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Continuous Still Design - With Head Removal

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  • jamesflz
    I had a few basic goals with the design of this still. 1. Able to distill large batch without needed a large boiler. 2. Faster distilling. 3. Scaleable. 4. To
    Message 1 of 17 , Mar 22, 2008
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      I had a few basic goals with the design of this still.
      1. Able to distill large batch without needed a large boiler.
      2. Faster distilling.
      3. Scaleable.
      4. To be simplified and inexpensive.
      5. Easy to clean

      Link to diagram of still:
      http://ph.groups.yahoo.com/group/Distillers/photos/view/cf33?b=1&o=2

      Overview of the design.

      5 inch diameter stainless steel column using true bubble-cap plates.
      This diagram shows 6 bubble-cap plates and can use more or less
      depending on desired results. Wash is preheated for the purpose of
      energy conservation and column efficiency. Boiler is 8 quarts,
      planed for 1500w heat source, but this can also be increased or
      decreased depending on desired output rate.

      I know the idea of bubble-cap plates, continuous distilling, head
      removal and even 5in stainless steel column seems far to complicated
      for hobbyist use. That's why I have spent a lot of time on this
      design with a focus on practical construction. I have most of the
      actual still completed, and expect that the cost of
      material "actually used" in this design will be ~ $150 US. So far
      the tests have have run on the system are very promising.

      One of the biggest draw backs from the continuous still idea is the
      fact that the heads are slowly being added with fresh wash. Making
      continuous distilling best for stripping runs. The problem with
      taking the commercial concept of head management to the home design
      is it is too complex with multiple column and a such. However the
      reason the it has to be so complex with those designs is because they
      are having to get the maximum extraction of the ethanol on a single
      run. The concept I am working with here to keep is simple is to
      error on the side of caution. Heads normally make up < 1% of the
      wash. This design draws off the top 5-10% of the distillate taking
      heads and good ethanol with it. The way I see it is on a 40 gallon
      wash @ 12%, There is about 6 gallons of 80% distillate. If 10% of
      that, about 2 liters, has heads in it then I can count it as
      throwbacks and do a batch distilling on it later.

      By using bubble-cap plate we get a more reliable separation in the
      column. This allows the heads to rise to the top can in the column.
      The top can has a 1/4in copper pipe drawing out steam. The second to
      top can has a 3/8 copper pipe drawing out steam. Pressure being
      equal the 1/4in draw would be 10% of the 3/8 draw. Pressure will be
      higher in the second to top can which is why I estimate a 5-10% draw
      from the heads can.

      Each of the 5in diameter, 6in tall stainless steel cans fit snuggly
      into each other. The base can is secured to the lid of the boiler.
      The wash is preheated while cooling the distillate steam before
      entering into the 3rd can up from the boiler. This allows the wash
      to mingle in 3 plates and the boiler before escaping down the drain.
      Waste leaving the boiler will have less than .5 %, which is less than
      the waste water in a boiler after a batch run is complete.

      The bubble-caps are constructed by taking a 1in length of 3/8in
      copper tubing, soldering a U shaped strip of copper on end of the
      tube. Then using a 1/2in copper pipe cap, drilling a small hole in
      the middle of the cap and the center of the U strip. This allows for
      a stainless steel machine screw to attach the cap to the tube. These
      bubble-caps cost about $ .60 each to make. On the bottom of each
      stainless steel can, 3/8in holes are drilled for the bubble-caps and
      down drains. At the base of each cap small holes are drilled to
      allow to smaller bubbling and better mingling.

      Plates below the wash feed need more bubble-caps than those above to
      allow for the flow, design shows use of 6 on those plates. The
      plates above the wash feed only use 3. In both cases it maybe more
      than is really needed with 1500w heat source.

      Since this design uses bubble-cap plates instead of perforated plates
      there is no concern of equilibrium of the plates that puts a
      constraint on flow rate flexibility. Due to the bubble-cap / drain
      plate design there is no concern about debris sticking to the
      packing.

