The TruSteel Vision for Alcohol Recovery and Beyond


TruSteel, a California based company, have established themselves in the large-scale extraction industry with their innovative AutoVap™ Alcohol Recovery Systems. The AutoVap™ is transforming the capabilities of extraction while the vision of TruSteel continues to look forward with a focus on innovation, efficiency, precision, scalability, and quality. “By Extractors, for Extractors” developed into TruSteel’s slogan from their experience and expertise in the extraction industry. The passion and vision for a full end-to-end extraction solution developed from a necessity to break bottlenecks that are hindering large-scale manufacturers from reaching their goals. With a team of driven, innovative engineers working alongside strategic business partners, the TruSteel vision to provide an ever scalable, complete, large-scale solution that the extraction industry is yearning for has become a reality.

Innovation: A Tru team of engineers

The foundation of TruSteel lies on the ingenuity and forward thinking behind the technology being produced. “Our goal is to focus on innovating and scaling machinery in order to be a step ahead of the industry demands. If innovation stops, so does the vision.” says Ray Van Lenten, Chief Technology Officer of TruSteel. TruSteel fully accepts the responsibility to provide this ever-growing, expanding industry with the hardware and knowledge to meet large-scale capacities now and for the future.

Efficiency: The Tru determining factor in the extraction industry

The most important determining factor for a business, especially in manufacturing, is your ratio of work input to result output. TruSteel products and development hold efficiency at the top priority for the extraction industry. Lowering physical footprints by decreasing the amount of physical space needed to operate is just the beginning. Efficiency also means being aware of our environment by helping to keep our planet clean. TruSteel has taken a major role in focusing on alcohol extraction because of the efficiency, cleanliness, and overall scalability. By lowering recovery time while increasing the rate of recovery, TruSteel has truly innovated the alcohol recovery process of extraction.

If innovation stops, so does the vision. -Ray Van Lenten, CTO of TruSteel

Precision: Tru to Form

In the extraction industry, the term “parameters” holds a high place. TruSteel understands how important setting the right parameters, and keeping them, is. TruSteel has set a new standard in the alcohol recovery industry by introducing an on-board control panel which sets ideal parameters for alcohol extraction while keeping checks and balances throughout the entire operation. Higher quality with less waste is the solution behind the AutoVap™. With precise parameters and timing measures set, you can be rest assured TruSteel machinery is operating at ideal capacity while achieving all expectations of quality and control.

Scalability: Tru to Scale

One of the most loathed words in the extraction industry is “bottleneck”. Machines you buy today will become obsolete tomorrow. This is not the case when it comes to the vision and execution of TruSteel. By anticipating growth in the manufacturing industry, TruSteel has developed machinery that is able to grow with your business. The complete TruSteel vision and model is a full end-to-end solution that allows scalability with plug and play machinery that exceeds all expectations and capacities.

Quality: Show your Tru colors

At the backbone of the entire TruSteel mission and vision is quality. From high quality parts to high quality people, the name TruSteel has become a well received name in the extraction industry. The AutoVap™ alcohol recovery systems are just the beginning to showcasing how a quality company can improve an entire industry. TruSteel has not only been quickly developing internally with their own products such as the AutoVap™ falling film evaporators, but have also been making strategic partnerships with other leaders in the industry. “We’re excited about our latest ventures with new partners and truly feel our relationships will further advance a complete end-to-end solution to all facets of the extraction industry.” announces Hayden Tucker, CEO of TruSteel. You can contact TruSteel at (877) 541-9633 or visit for full product information, cutsheets, and pricing. Also, come visit TruSteel at the MJBizCon in Las Vegas, November 14-16, 2018. The AutoVap30AutoVap15, and The DR-10 will all be on display!


What are some ways in which Solvent Recovery can enhance your production process?

Here are a few advantages. 

How Can a Solvent Recovery system Improve your Production Processes? 

With the proper usage of a solvent recovery system, your facility can save thousands of dollars in waste disposal and purchasing new solvents. However, cost-savings is not the only advantage of solvent recovery. Ultimately, it will increase the efficiency and efficacy of your laboratory while allowing for sustainability. 

Reduction of Solvent Waste

Using a closed system under vacuum, losses from openly boiling solvent can be greatly reduced. Not to mention the safety factors of boiling off flammable solvents. Before solvent recovery systems were largely available to the average start up operation,  many people were “open blasting” butane through biomass and allowing the butane to evaporate leaving the finished product. In addition to the high cost of replacing the wasted solvent this lead to many news stories of unfortunate accidents that could have easily been avoided.  Furthermore, with solvent recycling, you have the ability to re-use the same solvent many times over. Over time this produces a significant decrease in the amount of waste generated.

