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RE: [Distillers] Re: Goats and other rubbish

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  • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
    I support Smudge in what he s saying (or my interpretation of it). As i see it, he s simply saying that you can control the purity (determined by the reflux
    Message 1 of 19 , Apr 1, 2003
      I support Smudge in what he's saying (or my interpretation of it).

      As i see it, he's simply saying that you can control the purity (determined by the reflux ratio & column characteristics), either by
      a) adjusting the amount of liquid returned back down the column (for a fixed given amount of vapour) via the offtake valve (my style - using the offset/overhead condenser vapour or liquid management approach), or
      b) adjusting the rate of vapour generation (for a fixed amount of reflux) by controlling the amount of power input to the still.

      Smudge has chosen (b) because he can automate it, whereas automating (a) is quite a bit trickier.

      In both cases, we use the temperature at the head of the column as an indicator of the purity there, and it signals us what to do.

      We just have different ways of explaining / stating it.

      I believe both approaches work, and work well. Its up to the individual as to if they want to control either the rate of reflux returned, or the rate of vapour generation. Both end up doing the same job - adjusting the RATIO between the two as required later in the run. Depending on how great the ratio is to begin with will determine if you're doing a lot of adjustment, or just a little.

      my 2c

      Tony
    • homedistiller
      Hi Mike, Smudge did also send his plans to me. His pictures, drawings and information were the primary reason for me to wonder about you defining his still as
      Message 2 of 19 , Apr 1, 2003
        Hi Mike,

        Smudge did also send his plans to me. His pictures, drawings and
        information were the primary reason for me to wonder about you
        defining his still as a pot still.

        My remarks:

        1) Packing.
        Is the use of packing conditional to have a reflux still ?
        Smudge uses no packing, but so many industrial columns don't use
        packing, they have trays instead. Smudge's still has a tall and wide
        column and it has many horizontal plates, placed so, that they
        function like simple trays. His still does not operate on single
        stage reflux as a pot still, but does definitely so in several
        stages.
        How otherwise could he obtain that purity ?

        2) Uninsulated
        Is the use of insulation conditional to speak of a reflux still ?
        One must create reflux somewhere. With his design, he heats up his
        room to create reflux, others will heat up the drain with warm water.

        3) As far as asking Smudge to publish his design to the group: I'm
        sure you read some of the posts adressed to Smudge. Would you
        comfortably share ideas with people who prefer to see you in an
        asylum ?

        Mike, don't take me wrong about my remarks. For personal use, I would
        probably modify Smudge's design. I would extend the column to have
        more stages (less reflux needed), I would insulate it and would
        create the traditional reflux outside of the column etc.

        BUT, I appreciate Smudge's ideas about controlling the still with the
        temperature sensor on top and I very much admire his polite,
        steadfast and scientific attitude with which he defends his
        experiments. I have no problems at all with knowledgeable people
        saying "I win" when they win.

        Sincerely,
        Dirk

        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
        > homedistiller wrote:
        > Subject: [Distillers] Re: Goats and other rubbish
        >
        > I'm still very puzzled about Mike Nixon calling your still a pot
        still !?
        > =====================================
        > I call it a pot still because the column contains no packing and
        because it is uninsulated, both of which are features that define a
        reflux still. Smudge has kindly sent me details of its construction.
        The feature that makes it a "better" pot still is that he has
        devised a way of getting the reflux that condenses on the uninsulated
        walls away from them by a series of plates that direct the reflux to
        the centre of the column. This reduces the amount of cooling and
        promotes further re-evaporation. It is a good technique.
        >
        > You might ask Smudge to publish his design to this Group, and you
        will see what I mean. His design, his privilege.
        >
        > Mike N
      • nanosleep
        I didn t realize smudge s still had tray-like devices inside the column. I tend to get glassy eyed when the messages start ranting :P I just assumed the
        Message 3 of 19 , Apr 1, 2003
          I didn't realize smudge's still had tray-like devices inside
          the column. I tend to get glassy eyed when the messages
          start ranting :P I just assumed the column was empty
          and the only refining of the alcohol was from
          condensation/revaporization on the column walls
          (rather inefficient). What do the plates look like inside
          the column? I'd be interested in seeing the design.

          I disagree slightly on the point made about "if it works
          for you then that's good enough". I have a still that
          works perfectly well for me, but I want it to work BETTER!
          I'd be glad to have someone tell me how to make my still
          better, faster, more efficient, or easier to run. That's
          how this art gets improved.