      Please note that I realize that the way the diagram shows the wash
      leaving the bucket is loaded with problems and only showed it this
      way for ease in drawing. I have a plan in mind for maintaining even
      flow rate which I will go into at a later time.

      Also, I know there is a lot of debate in regard to using wash to cool
      the distillate. It is not a big concern to me since the purpose of
      this is to preheat the wash to speed up the process. If the
      distillate comes out warmer than I'd like I will just add a tap water
      cooled sleeve to finish the job.

      I welcome any thoughts and improvements on this design as I bring it
      closer to completion.

      I will also be posting photos and results as I get a little further
      along.
    • Harry
      ... Not so. Rather the reverse. They are designed to maximize extraction of the IMPURITIES from the available ethanol. The concept I am working with here to
      Message 2 of 17 , Mar 22, 2008
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        --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "jamesflz" <jamesflz@...> wrote:
        >>
        > One of the biggest draw backs from the continuous still idea is the
        > fact that the heads are slowly being added with fresh wash.  Making
        > continuous distilling best for stripping runs.  The problem with
        > taking the commercial concept of head management to the home design
        > is it is too complex with multiple column and a such.  However the
        > reason the it has to be so complex with those designs is because they
        > are having to get the maximum extraction of the ethanol on a single
        > run. 


        Not so.  Rather the reverse.  They are designed to maximize extraction of the IMPURITIES from the available ethanol.


        The concept I am working with here to keep is simple is to
        > error on the side of caution.  Heads normally make up < 1% of the
        > wash.  This design draws off the top 5-10% of the distillate taking
        > heads and good ethanol with it.  The way I see it is on a 40 gallon
        > wash @ 12%, There is about 6 gallons of 80% distillate.  If 10% of
        > that, about 2 liters, has heads in it then I can count it as
        > throwbacks and do a batch distilling on it later.


        100% of the wash will contain heads, not 10%.  You said it yourself...
        <quote> "One of the biggest draw backs from the continuous still idea is the fact that the heads are slowly being added with fresh wash." </quote>
        Now, if you're talking about CONCENTRATING those heads continuously in the top section as they are introduced and processed (separated), then that's another story.

        >
        > By using bubble-cap plate we get a more reliable separation in the
        > column.


        I disagree.  Even the bigger column users are switching to a combination of packing and the plates are just a platform to hold the packing.  This is because with packing, separation occurs at every point up the column, not just at a plate.  Much more separation for a given height of column.  I think what you really mean is that it's easier to to CONCENTRATE a certain component at a drawpoint if you have a physical plate there for the liquid to accumulate on.  But if you know much about plates (aka trays) then you will also know that this liquid will only be RICHER in any one component, NOT PURE.  It will still contain other components or substances.  The liquid at these drawpoints is removed and sent for further processing before a PURE product is attainable.


          This allows the heads to rise to the top can in the column. 
        > The top can has a 1/4in copper pipe drawing out steam. 


        As is usual in refining columns, but usually in the 2nd, 3rd or subsequent rectifying columns, not the primart analyser column.

        The second to
        > top can has a 3/8 copper pipe drawing out steam.  Pressure being
        > equal the 1/4in draw would be 10% of the 3/8 draw.  Pressure will be
        > higher in the second to top can which is why I estimate a 5-10% draw
        > from the heads can.

         

        Is this where you are drawing your product?  How can you distinguish between heads and product with just ONE TRAY between them?  Even in the most efficient commercial columns there is always several trays between fraction drawpoints.  This is because separation is not as clear-cut as you are suggesting, but rather there is a gradual change to less of one substance and more of another as you ascend the column. That's fundamental column theory.

        >
        > Each of the 5in diameter, 6in tall stainless steel cans fit snuggly
        > into each other.  The base can is secured to the lid of the boiler.