Reduction in Costs of New Solvent

As mentioned in the previous section, recycling can reduce the need for new solvent. As recycling solvents make it easier to re-use what would otherwise be waste generated in production, production facilities save a significant amount of money. On average, it is estimated that the cost of a fractional distillation unit can be earned back in cost savings within the short span of two years or less. 

Simplification of Daily Tasks

A solvent distillation unit has the advantage of helping technicians go about their tasks with greater ease. Without the need to bring contaminated solvent to another location for disposal, these compounds can remain in the confines of your facility, reducing the transport cost and keeping operators on the job. Furthermore the on site storage area necessary for solvent storage can be much smaller reducing overhead and start up cost.

Better Space Management

Utilizing solvent processing systems that are appropriately sized for the task at hand reduces the overall square footage required to accommodate the recovery rate that could take multiple rotary evaporators. 

Lesser manpower is needed

Staffing is an issue that lab supervisors often crack their heads over. In modern laboratories, managers are always asked to make do with as little staff members as possible. This makes solvent distillation machines a viable option. These machines allow for fewer man-hours to achieve the same results. Less time is needed to purchase and dispose of used solvents. Being automated, they can also run without the supervision of technicians. In the best case, these recyclers require less than thirty minutes of handling. Essentially, once technicians are familiar with the operations of the recyclers, they can just press a button and spend their time doing other work. 

Improvements in Safety

As these recyclers operate in a closed system, they can protect your precious staff from harmful chemicals and explosive vapors. Designing vapor capture and ventilation systems around your solvent recovery process ensures safety is maintained.

To obtain a specific ROI calcutaion on how a TruSteel Solvent System can improve your operation — call us or email us today. 


Now Introducing the EVO6


Riki Erickson
Marketing Manager

Modular Wiped Film Distillation Unit

Easy expansion and scalability to minimize downtime and maximize production.

Grass Valley, CA: TruSteel today announced the EVO-6 Series, a new wiped film distillation unit. The EVO Series brings a revolutionary modular design for a rapidly scaling botanical and pharmaceutical extraction industry. Built with the future in mind, the EVO’s superior design is the simplest and easiest way to add distillation stages to perfect the output product. Each additional module allows for a more flexible process to create the ultimate wiped film distillation unit. The control modules have advanced networking capabilities to provide easy integration into a master control unit that eliminates operator error. Other units claim full automation, but frequently fall short on the safety features and ease of access that TruSteel provides.

“This machine will change the way the industry approaches short path distillation.” says Ray Van Lenten, CTO of TruSteel. “The upgrades and features we’ve added to our EVO Series make it the most versatile and efficient Wiped Film Distillation unit on the market. Our motto for this year is Innovation, Automation, and Integration. We hope to set the bar for industrial process controls.”

Features and benefits of The EVO Series include.

  • Full automation — stand alone or with system connectivity capabilities
  • Modular design for easy scalability
  • Customizable process controls
  • Remote monitoring and datalogging
  • Sanitary designed and manufactured
  • Lockouts, user permissions and logging for enhanced quality control
  • Turnkey Setups for a complete working system

The EVO Series will be available starting 4/15/2020, with stand alone modules starting at $230,000.00 and add on units at $160,000.00. For more information on the EVO Series, visit or call us today 530-802-0420.

For more details, check out our cutsheet here: EVO6

About TruSteel: TruSteel is a professional team of engineers with years of experience in the extraction industry. Our tagline “By Extractors, For Extractors” reflects our knowledge of the industry and our commitment to help those in it thrive on a large scale. We understand how important the quality and productivity of your equipment is to your business, but also the relationship that you have with the manufacturer. We could sell you a product but we’d rather find you a solution.


Stop Throwing Money Out The Window: The Reality of Solvent Recovery

You, like many of Trusteel’s clients, are planning to extract oil from cannabis. For that process to be efficient, solvent recovery is an important, yet commonly overlooked step. We have seen time and time again how this cuts into the bottom line of companies ultimately limiting their ability to compete.

Unfortunately, most processors don’t realize how much money is being thrown out the window! In this article, I will talk about this inefficiency, how to look for it and how to fix it. TruSteel personally believes that no manufacturer or processor should have to suffer inefficient processes.

All cannabis processing facilities utilize a solvent, such as Ethanol/Alcohol, CO2, Butane, Propane, or even Water. This solvent is the key to extracting cannabinoids from biomass, and in most cases, is an expensive consumable in the process. Solvent Recovery is therefore critical to reducing your consumable and overhead cost; not to mention the reduction of time, material and energy needed to make and deliver that solvent to your doorstep.

From the hundreds of clients we’ve worked with, the two major points that stand out in all cannabis processing facilities that dictate their ability to reclaim expensive solvents are: the extraction process and the solvent recovery process.