          My 3 cents (inflation)
          -A

          --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "homedistiller"
          <homedistiller@y...> wrote:
          > Hi Mike,
          >
          > Smudge did also send his plans to me. His pictures, drawings and
          > information were the primary reason for me to wonder about you
          > defining his still as a pot still.
          >
          > My remarks:
          >
          > 1) Packing.
          > Is the use of packing conditional to have a reflux still ?
          > Smudge uses no packing, but so many industrial columns don't use
          > packing, they have trays instead. Smudge's still has a tall and
          wide
          > column and it has many horizontal plates, placed so, that they
          > function like simple trays. His still does not operate on single
          > stage reflux as a pot still, but does definitely so in several
          > stages.
          > How otherwise could he obtain that purity ?
          >
          > 2) Uninsulated
          > Is the use of insulation conditional to speak of a reflux still ?
          > One must create reflux somewhere. With his design, he heats up his
          > room to create reflux, others will heat up the drain with warm
          water.
          >
          > 3) As far as asking Smudge to publish his design to the group: I'm
          > sure you read some of the posts adressed to Smudge. Would you
          > comfortably share ideas with people who prefer to see you in an
          > asylum ?
          >
          > Mike, don't take me wrong about my remarks. For personal use, I
          would
          > probably modify Smudge's design. I would extend the column to have
          > more stages (less reflux needed), I would insulate it and would
          > create the traditional reflux outside of the column etc.
          >
          > BUT, I appreciate Smudge's ideas about controlling the still with
          the
          > temperature sensor on top and I very much admire his polite,
          > steadfast and scientific attitude with which he defends his
          > experiments. I have no problems at all with knowledgeable people
          > saying "I win" when they win.
          >
          > Sincerely,
          > Dirk
          >
          > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
          > > homedistiller wrote:
          > > Subject: [Distillers] Re: Goats and other rubbish
          > >
          > > I'm still very puzzled about Mike Nixon calling your still a pot
          > still !?
          > > =====================================
          > > I call it a pot still because the column contains no packing and
          > because it is uninsulated, both of which are features that define a
          > reflux still. Smudge has kindly sent me details of its
          construction.
          > The feature that makes it a "better" pot still is that he has
          > devised a way of getting the reflux that condenses on the
          uninsulated
          > walls away from them by a series of plates that direct the reflux to
          > the centre of the column. This reduces the amount of cooling and
          > promotes further re-evaporation. It is a good technique.
          > >
          > > You might ask Smudge to publish his design to this Group, and you
          > will see what I mean. His design, his privilege.
          > >
          > > Mike N
        • waljaco
          Obviously pictures speak better than words! Re: Insulation Commercial stills using plates do not have insulation. Do they compensate by using more power? Wal
          Message 4 of 19 , Apr 1, 2003
            Obviously pictures speak better than words!
            Re: Insulation
            Commercial stills using plates do not have insulation. Do they
            compensate by using more power?
            Wal