        It's actually a re-boiler, providing steam for column operation.  It's contents have already been boiled on their way down the column.  Once your column is operational and equilibrated, your wash is preheated and then boiled as it descends through the trays.  The spent wash (mostly water) descends to the re-boiler to be turned into steam which then ascends the column, to boil the descending wash stripping ethanol etc as it goes.


         
        > The wash is preheated while cooling the distillate steam before
        > entering into the 3rd can up from the boiler.  This allows the wash
        > to mingle in 3 plates and the boiler before escaping down the drain. 
        > Waste leaving the boiler will have less than .5 %, which is less than
        > the waste water in a boiler after a batch run is complete.
        >
        > The bubble-caps are constructed by taking a 1in length of 3/8in
        > copper tubing, soldering a U shaped strip of copper on end of the
        > tube.  Then using a 1/2in copper pipe cap, drilling a small hole in
        > the middle of the cap and the center of the U strip.  This allows for
        > a stainless steel machine screw to attach the cap to the tube.  These
        > bubble-caps cost about $ .60 each to make.  On the bottom of each
        > stainless steel can, 3/8in holes are drilled for the bubble-caps and
        > down drains.  At the base of each cap small holes are drilled to
        > allow to smaller bubbling and better mingling.
        >
        > Plates below the wash feed need more bubble-caps than those above to
        > allow for the flow, design shows use of 6 on those plates.  The
        > plates above the wash feed only use 3.  In both cases it maybe more
        > than is really needed with 1500w heat source.
        >
        > Since this design uses bubble-cap plates instead of perforated plates
        > there is no concern of equilibrium of the plates that puts a
        > constraint on flow rate flexibility.  Due to the bubble-cap / drain
        > plate design there is no concern about debris sticking to the
        > packing.


        But a real concern with debris clogging the bubble-caps.  This is why commercial outfits are largely abandoning bubble-caps.  Too much maintenance.  BTW I assume you can pull this column apart to clean said caps?
         
        >
        > Please note that I realize that the way the diagram shows the wash
        > leaving the bucket is loaded with problems and only showed it this
        > way for ease in drawing.  I have a plan in mind for maintaining even
        > flow rate which I will go into at a later time.
        >
        > Also, I know there is a lot of debate in regard to using wash to cool
        > the distillate.  It is not a big concern to me since the purpose of
        > this is to preheat the wash to speed up the process.  If the
        > distillate comes out warmer than I'd like I will just add a tap water
        > cooled sleeve to finish the job.
        >
        > I welcome any thoughts and improvements on this design as I bring it
        > closer to completion.
        >
        > I will also be posting photos and results as I get a little further
        > along.
        >


        After all the critique from me, you may be surprised to know that I'm really looking forward to your continued development of this still.  Please don't take it personal what I've said, it's just constructive comment for the sake of pinpointing any misconceptions.  That's how we learn & move forward.  But in this hobby the feathers tend to get ruffled needlessly.  So yes, you have something that we'd like to see more of.  Keep up the good work.  Good drawing, also.


        Slainte!
        regards Harry

      • jamesflz
        Harry, Thanks for the critique/feedback on my design. I don t take your comments personally. In fact that is a large part of the reason I posted this design,
        Message 3 of 17 , Mar 22, 2008
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          Harry,

          Thanks for the critique/feedback on my design. I don't take your
          comments personally. In fact that is a large part of the reason I
          posted this design, to have other eyes see what I might be missing.

          > 100% of the wash will contain heads, not 10%. You said it
          yourself...

          Yes, all of the wash will contain heads. What I was mean is that the
          goal is to take the top 10% of the distillate out seperately which
          would contain the highest concentration of those heads. Therefore of
          the finished product, only 5-10% would contain heads.

          > Now, if you're talking about CONCENTRATING those heads continuously
          in the top section as they are introduced and processed (separated),
          then that's another story.

          This is my intention.