The Extraction Process:

Simple reactors or vessels used to soak biomass in solvent are inefficient and leave behind a lot of solvent (20-60%) as well as un-extracted cannabinoids. This type of process is inexpensive upfront but quickly eats away at your bottom line and in some cases erodes the top line as well.

Basket centrifuges can be extremely efficient in extracting cannabinoids and reclaiming solvent from biomass, when operated under specific parameters. The centrifugal force pulls the solvent and cannabinoids away from the biomass, in some cases up to 98%. TruSteel can help you choose the most appropriate centrifuge for your operation.

The Solvent Recovery Process:

At one point, the most commonly used solvent recovery equipment in the cannabis processing industry was a Rotary Evaporator. RotoVaps are inexpensive, relatively quick to deliver, and widely used as bench top laboratory equipment. Their batch style, manual, and low-volume process makes them a great laboratory option for R&D, but a poor commercial or industrial option when an automated and continuous process is more commonly deployed for processing higher volumes than 50 lbs a day.

Scaling up to a faster and continuous solvent recovery process is where many processors start hemorrhaging money. Why? Because most are only recovering 80-90% of their solvent. This may not seem like a big deal, but 10% of your daily ethanol for a facility processing 1,000 lbs/day could cost you $1,200 – $2,500 every single day. Adding up very quickly to $50,000 or more a month! Is this money that you can afford to lose? Some manufacturers may think so and even claim that your material is easier to work with when it has more solvent left in it. This is only an excuse and an attempt at finding a silver lining when using inefficient equipment. A simple way to tell if this is happening to you is looking at the viscosity of the crude oil coming out of your evaporator. The more liquid and soupy the material is; likely the more solvent is left behind in your crude oil. You could also experience a bottleneck at your Solvent Recovery, Decarboxylation and Distillation stages because of this and be unable to process the amount you initially planned for.

Our goal is to help you avoid this. As the price for product rises and falls, companies with inefficient processes are going to struggle through the rough times while the companies that have the ability to keep processing costs low will be the ones taking market share. Process efficiencies allow for additional margins and increased returns.

You might ask, “How can I recover that last 10-20% of solvent?”. There are at least two options available:, 1) running a second pass through the equipment, or 2) using rotary evaporators to finish the job. In both cases, this causes a bottleneck in your process, requiring more time, more equipment, and more labor to get the job done than you originally expected. That 80 gal/hr falling film evaporator purchased quickly turns into a 40-50 gal/hr unit in the lab because processors are dealing with poor efficiency when it comes to solvent recovery.

This is where TruSteel can help you.

Ideally, your crude oil from an evaporator like our AutoVap should have a low residual solvent level and be ready for the next process of devolatilization and decarboxylation in our Decarboxylation Reactor. TruSteel’s proprietary design within the AutoVap Series can recover up to 99.5% of the incoming solvent stream on the first pass. This is over 10% higher than many alternatives and saves our clients hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. Another benefit is that by reducing the time heat is applied to your extracted cannabinoids, the end product is of higher quality. Some of our customers have been able to command a higher price for this enhanced output.

When TruSteel talks about throughput, we TRULY mean what we advertise. This is why TruSteel offers a Performance Guarantee to ensure satisfaction to our clients and performance of our equipment. After all, you’re putting your name on the line for your company, your customers, your product, and your investors; why shouldn’t we?


TruSteel’s Guide to Scaling Up

TruSteel's Products Featured in MJ Business Daily

How To Scale Like a Pro

One of the biggest industry bottlenecks is footprint. As the process grows, so does the equipment, right? Not with TruSteel! We take pride in having the smallest footprint per throughput on all of our equipment. For example, our AutoVap 300 sits in the same 2D footprint as our biggest competitor’s 45/60 GPH unit. That’s 5X+ throughput than the other guys! It also translates to less money spent on building out bigger facilities when the time to upgrade comes.

A big factor for scaling is being able to use multiple solvents. We’ve had customers start their business just extracting crude oil with an AV15 and eventually upgraded to an AV30 and added distillation capabilities. When they started crystallizing cannabinoids with heptane, the AutoVap 15 was there to seamlessly process the mother liquor. They didn’t even need to change the seals out! When that customer eventually started using Acetonitrile for chromatography, the AutoVap again was the perfect tool of choice for solvent removal. By utilizing only PTFE, Stainless, and Borosilicate, the AutoVap is compatible with every solvent used in the cannabis industry, and then some.

When it comes to distillation, it’s difficult to achieve total compound removal, high purity, and a sufficient flow rate to not slow down operations. It’s one of the many reasons why the EVO series was designed to be modular. You can start with a single stage and pass the product through multiple times to remove your target compounds. This can help start your distillation line when there’s not enough funding for a multistage system. With the modularity kits we offer, as your business grows you can easily upgrade to a double stage to strip terpenes and cannabinoids inline, or even a 5 stage with inline decarboxylation, terpene stripping, 2 main body passes for ultra-high purity cannabinoids, and residue stripping to make sure you’re getting every drop of product possible. We can design your dream machine with unlimited stages of purification.