            --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "nanosleep" <nanosleep@y...> wrote:
            > I didn't realize smudge's still had tray-like devices inside
            > the column. I tend to get glassy eyed when the messages
            > start ranting :P I just assumed the column was empty
            > and the only refining of the alcohol was from
            > condensation/revaporization on the column walls
            > (rather inefficient). What do the plates look like inside
            > the column? I'd be interested in seeing the design.
            >
            > I disagree slightly on the point made about "if it works
            > for you then that's good enough". I have a still that
            > works perfectly well for me, but I want it to work BETTER!
            > I'd be glad to have someone tell me how to make my still
            > better, faster, more efficient, or easier to run. That's
            > how this art gets improved.
            >
            > My 3 cents (inflation)
            > -A
            >
            > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "homedistiller"
            > <homedistiller@y...> wrote:
            > > Hi Mike,
            > >
            > > Smudge did also send his plans to me. His pictures, drawings and
            > > information were the primary reason for me to wonder about you
            > > defining his still as a pot still.
            > >
            > > My remarks:
            > >
            > > 1) Packing.
            > > Is the use of packing conditional to have a reflux still ?
            > > Smudge uses no packing, but so many industrial columns don't use
            > > packing, they have trays instead. Smudge's still has a tall and
            > wide
            > > column and it has many horizontal plates, placed so, that they
            > > function like simple trays. His still does not operate on single
            > > stage reflux as a pot still, but does definitely so in several
            > > stages.
            > > How otherwise could he obtain that purity ?
            > >
            > > 2) Uninsulated
            > > Is the use of insulation conditional to speak of a reflux still ?
            > > One must create reflux somewhere. With his design, he heats up his
            > > room to create reflux, others will heat up the drain with warm
            > water.
            > >
            > > 3) As far as asking Smudge to publish his design to the group: I'm
            > > sure you read some of the posts adressed to Smudge. Would you
            > > comfortably share ideas with people who prefer to see you in an
            > > asylum ?
            > >
            > > Mike, don't take me wrong about my remarks. For personal use, I
            > would
            > > probably modify Smudge's design. I would extend the column to have
            > > more stages (less reflux needed), I would insulate it and would
            > > create the traditional reflux outside of the column etc.
            > >
            > > BUT, I appreciate Smudge's ideas about controlling the still with
            > the
            > > temperature sensor on top and I very much admire his polite,
            > > steadfast and scientific attitude with which he defends his
            > > experiments. I have no problems at all with knowledgeable people
            > > saying "I win" when they win.
            > >
            > > Sincerely,
            > > Dirk
            > >
            > > --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Nixon" <mike@s...> wrote:
            > > > homedistiller wrote:
            > > > Subject: [Distillers] Re: Goats and other rubbish
            > > >
            > > > I'm still very puzzled about Mike Nixon calling your still a pot
            > > still !?
            > > > =====================================
            > > > I call it a pot still because the column contains no packing and
            > > because it is uninsulated, both of which are features that define
            a
            > > reflux still. Smudge has kindly sent me details of its
            > construction.
            > > The feature that makes it a "better" pot still is that he has
            > > devised a way of getting the reflux that condenses on the
            > uninsulated
            > > walls away from them by a series of plates that direct the reflux
            to
            > > the centre of the column. This reduces the amount of cooling and
            > > promotes further re-evaporation. It is a good technique.
            > > >
            > > > You might ask Smudge to publish his design to this Group, and
            you
            > > will see what I mean. His design, his privilege.
            > > >
            > > > Mike N
          • Mike Nixon
            Hi Dirk, Smudge did also send his plans to me. His pictures, drawings and information were the primary reason for me to wonder about you defining his still as
            Message 5 of 19 , Apr 1, 2003
              Hi Dirk,
               
              Smudge did also send his plans to me. His pictures, drawings and information were the primary reason for me to wonder about you defining his still as a pot still.

              My remarks:

              1) Packing.
              Is the use of packing conditional to have a reflux still ?
              Smudge uses no packing, but so many industrial columns don't use packing, they have trays instead. Smudge's still has a tall and wide column and it has many horizontal plates, placed so, that they function like simple trays. His still does not operate on single stage reflux as a pot still, but does definitely so in several stages.
              How otherwise could he obtain that purity ?
              Industrial columns that use trays invariably have either loose packing material laid on those trays or things like bubble caps to increase the surface area of the liquid exposed to the vapour.  Even so, they are usually called fractionating towers, rectifiers, or some such description.  They could also be called reflux columns, but that term is usually reserved for columns that are filled with packing material, such as lab gear.  Both use reflux to effect separation, so the distinction could be said to be arbitrary.  Bit like calling a spade a spade and a plough a plough ... both do the same job, but on a different scale.
               
              What Smudge has is a plain, uninsulated column that behaves like a lyne arm, with the smart added feature of discs/flanges that direct the condensed liquid from the walls to the centre of the column.  These are similar to ribbing used in the big industrial columns to do the same job, but in those cases the primary aim is to form pools of liquid on the trays so that bubbling etc can take place.  The liquid in Smudge's still hasn't got the chance to hang around for any length of time at each level, so he's relying on what wet surfaces there are for interchange.  Most of the reflux just shoots right on down back down to the boiler.  It's for that reason that I call it a pot still, as its design and operation is closer to the lyne arm of a whiskey pot still than any of the other types of still.

              2) Uninsulated
              Is the use of insulation conditional to speak of a reflux still ?
              One must create reflux somewhere. With his design, he heats up his room to create reflux, others will heat up the drain with warm water.
              Insulation is usually used with both commercial monsters and small packed reflux stills in order to conserve heat, reason simply being that this makes the interchange procedure more efficient inside the column.  Heaps of sound analysis has been done on that for us to know that this is positively true.  Heat conservation is also a factor in commercial stills of course, so they go to great pains to conserve the heat extracted at the top of their columns and use it usefully elsewhere.  Not worth it in our case with the tiddlers we play around with.
               