          > I disagree. Even the bigger column users are switching to a
          combination of packing and the plates are just a platform to hold the
          packing. This is because with packing, separation occurs at every
          point up the column, not just at a plate. Much more separation for a
          given height of column.

          I agree that a combination of both plates/trays and packing does work
          better. The comparison I was making was a column with solely
          plates/trays vs. one with solely packing. Once you get a column
          diameter of more than about 3in I believe that plates are more
          effective. Packing could easily be used in this design, I just think
          it might be overkill and pose an added cost.

          > Is this where you are drawing your product? How can you distinguish
          > between heads and product with just ONE TRAY between them? Even in
          > the most efficient commercial columns there is always several trays
          > between fraction drawpoints. This is because separation is not as
          > clear-cut as you are suggesting, but rather there is a gradual
          > change to less of one substance and more of another as you ascend
          > the column. That's fundamental column theory.

          Let me first say this is excellent feedback here. Let me go into
          this a little more with you. The assumtion I am working from is that
          at the top of the column the heads and finished product would be only
          need 1 "true" plate to seperate. Or really that most of the steam in
          the column would want to rise to the next level, taking first the
          lower boiling temp heads and then as much ethanol as can fit.
          Leaving the purer ethanol left to escape in the 2nd to top can.

          It would be an easy adjustment to add another can or two between
          these two drawing points.

          Another idea would be to put a divider in the 2nd to top can. One
          side would only allow for steam to rise up into the top can. The
          flow back would then drop into the other side of the lower can where
          it can steam up, flow down further, or escape from drawing. I don't
          know if that would allow for enough seperation of the the heads at
          that point or not.

          Let me know your thoughts.

          > But a real concern with debris clogging the bubble-caps. This is
          > why commercial outfits are largely abandoning bubble-caps. Too much
          > maintenance. BTW I assume you can pull this column apart to clean
          > said caps?

          Yes, these caps are constructed so they can be completely removed for
          the still. Unscrewed from each other and cleaned well. It will take
          a lot more work and time to do a good cleaning, but with the volume
          it can handle I think it is worth the work. I intend to do no less
          than a 40gal wash at a time, so that gives me plenty of product for a
          while. So distillings will be much less frequent.

          Thanks again,

          James
        • ragnagna75012 ragnagna75012
          I suggest you read very carefully this : http://www.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5856 and this : http://www.homedistiller.org/cont.htm I dont think
          Message 4 of 17 , Mar 23, 2008
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            I suggest you read very carefully this :
            http://www.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5856
            and this :
            http://www.homedistiller.org/cont.htm

            I dont think that you can properly separate the heads (and the tails) unless you have a very high abv on top of the column.

            I feel 6 trays with a little number of caps as shown wont get you the high abv you need to achieve proper heads separation.

            No reflux ????

            The steam will get out from the small wash drain because of pressure. You need a bigger siphon.



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          • jamesflz
            Thanks for the links, I have already read through both of those topics, along with many other sources. They are great to help prevent reliving pre-exisitng
            Message 5 of 17 , Mar 25, 2008
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              Thanks for the links,

              I have already read through both of those topics, along with many
              other sources. They are great to help prevent reliving pre-exisitng
              problems.

              I have considered that the design may need more than 6 trays. My
              plan is to play with it a little bit to see what is going to work
              best. This design makes it very easy to add (or remove) as many
              trays/cans as needed.

              I know from the experimenting I have done that there are plenty of
              caps per tray to do the job. It is amazing how effective these
              little buggers are, I originally thought I would have to use at least
              12 per tray. If I remember correctly, on the main site there is a 3"
              copper continuous still that uses only 1 or 2 caps per tray.

              No reflux. If it ends up being a requirement I can easily add it,
              but I don't think I'll need it. Since this column is a 5" diameter,
              and currently 3' tall, may end up 6' or better if I add more trays,
              each tray is spaced 6" appart. With only 1500w pushing the column I
              think the surface area of the column will cause a heat loss that will
              provide enough of a natural reflux effect to get the results I'm
              expecting.