Want to take your scaling skills a step further? Download our guide today to take our tips with you on the go!


TruSteel Featured in California Leaf Magazine

Featured in California Leaf Magazine

Co-Founder and Chief of Technology Officer, Ray Van Lenten was recently interviewed and featured in California Leaf Magazine. Read the full interview below:

One of the most exciting new companies the Cannabis industry has produced of late is TruSteel, an extraction solutions company and manufacturer based in Grass Valley. If extraction is part of your business plan, this is a company you need to know about. In terms of hydrocarbon extraction, we’ve come a very long way in a short time. First there was open blasting, then came selectively adapted and modified botanical extraction equipment and cooking hardware, then eventually the first closed-loop systems were built in the late 90s. Fast forward a couple decades later and we’re looking at an entirely different landscape in the world of Cannabis concentrate production. What was originally pioneered and shared by the nerdier (and maybe braver) Cannabis connoisseurs has now been rocketed into the next dimension with the help of recreational legalization. These days, in order to run a legal lab you have to satisfy multiple state, city, and county agencies, having them sign off on your facilities, operating procedures and equipment before you can obtain a license. And even after jumping through the hoops to get licensed, many continue to operate in the same old fashion they always did – not realizing that we are living in a new age and the game has changed. Today, data is everything. Every aspect of a process can be traceable and essentially nobody is taking advantage of all the data you can capture while extracting Cannabis. TruSteel saw the gap in the market and have stepped up to fill it in a big way.

We caught up with Ray Van Lenten, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer at TruSteel, to learn more about the company, their hardware, and why it’s so revolutionary in the extraction world.

How would you quantify TruSteel as a business?

We like to think we’re shifting more towards a solutions-based company, rather than a product-based company. We pride ourselves on educating our customers and working with them to get them exactly what they need. We’re an OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer. We have found necessities in the Cannabis and biopharmaceutical extraction market and aim to fill that gap with a standardized product.

How and when did TruSteel come to life?

I founded the company in 2015 and made a lot of connections, having figured out how to make distillate early on when the tech was still underground and information on the subject was not widely available. I handled a lot of toll processing contracts and built a really great network that way. AB266 came into play in California and legalization started progressing. My interests shifted and I got bored processing. The most exciting part of it for me was building bigger, newer, more efficient machines. We incorporated in July 2017, just Andrew and I, in a 2,800 sq. ft. warehouse. Our first product was a 12×28 jacketed vessel, a really simple but versatile product. At the same time, I was experimenting building falling film evaporators to replace the rotovaps we’d all been using. With each order of vessels that came in, I’d get a few new parts and pieces to build the prototype falling film. I demoed the first unit and someone bought it on the spot! At the time, this technology didn’t exist elsewhere. I knew we could change the game and so we set out to build the first five production model AV15s. After those sold quickly we began working on the bigger, fully automated AV30 and it’s just taken off from there.

What type of equipment is TruSteel currently manufacturing?

Our main focus is around the cold ethanol extraction market, but we also specialize in post-refinement techniques such as short path distillation, chromatography, and color/pesticide remediation. Our equipment was designed around the industry-standard basket centrifuge flow rates, so we focus mainly on systems to support this. We have an inline solvent cooler with adjustable temp down to -55 C, filtration, solvent recovery, decarboxylation and wiped film evaporators – all designed to be able to run stand alone, or we can package them together with tanks and all the pumps and process piping necessary to build one big networked system. These usually range from 100-300lbs per hour, but we can do anything from 15 up to tens of thousands of pounds per hour. We’ve also designed our machines to be compatible with pretty much every liquid (at room temp) solvent for maximum versatility.

What sort of efficiency can someone expect when operating one of your machines?

That’s a good question and one I’ll counter with one of my own: How are you quantifying efficiency? We see 99%-plus recovery efficiency with our solvent recovery machines – it’s our standard. As in, if you put 100 gallons of solvent in, you should be recovering over 99 gallons of solvent with one of our units. We also have the most compact machine with the highest throughput per square foot. Are TruSteel’s units designed for hemp processing, Cannabis processing, or both? Definitely both. There has been a niche market for ethanol processing for the THC side, but I think hydrocarbons are really the pinnacle of that world. However, our equipment still shines when it comes to supporting post-refinement techniques like crystallization and remediation on the THCa side.

Did things change for the business when COVID-19 hit?

We have really bolstered our installation documents and processes. We have been able to install a lot of our equipment almost entirely remotely and the project management team has done a fantastic job adapting to this scenario. We are able to work with the client and their local contractors to get the job done. So far our customers have been really ecstatic about it. One of the unique things about our software is that it has a remote access feature, so we can log in to a client’s machine from across the globe and help them troubleshoot if needed.

