of butane specifically filtered for Medusa and fast crash reached the desk of Lexis Shontz, CEO at Solvent Direct. The news revolved around the latest experimental gas from Cortera Gas in El Campo, TX, a potential antidote to the persistent challenges posed by Medusa and Fast Crash. In the urgency of the moment, with extractors in desperate need, Solvent Direct wasted no time. Without the luxury of a comprehensive quality audit and research and development phase, they swiftly filled a bulk tank to begin distributing this experimental Cortera Gas directly into the hands of extractors under the name "X-GAS."


By January of 2023, a Solvent Direct hot shot driver was en route through a snowstorm traversing the rockies, hauling an LP239 of the new experimental Cortera Gas to Denver Dab Co for the Diamonauts class in Evergreen, Colorado. The anticipation was palpable. Some of the most notable names in the industry, led by extractors like Jake Milliken and Tyler Folino-Graham gathered around the Denver Dab Co lab. The aim was clear—to witness the debut of Cortera Gas in action. However, excitement turned to surprise when an unexpected odor, similar to the smell of burnt rubber was presenting in the vessel.


Lexis Shontz recalls, "I was in complete shock. In an effort to take one step forward, we had taken three steps backward. The gas was still fast crashing, but now it had an odor." The initial suspicion was that impurities originated from the system or pump that had been insufficiently cleaned. In response, Rami Rodriguez and Medusa Task Force Chairman Big M, swiftly devised the Solvent Direct System Reset SOP incorporating existing cleaning procedures, aiming for a thorough butane rinse to reset possible impurities lingering in systems from prior gas supply.


Over the subsequent weeks and in collaboration with leading extractors around the country, Solvent Direct and Cortera Gas' Rami Rodriguez in El Campo took proactive measures. Recognizing the persisting odor concerns, Rodriguez initiated the development of four new vessels equipped with media tailored to combat and eliminate odor-causing compounds. The result has been nothing short of remarkable. Over the last nine months, Cortera Gas has successfully installed these new vessels, eradicating the potential for odor and marking a significant evolution in the trajectory of Cortera Gas.


More Options for Extraction:


Solvent Direct now offers several distinct options to its clients: the enhanced Cortera Gas for Medusa and Fast Crash as well as the industry-leading high purity gas from Diversified CPC that has been tried and true at labs across the country for many years. "This gives our clients the flexibility to choose the product that best suits their specific extraction needs"said Lexis Shontz, CEO at Solvent Direct. With 17 trucks, trailers and delivery vehicles on the across our 9 distribution centers strategically placed across the US, our infrastructure is designed to meet the rigorous demands of our customers and we are committed to providing all available options to extractors.


Shontz went on to emphasize the company's core competency in distribution rather than gas manufacturing. Shontz stated, "Our core competency is not to manufacture high purity gas, but rather to work closely with manufacturers to ensure industry-specific purity standards and unparalleled access to these products as a distributor.” Solvent Direct aims to cater to diverse customer requirements by offering a multitude of products extractors want all on one truck. Shontz went on to say “From the early days, our mission was to deliver the product extractors need, when they need it.” To this day, the Solvent Direct focus is to stand as a trusted partner to extractors providing unparalleled solutions in extraction lab supply.


Emphasizing the company's commitment to delivering a diverse catalog of lab supply, Solvent Direct takes pride in offering the variety of product extractors desire. Shontz continued, "Now that the dust has settled, we are offering different types of gas to keep up with the needs of our clientele, delivered with unparalleled logistical expertise." The company's approach reflects a dedication to adaptability, ensuring that their clients have access to a diverse range of products from both Cortera, Kaplan Industries and Diversified CPC.


Certifications and Transparency:


Cylinder and gas purity certifications for Solvent Direct butane, propane, isobutane and custom blends can be tracked and traced through their online repository. Solvent Direct clients can search for their cylinder serial numbers and access the Certificate of Analysis (COA) for the gas, along with the Certificate of Decontamination (COD) for the cylinder. These certifications include critical information such as the cylinder serial number, date of fill and date of cylinder decontamination and the signature of the certifying individual to ensure the highest purity standards in the industry. Clients can access detailed information about their cylinders, including gas purity and chain of custody, through Solvent Direct's revolutionary document search repository at www.solventdirect.com/documents.