              The proof will the in the pudding. I am just about ready to give
              this still a true running, at which point we'll have some hard
              evidence to support the need for design adjustments. Since I haven't
              seen any designs or experience written about continuous head removal
              on the main site, I feel there is a lot of speculation. So if the
              finished product has heads then it needs further adjustments. If no
              heads then adjust design only to personal preference.

              Speaking of, does anyone have any good methods for measuring heads in
              distillate?


              Thanks for the feedback!

              --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, ragnagna75012 ragnagna75012
              <ragnagna75012@...> wrote:
              >
              > I suggest you read very carefully this :
              > http://www.homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5856
              > and this :
              > http://www.homedistiller.org/cont.htm
              >
              > I dont think that you can properly separate the heads (and the
              tails) unless you have a very high abv on top of the column.
              >
              > I feel 6 trays with a little number of caps as shown wont get you
              the high abv you need to achieve proper heads separation.
              >
              > No reflux ????
              >
              > The steam will get out from the small wash drain because of
              pressure. You need a bigger siphon.
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > ---------------------------------
              > Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo!
              Search.
              >
            • abbababbaccc
              For continuous heads removal you need a separate head column. Heads are taken from the top while pure ethanol comes out at the bottom. Just like they do in
              Message 6 of 17 , Mar 25, 2008
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                For continuous heads removal you need a separate head column. Heads
                are taken from the top while pure ethanol comes out at the bottom.
                Just like they do in those big commercial distilleries. I've tried
                that and it works in practice even in our scale. This approach has
                several problems to overcome but that's a whole another story.

                Cheers, Riku

                --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "jamesflz" <jamesflz@...> wrote:
                >
                > > The proof will the in the pudding. I am just about ready to give
                > this still a true running, at which point we'll have some hard
                > evidence to support the need for design adjustments. Since I
                haven't
                > seen any designs or experience written about continuous head
                removal
                > on the main site, I feel there is a lot of speculation. So if the
                > finished product has heads then it needs further adjustments. If
                no
                > heads then adjust design only to personal preference.
                >
                > Speaking of, does anyone have any good methods for measuring heads
                in
                > distillate?
                >
                >
                > Thanks for the feedback!
                >
                >
              • nyykter
                Hi! Happy to see anyone wanting to try this. I feel I ll have to do my part in more or less constructive criticism... ... Agree ... Agree ... Maybe, but your
                Message 7 of 17 , Mar 25, 2008
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                  Hi!

                  Happy to see anyone wanting to try this. I feel I'll have to do my
                  part in more or less constructive criticism...

                  > I had a few basic goals with the design of this still.
                  > 1. Able to distill large batch without needed a large boiler.
                  Agree

                  > 2. Faster distilling.
                  Agree

                  > 3. Scaleable.
                  Maybe, but your design is already huge, cant imagine a hobbyist
                  wanting to extend it anymore..

                  > 4. To be simplified and inexpensive.
                  Disagree. Even the simplest continuous stills I've tried are far mode
                  complicated than an average hobby batch still

                  > 5. Easy to clean
                  OK, maybe


                  > Boiler is 8 quarts,
                  > planed for 1500w heat source, but this can also be increased or
                  > decreased depending on desired output rate.

                  I've used a boiler of a little bit more than one decilitre, to a
                  column width of 2", just the lower 2" length of the column. You dont
                  need more than that. To a 2" column with pot scrubbers as filling, I
                  have used 800 to 2000W. A stripper with 3" had no problems with 3000W,
                  but i didnt use any heat recovery on that.
                  Haven't tried bubble caps, they might work differently though.

                  >
                  > I know the idea of bubble-cap plates, continuous distilling, head
                  > removal and even 5in stainless steel column seems far to complicated
                  > for hobbyist use.
                  Thats what i found too. It might prove useful in a stripper though.