Is there anything on the horizon for TruSteel we should know about?

A lot of cool stuff is in the works! We have a fully automated, continuous 300lb per hour pilot plant that only requires two operators launching soon. The technology is infinitely scalable as well. We have broken away from the batch style basket centrifuges and adopting a continuous version, all with cleanability and impending FDA regulations in mind. It boasts 98% cannabinoid extraction efficiency and also renders the waste material that comes out completely inert, unlike the basket centrifuge. Without flammability risk, the waste material becomes easily transportable and also compostable or available as feedstock for a local farmer. We are working hard to tap into international markets as well. We’re pretty close to obtaining our CE mark on the AutoVap, which includes ATEX and a ton of other European standard certifications – it’ll be a year-long process by the time we’re done, but well worth it. Another big change for us is switching from prototyping in real life to designing our machines entirely from our in-house developed SolidWorks library. It has really advanced our creation abilities and allows us to run flow simulations and all the calculations necessary to design a fully functional plant. We can also generate lifelike 3D animations and exploded diagram views for our manuals directly from the models. We are already in the pharmaceutical market and are hoping to tap into food and beverage, and nutraceutical industries soon as well. We are building all our equipment to be extremely compliant with all agencies and new regulations, including the FDA and UL. And we are always working towards more domestically produced components. We are currently about 80% domestic with our supply chain and trying to support jobs in America – doing our best to work with local businesses and community outreach.

To read the full spread, click here!


How Solvent Compatibility Future Proofs Your Cash Flow

The only thing more important than solvent compatibility is your cash flow. Every day, millions of dollars are wasted with inefficiencies, and outdated equipment collecting dust that no longer produces revenue. Planning for tomorrow saves downtime and wasted capital. Multi-Solvent compatibility ensures your process doesn’t become antiquated, and your investment can be repurposed for other revenue streams.

Sited from a previous blog The Guide to Scaling Up

 “We’ve had customers start their business just extracting crude oil with an AV15 and eventually upgraded to an AV30 and added distillation capabilities. When they started crystallizing cannabinoids with heptane, the AutoVap 15 was there to seamlessly process the mother liquor. They didn’t even need to change the seals out! When that customer eventually started using Acetonitrile for chromatography, the AutoVap again was the perfect tool of choice for solvent removal. By utilizing only PTFE, Stainless, and Borosilicate, the AutoVap is compatible with every solvent used in the cannabis industry, and then some.” 

When digging deeper into multi-solvent compatibility it is important to understand chemical compatibility. Chemical compatibility is the measure of how stable one substance is when mixed with another substance. This is a critical factor when designing your chemical based processes.

For the integrity of the equipment being used, the quality of the product you expect to produce and the health and safety of the employees working the machine, proper education and due diligence must be paid. 

There is a wide range of chemical reactions that may occur including; self-ignition from contact with air, the generation of heat resulting from contact of a chemical with moisture, decomposition, the generation of toxic gases, the heating of containers that may cause overflow or rupture, polymerization, the formation of new and possibly more dangerous compounds, fire, detonation,  explosion or any combination of these or other actions. All of these can have disastrous outcomes if not properly monitored and maintained.

Most of the compatibility issues we will deal with in the cannabis processing facility will be with the elastomer selection in pumps and seals throughout the system. It is preferred to use components made of materials that are highly resistant to attack from solvents and the cannabis oils themselves. 

Stainless steel is a great material for this reason. It has a high resistance to corrosion, temperature and a wide range of chemical compatibilities.

PTFE and other fluoropolymers also show a wide range of chemical compatibilities, however as an elastomer they sometimes don’t provide the best seal due to their degree of hardness.  As where a harder elastomer won’t give you the proper seal you need. Depending on the solvent system that is being used in the process this can be an instance where incompatibility issues arise. 

Many systems are designed with the capability to use multiple solvent systems. To ensure compatibility it may be necessary to change the elastomers before changing from one solvents system to another. There are many great resource databases online to reference when changing your process to accommodate a new method. 

There are certain steps that should be taken to help ensure that you are always on top of system compatibility, following SOP’s to the letter is step number one.

  Have a qualified Industrial hygienist help with oversight in this area. Steps should be taken to identify all of the chemicals used in the facility. Create a spreadsheet for each system listing the elastomers and materials of construction along with all of the chemicals used in the facility. This will help with determining the potential contact points, allowing for listing which ones should never be used with certain materials and elastomers. It is crucial to determine the physical properties of all of the chemicals being used in the facility to ensure proper storage and handling is reflected in your SOP’s.  