Solvent Direct continues to lead the way in providing innovative solutions for the extraction industry. With enhanced Cortera Gas and other options and unparalleled transparency in the supply chain, we empower our clients with choices and information to elevate their extraction processes. Learn more at www.solventdirect.com/gas and www.solventdirect.com/compliance.


Q+A WITH RAMI RODRIGUEZ FROM CORTERA GAS

Navigating the Complexities of Cortera Gas, Medusa and Fast Crash with Head Chemist at Cortera Gas, Rami Rodriguez

Q1: Has it been 100% confirmed that methanol and diethanolamine are the target contaminants or if people still can't say 100% for certain? Are you guys specifically targeting those compounds when you remediate the solvent or are you guys just kind of throwing blanket fixes over it? Are you doing LLE and chromatography on the solvent or just running it through extensive amounts of sieve?


Rami Rodriguez: The 100% certainty is that hydrate inhibitors were being added to the raw product in early stages that caused major issues in crystallization. Our solution targets any oxygen-containing compound, employing a type of chemical reaction to bind to the entire molecule. This may seem like a blanket fix, but it's a specific and targeted approach, addressing the root cause—the oxygen atom. For diethanolamine, we employ reactions to uptake nitrogen compounds attached to alcohols or hydrocarbons. While we use liquid-liquid extraction and chromatography at the bench-top for analysis, these methods are not used on a large scale during processing.


Q2: So if the tanks smell, olefins are present. Does that have anything to due with the Medusa issue, or is that an entirely separate issue? Will the tainted gas look different under UV light or anything?

Rami Rodriguez: Odor doesn't necessarily mean olefins, but the garlic-like smell could be due to olefins. Olefins don't correlate with Medusa, but their presence can cause unpleasant odors. UV light can be used to distinguish the presence of unsaturated hydrocarbons (olefins) based on band absorption.


Q3: If there is H2O/moisture in the bio/system, will that increase the likelihood of Medusa (fast crashing/chalking) occurring?


Rami Rodriguez: Moisture in the butane solvent appears to have a significant effect on fast crashing or volatility in the extract. While the effect is not quantified, ongoing research aims to understand this interaction better.


Q4: Does the methanol bond to water? Will H2O/moisture act as a carrying agent?


Rami Rodriguez: Methanol addition aims to attach to free water molecules, forming an aqueous solution. While water could act as a carrying agent, there are some drawbacks to consider.

Q5: Are fast crash and chalking created by the same compound (methanol), or is it from multiple compounds? Have those compounds been 100% identified, or is the debate still up in the air?


Rami Rodriguez: Fast crash and chalking are tied together, with each having separate culprits. The main compounds causing these issues belong to different families, but their impact is exacerbated when combined. Identification is ongoing, with various compounds detected, including methanol and a range of oxygenated compounds.


Q6: Is it better to use hot liquid H2O or hot steam H2O when cleaning the system, and does it matter if it is from the city tap or if it’s deionized?


Rami Rodriguez: Clean deionized water is preferred, especially for steam cleaning. Steam at 100°C can effectively eliminate contaminants, but the choice between liquid and steam depends on what you're trying to remove. Concerns about trace metals in the water should be considered when using steam.


Q7: Is there a difference in the effectiveness of n-pentane and “pentanes” in their ability to carry/remediate methanol/Medusa? And also in their ability to create a good crystalline structure?


Rami Rodriguez: The effectiveness depends on the source of the product. Generally, lower carbon numbers like n-pentane are more effective, and higher carbon numbers are less desirable. Using the right solvent can contribute to a good crystalline structure. For example, C5 (pentanes) may not have a significant effect on Medusa, and the lower the carbon number, the better for specific applications.


Learn more about Solvent Direct butane, propane, isobutane and custom blends at www.solventdirect.com/gas or call 1-833-PURE-GAS to speak with a dedicated supply specialist about your lab supply requirements.



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