              What Smudge is doing is extracting heat through the walls of his still to generate reflux, rather than at the top.  He is also carefully balancing the heat input to the boiler so that the amount of heat introduced is just a bit greater than that lost this way.  This means that there is less and less vapour the further up you go, and the vapour speed therefore gets slower and slower, and vapour is in contact with liquid for longer the closer to the top you go.  This compensates for the loss in efficiency due to heat loss through the column sides, and the inefficient interfacing between liquid and vapour inside.  What finally reaches the top is good, pure stuff, but the price he pays is that the rate of production is very slow.

              3) As far as asking Smudge to publish his design to the group: I'm sure you read some of the posts adressed to Smudge. Would you comfortably share ideas with people who prefer to see you in an asylum ?
              Perhaps if he did publish, then people could see what he's on about.  I must admit to being rather mystified myself at times with some of his descriptions, and it's not much good saying that you have a great still that is the bee's knees (to keep to his bumble bee analogy), but persist in not showing people what it looks like.  You and I have an advantage there and, in fact, I've been kept busy exchanging emails with Smudge over the past couple of weeks trying to explain how his still works the way it does, and how he might improve on that production rate problem (which he has acknowledged as being a pain).  I have to say that it has not been easy, as our lad has rather entrenched ideas on what happens inside a still, and it's been impossible to shake his faith in those beliefs.

              Mike, don't take me wrong about my remarks. For personal use, I would probably modify Smudge's design. I would extend the column to have more stages (less reflux needed), I would insulate it and would create the traditional reflux outside of the column etc.
              No worries Mate!  Under the Seal.  I fully agree with your suggested approach, and I went through the whole nine yards of explaining about the efficiency loss inherent in heat loss from the sides, but suggested that he could nevertheless keep his still uninsulated, and operating the same way as before, but improve separation by filling the spaces between those flanges with packing.  That alone would increase the rate at which he could operate the thing as the rate of separation as you go up his column would speed up markedly as the surface area exposed to vapour would be dramatically increased.  He seemed ready to try that at one stage, then reverted to "no, I'm right ... I win".  Seemed a silly thing to say at the time, particularly as it related to what had been up till then a private exchange of emails and nobody on the list would have had a clue about what it was he had won.  As far as I was concerned, it was never a competition anyway ... simply what he had invited at the beginning: a discussion.

              BUT, I appreciate Smudge's ideas about controlling the still with the temperature sensor on top and I very much admire his polite, steadfast and scientific attitude with which he defends his experiments. I have no problems at all with knowledgeable people saying "I win" when they win.
              It's not the way he chooses to run his still ... he's using the same technique they've been using for ages with traditional whiskey stills ... but I must beg to differ in my assessment of his courtesy and his 'scientific' attitude.  Just between us, he can get a bit heated and irrational when he can't get his head around fairly simple concepts.  I have suggested that he check what I was trying to explain to him with someone else, like Tony, or to check on a few books in the library, but as far as I'm aware he hasn't done that.  As for the latest equation he's put up, it may well be a valid one, but it's not something I've seen before and he didn't provide enough info for analysis.  I'm hoping he will do so soon, as it might be interesting.  On the 'win' thing, can you ever 'win' a discussion?  To me, a discussion is simply a sharing of ideas and information, not a competition. 
               
              In fact, I have a sneaking sympathy for that guy Charlie.  Reading between all the fuming, I sensed a feeling of frustration that he's been led on a bit of a wild goose chase.  Seemed like he felt he'd been trying hard to make sense of a new subject, but has ended up with a mess of contradictory notions just when he thought he was getting the hang of it all.  Rather over the top, I agree, but I've been known to kick the cat on occasions when I'm feeling frustrated :-)
               
              At the end of the day, all that matters really is to try and enjoy this hobby.  If someone is happy with a particular world view, then that's fine by me.  I might disagree, but it's not worth going to war for.
               
              Cheers!
               
              Mike
               

               
            • Mike Nixon
              waljaco wrote: Subject: [Distillers] Re: Goats and other rubbish Obviously pictures speak better than words! Re: Insulation Commercial stills using plates do
              Message 6 of 19 , Apr 1, 2003
                waljaco wrote:
                Subject: [Distillers] Re: Goats and other rubbish

                Obviously pictures speak better than words!
                Re: Insulation
                Commercial stills using plates do not have insulation. Do they compensate by using more power?
                Wal
                ==================================
                Hi Wal,
                 
                I think you will find that they do, as heat is an expensive commodity in big plant.  Tony might have more info on this ... what's the word Tony?
                 
                Mike N
                 
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