If you have questions please contact Trusteel 

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Why Customer Support is the Biggest Selling Point this Croptober

As we prepare for what is now known as Croptober, we have outlined the 5 most important aspects of support to consider when choosing a partner for your processing needs.  

Customer Support

As a customer, you should feel supported through your entire experience. A trusted partner with experience will provide counsel and guidance to best optimize your process within your facility for your desired output.  This will ensure your investment is best fit for your end-product and will help avoid wasted time and capital.

Clients working with TruSteel get setup quickly and receive responsive support. We understand that time is money and this is why on every project our Project Managers walk through every step of the pre-installation process, organize important information into one central location, and ensure your project is managed efficiently to meet your deadlines. Expect from your Project Manager at TruSteel the following:

  • Process roadmap and online dashboard for your specific project
  • Pre-Installation manuals and checklist
  • Wiring and plumbing diagrams
  • Plumbing manifolds to ensure proper performance and efficiency
  • Operating manuals, SOPs, and Engineer Peer Reviews

Design Support

Whether you are new to the industry, the crop or the process, experienced extractors have an upper hand with design support. A tailored process for your desired end product and future goals will save you money before you even start.  Our engineers have on average 11 years of experience and have custom-designed dozens of systems for varying products at various scales. 

Work with our team to design a system that you know will work, get the support behind it that you need, and be dynamic enough to change with your process and business model!

Installation & Training

Always check your options! Installation can include video support, in person support and sometimes depending on the ease of installation, no support required. It is also important to know ahead of time if ancillary equipment, plumbing manifolds, critical connections, diagrams, and instructions are included for a complete installation as close to factory spec as possible. The installation, particularly the plumbing for heating and cooling lines if not done properly, can dramatically reduce the efficiency and throughput of evaporators and distillation equipment. Clients that work with TruSteel have 99% of the work already done for them and get the install done right the first time, rather than being left alone to figure it out themselves and hoping it’s correct.

Running your equipment for the first time is a critical moment and proper training for your team will ensure your success. On this day with TruSteel, you will have a whole team behind you to make sure you are completely taken care of. This is important because everyone’s process is usually a little different. The extraction method, differences in biomass, solvents used, preferred temperatures all play a factor in the end product. Our team takes care in tailoring your system specifically for your process, ultimately leaving clients extremely happy with the end product they are producing and increasing the longevity of the investment they’ve made in TruSteel.

Performance Guarantee

Is your provider willing to stand behind its claims? Obviously, a performance guarantee is a game changer for you and a risky proposition for the provider (that’s only if they’ve got something to be worried about).  With today’s wild claims from many others, you need a partner that will not only stand behind their product and system, but your process and output, because that is directly tied to your return on investment. Our technicians stay with your team getting to production and then help define the operating procedure to meet or exceed guaranteed performance rates, getting our clients some of the fastest returns!

Maintenance Program 

Maintenance Programs are focused on preventing down-time, increasing efficiency, lowering costs over time, and ensuring the value of your equipment. All tiers offered by TruSteel include benefits such as:

  • Equipment inspection
  • On-site maintenance
  • Extended warranties
  • Re-training
  • Re-qualifying operating and installation (IQ/OQ)
  • Discounts on future products or replacement parts. 

Keeping your investment running efficiently and your operation running smoothly is important to your business success.  Having your partner side-by-side with you for ongoing maintenance and support will pay dividends to your bottom line.


Choosing the Best Hydroponic Chiller

Chill and Grow

Over the last several decades, hydroponics has become an efficient and profitable growing solution for all climates and operation sizes. A vast range of hydroponic setups are achievable in dense urban cities, rural areas, and previously un-growable zones. One of the most important pieces of equipment for these hydroponic setups is the reservoir chiller. Hydroponic solution chillers can vastly improve overall plant health, crop output, and profitability. Let’s walk through the process of hydroponic reservoir chilling and the essential qualities needed in a hydroponic chiller.

Hand holding a hydroponically grown lettuce plant

Why are Hydroponic Chillers So Important?

Successful hydroponic gardens neutralize the environmental extremes that one experiences with soil gardening and provide healthy and stable growing conditions. Air temperature, humidity, nutrient concentrations, and water solution temperatures should remain constant. Therefore, properly chilling your water solution reservoir is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Ideally, reservoirs should be kept cooler than the ambient air temperature (around 65° F/18° C). 

Chilling Protects Water Solution Health

A hydroponic plant is only as healthy as its roots. Chilling your reservoir to 65° F provides the ideal environment for your root zones to thrive in a number of ways.

North Slope Chillers graphic showing the benefits of using a hydroponic reservoir chiller

Overall Root Health

Hydroponic growing gives gardeners a chance to monitor a critical section of the plant that was previously hidden from view…the root zones. Plant roots need to be permeable enough to absorb everything the plant needs to grow. In addition, the environment surrounding the roots needs to be carefully cultivated to ensure plants don’t absorb harmful substances such as fungi. Chilling the water solution reservoir improves overall root zone health and keeps harmful environmental contaminants at bay. 