                  On your thougts of heads removal, keep in mind that you will be adding
                  heads with the wash, and extracting it on the top. Even with an ideal
                  column, all heads introduced will have to pass your product takeoff as
                  vapour, and since the product is removed as vapour, all your product
                  will contain heads. I think it will contain less heads than it would
                  without a heads tray, but to utilise this effect you would need a good
                  reflux ratio. It's the reflux that dilutes the heads so to speak.



                  On using bubble caps to avoid clogging, this is the part thats most
                  interesting. I have had trouble with yeast clogging the filling.


                  Good luck, keep us updated!
                • ragnagna75012 ragnagna75012
                  I could not really pinpoint the prob of not having a reflux the other day, now it comes to my mind : I bet that without reflux your trays wont fill up and
                  Message 8 of 17 , Mar 26, 2008
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                    I could not really pinpoint the prob of not having a reflux the other day, now it comes to my mind :
                    I bet that without reflux your trays wont fill up and you`ll end up with a slow and expensive potstill :))

                    I also bet that if you expect the air to cool to a reasonable amount the vapors in the tower, that means your heating is very weak, and that also means you wont distill fast.

                    You wont recover a lot of heat from the distillate cooling most of the heat is in the spent wash (cause it`s water not ethanol and cause the volume is 10 times the volume of the distilate).


                    What %abv do you expect from that thing ?


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                  • jamesflz
                    ... The trays first have to be primed. There are a couple methods for doing this. One is to add wash to all the trays before starting (this is how the
                    Message 9 of 17 , Mar 26, 2008
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                      > I could not really pinpoint the prob of not having a reflux the
                      > other day, now it comes to my mind :
                      > I bet that without reflux your trays wont fill up and you`ll end up
                      > with a slow and expensive potstill :))

                      The trays first have to be primed. There are a couple methods for
                      doing this. One is to add wash to all the trays before starting
                      (this is how the commercial distiller do it), another is to add water
                      to the trays, or lastly what I prefer for this setup: Start the
                      boiler with a little water, let it fill the column with steam, the
                      steam will quickly condense enough to provide needed fluid levels for
                      each tray. Remember these are bubble-cap trays not perforated trays
                      so there is no equilibrium that has to be obtained. At this point
                      start the wash flow, the trays will correct separation within a
                      couple of minutes of starting the wash.

                      This has already proven successful in my test runs.

                      FYI - Reflux still lovers, please don't get mad at me BUT...

                      Another problem I remembered with using reflux and part of the reason
                      I avoided it. The use of reflux makes up for a lack of column height
                      and theoretical plates, this allows for higher ABV from a smaller
                      still design. However it is at the cost speed. We all know that the
                      amount of energy put into the wash, minus heat loss, will determine
                      the amount vapor produced. Part of the effectiveness of a reflux
                      still is at the cost of flushing a percentage of that energy down the
                      drain.

                      Water has a latent heat of evaporation of 970.6 BTU/lb, and ethanol
                      has a latent heat of evaporation of 361 BTU/lb. So when one unit of
                      water vapor gives up it's energy to vaporize 2.7 units of ethanol in
                      the mingling process, the energy is still in use to produce vapors to
                      be collected. Now when water or ethanol vapors give up their latent
                      head of evaporation to a reflux coil, that energy goes down the drain.

                      I would rather use more trays to get the desired ABV and keep the
                      speed.

                      > You wont recover a lot of heat from the distillate cooling most of
                      > the heat is in the spent wash (cause it`s water not ethanol and
                      > cause the volume is 10 times the volume of the distillate).

                      True there is a lot more heat in the spent wash than the distillate
                      vapor. However since the latent head of evaporation of ethanol is
                      about 10 times the amount of energy needed to bring room temperature
                      ethanol to near boiling it doesn't take much to preheat the wash. At
                      the same time the balance should be enough to cool the distillate
                      vapor down.

                      Although I do like Manu's design to recovery heat from the spent
                      wash. I may play with doing something similar.