Dissolved Oxygen Levels

Dissolved oxygen (DO) is essential for a healthy root system. Aerobic respiration keeps your roots permeable and more able to absorb nutrients. DO also encourages healthy bacteria growth around the root zones, which protects your plants from fungal infections.

North Slope Chillers graphic showing the relationship between dissolved oxygen levels and water solution temperature

Using an air pump and air stone to oxygenate your water solution keeps DO levels up. Chilling your water solution ensures that your DO levels stay up. Anything below 5 mg/L is very detrimental to plants. Using a DO meter to measure oxygen levels in your water solution keeps your roots permeable and protects them from drowning.

Nutrient Absorption

Each crop has different nutrient requirements and scientists have spent decades refining these formulas. Chilling your water solution will increase nutrient absorption across the entire root zone, no matter what nutrient balance your hydroponic garden needs. 

Algae Prevention

The downside of creating the perfect plant growth environment, is that you have created the perfect environment for all plants…including algae. Unfortunately, almost every hydroponic operation encounters algae at some point. If left unchecked, algae spreads quickly, clogs your system, and even becomes toxic to your crop. Algae spores need light, nutrients, water, and warm temperatures in order to thrive. You can’t eliminate light, nutrients, or the presence of water, without damaging your plants. That means using a reservoir chiller on your water solution is the best option for controlling algae growth.

Microbe Balance

Good microbes can help balance out harmful pathogens and fungi from growing in your hydroponic system. Beneficial colonies for specific crops can be purchased and mixed into your water solution at scheduled intervals to inoculate your system and continue to protect it in the future. Keeping your reservoir chilled balances microbial colonies in your favor.

Hydroponic Chiller Specifications

Now we know how crucial it is to chill hydroponic water solutions reservoirs. So what qualities should you look for in a hydroponic reservoir chiller? Let’s take a look at important specifications a chiller should have in order to meet your hydroponic needs.

North Slope Chillers graphic showing what specifications a hydroponic chiller should have

Correct Sizing

Chillers are typically listed according to BTUs or tons of cooling power (1 ton of cooling power = 12,000 BTUs). Use the following calculation to make sure you select a chiller with enough BTUs to match your requirements:

BTU/hr = Gallons x Temperature Change (°F) x 8.33 / Time (hrs)

First find out how many gallons your reservoir holds. Next, calculate how many degrees your water needs to be chilled. For example, if the water coming out of your hoses is 85°, you need a temperature reduction of 20° F in order to hit 65° F. Lastly, find out how long it takes for your reservoir solution to flow through your set up. Larger hydroponic setups will require more cooling power to make sure the reservoir stays chilled as the water solution returns to the chiller.

Easy to Keep Clean

Greenhouses need to be kept clean in order to preserve the ideal growing environment. It is important to select equipment that is easy to keep clean so you can reduce the chance for mold, mildew, algae, or pests to thrive.

Non Corrosive Components

Be sure to choose a chiller with non-corrosive interior and exterior components. Non corrosive exteriors help with your cleanliness requirements (as mentioned above). Non corrosive interior components won’t leach metal contaminants into your nutrient solution.


One of the benefits of hydroponic gardening is the flexibility you have to change layouts and add more plants without uprooting your crop. Your hydroponic chiller should not interfere with your ability to adjust your layout as needed. Portable chillers give you the freedom to make changes without disrupting your cooling system.

Reliable Thermostatic Controls

It is important to choose a chiller that allows you to set desired temperature ranges instead of just running all the time. Running a chiller unnecessarily not only drives up your energy costs, but can also overchill your nutrient solution and damage your crops. Select a hydroponic chiller that gives you the ability to cater to your exact temperature needs.

Automation/Smart Control Options

There are a lot of variables to monitor in a hydroponic greenhouse: ph levels, nutrient levels, humidity, air temperature, water solution temperature, crop output, and more. The last thing you need is a reservoir chiller that requires constant babysitting. Choose a chiller that has options for automation and smart temperature controls that relieve stress and free up your valuable time.

Recirculating Fluids

One of the greatest advantages of hydroponic gardening is high yield results for low water consumption. Your watering system carefully recirculates your nutrient solution to and from the reservoir. Therefore you should choose a reservoir chiller that also has the ability to recirculate its internal cooling fluids.

Hydroponic Chilling Solutions from AG-Optimists

Looking for a reservoir chiller that meets all of those requirements? Look no further than AG-Optimists. We specialize in portable industrial chillers with a wide range of cooling capacities that will perfectly match your hydroponic needs.

North Slope Chillers hydroponic chilling solutions

Portable Industrial Chillers

• Portability for flexible layouts

• Easy to clean powder coated cabinet

• Wide range of sizes to match any grow setup

• Simple to install and use

• Recirculating fluids to save on water use

• Smart temperature control with Beacon

Fluxwrap Cooling Jackets

• Fully insulated against temperature loss

• Multichannel jackets for full cooling coverage

• Wraps around a wide range of reservoir sizes and shapes

• Simple to install, use, and remove for storage

• Easy to clean vinyl exterior

Contact us to find the right hydroponic chiller for your needs at 541-610-6858 or


Heat Exchangers in Process Cooling

What Are Heat Exchangers?

A heat exchanger is a system that transfers heat between substances, through the movement of a cooling medium (fluid or air). They are used for both heating and cooling in a wide range of industrial applications: power stations, computer processors, chemical plants, food and beverage processing, refineries, refrigeration, space heating/cooling, combustion engines, and more.

Close up of a plate heat exchanger

Biological Heat Exchangers

Some of the most influential inventions come from observing natural phenomena. Heat exchangers are no different, as they are present all across the planet, including the animal kingdom. In fact, you are breathing through one right now. As you inhale cool air through your nose, warmth is transferred from nasal passage blood vessels into that air, and you exhale warm air. These circulatory system heat exchangers are also found in animal ears, limbs, and even special organs (called the carotid rete) to help regulate body temperatures in extreme environments.

How Do Heat Exchangers Work?

Heat exchangers use the principles of thermodynamics to move heat away from (cooling) or into (heating) an area as efficiently as possible. Here, there are 3 main methods of heat transfer at play: conduction, convection, and radiation.

Heat Transfer Methods

North Slope Chillers graphic on the methods of heat transfer

Conduction requires physical contact between solid objects in order for heat to move. A simple example would be a pot on top of an electric stove. Heat is directly transferred from the stove into the surface of the pot. Now to see convection in action, imagine you fill the pot with water. Heat will circulate and move through the liquid molecules so that even the water molecules in the very center of the pot get hotter. The easiest way to understand the process of radiation is to walk outside into the sunshine. Electromagnetic waves from the sun are radiating down on us every day.

Maximised Surface Area Contact

Using the diagram above, we can see that contact and movement are important heat transfer factors. That means we can improve heat movement with greater surface contact, contact time, and efficient flow. Simply put, greater surface area contact + longer contact time + continuous flow = greater heat transfer. The faster and more efficiently heat is moved, the better. Heat exchangers accomplish this by maximizing both surface area and contact time with a flowing cooling medium (either air or fluids).

North Slope Chillers graphic of a simple heat exchange cross section

As hot and cold media (either air or fluids) flow past each other, heat moves from the hot medium into the cold medium for as long as they are in contact with one another. Heat exchangers are specially designed to maximise this contact as much as possible within the space provided. Let’s take a look at some of the clever designs used in heat exchangers today.

Types of Heat Exchangers

There are many ways to make and hot and cold media flow past each other. Thermal engineers will use different set ups depending on the thermal load (how much heat needs to be moved and how quickly) for different applications. Using these designs elements, there are an infinite number of possible combinations and flow paths.

North Slope Chillers graphic on types of heat exchangers


Some heat exchangers use metal plates that are stacked or lined up in a row. Hot and cold media flow over these plates in an alternating pattern to transfer heat.

Fins and Microchannels

To further increase surface area, these plates can also be textured with microchannels or fins to produce additional flow paths. Instead of flowing uniformly over the metal plate’s surface, the fluid flows along these strategically organized paths.

Shells and Tubes

In this model, tubes of fluid enter a shell filled with an alternate fluid temperature. The tubes perform a series of bends and turns inside to increase contact with the alternate fluid. During its time in the shell, the tube fluid either transfers or receives heat from the shell fluid.


This heat exchanger is most commonly used for HVAC applications. Ductwork channels direct outside air and inside air past one another and the exhausts are directed out the other side.

Pillow Plates

Pillow plates are a series of metal plates that are welded together in certain spots to create negative space pockets. A metal plate will have many weld locations and many empty negative spaces in between. 1 fluid flows through those negative spaces, while the other flows in between the pillow plates.

Quality Interior Components from AG-Optimists

At AG-Optimists, we know that a chiller is only as good as its heat exchanger. Our powerful and portable industrial chillers are crafted with the best internal components for reliable high performance to efficiently remove waste heat from materials, equipment, and industrial processes. Our chillers are equipped with brazed plate heat exchangers (copper brazed stainless steel) that provide both compactness and heat transfer efficiency. For applications that require deionized chilling, we used brazed nickel heat exchangers to protect you from corrosion. With a wide range of chilling capacities, we can match the exact thermal load of your application. Contact us to find the right industrial chilling solution for your needs at 541-610-6858 or