                      > What %abv do you expect from that thing ?

                      As shown on the diagram, I expect 80-86%. I am happy with that
                      unless it proves necessary to get up to 96% to effectively remove the
                      heads.

                      --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, ragnagna75012 ragnagna75012
                      <ragnagna75012@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I could not really pinpoint the prob of not having a reflux the
                      other day, now it comes to my mind :
                      > I bet that without reflux your trays wont fill up and you`ll end up
                      with a slow and expensive potstill :))
                      >
                      > I also bet that if you expect the air to cool to a reasonable
                      amount the vapors in the tower, that means your heating is very weak,
                      and that also means you wont distill fast.
                      >
                      > You wont recover a lot of heat from the distillate cooling most of
                      the heat is in the spent wash (cause it`s water not ethanol and cause
                      the volume is 10 times the volume of the distilate).
                      >
                      >
                      > What %abv do you expect from that thing ?
                      >
                      >
                      > ---------------------------------
                      > Looking for last minute shopping deals? Find them fast with Yahoo!
                      Search.
                      >
                    • morganfield1
                      ... interesting. I think we all get stuck with what works, and don t think outside the norm. It s good to see someone trying something different, and willing
                      Message 10 of 17 , Mar 26, 2008
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                        > Oh, we're not upset, personally, I find this thread quite
                        interesting. I think we all get stuck with what works, and don't think
                        outside the norm. It's good to see someone trying something different,
                        and willing to put it to the test of oppinion.

                        Tip one, Morgan


                        > FYI - Reflux still lovers, please don't get mad at me BUT...
                        >
                        >
                      • ragnagna75012 ragnagna75012
                        ... vapor. However since the latent head of evaporation of ethanol is about 10 times the amount of energy needed to bring room temperature ethanol to near
                        Message 11 of 17 , Mar 27, 2008
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                          >True there is a lot more heat in the spent wash than the distillate
                          vapor. However since the latent head of evaporation of ethanol is
                          about 10 times the amount of energy needed to bring room temperature
                          ethanol to near boiling it doesn't take much to preheat the wash. At
                          the same time the balance should be enough to cool the distillate
                          vapor down.


                          let's try some estimation with an optimistic 10 % mass wash :
                          water entering the still at 20 C and leaving it at 99 C will take out
                          4,1 kJ*0,9*(99-20)=291 kj /kg of wash

                          291 000 /1500/60 = 3,2 minutes is the time you'll need for a kg of wash (a liter) with 1500w.
                          To that you have to add the heat loss from the boiler and the column.


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                        • markabolton
                          Greetings, I am new to this forum and have only built a cuppla eyeball engineering stills which hve worked quite nicely. I am intrigued by the idea of
                          Message 12 of 17 , Mar 31, 2008
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                            Greetings,

                            I am new to this forum and have only built a cuppla "eyeball
                            engineering" stills which hve worked quite nicely. I am intrigued by
                            the idea of building a continous still for most of the reasons already
                            outlined on the forum.

                            Two things occur to me.

                            One is the nesessity to have a decicive and well designed method of
                            head removal if you are going from wash to potable product in the one
                            process.

                            The other is the hit and miss control of parameters. Has any one
                            considered a PC based micro contoller to fully process control what is
                            happeing in the still? The sensors and control pumps, heaters etc I
                            would get from photo processing machines since I have access to them.

                            Working out how best to set up and automate the process parameter
                            contol etc isnt apparent to me straight away but a little research
                            should cast some light.

                            Would that be over kill? At best it would be interesting to record and
                            tabulate the variable during runs?

                            Has anyone been down this path before?

                            Regards in anticipatiion.

                            Mark
                          • Arsene Lupin
                            What would be overkill and too much anticipation would be to work on the much needed automation prior to having a hand on that very special device. As for
                            Message 13 of 17 , Mar 31, 2008
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                              What would be overkill and too much anticipation would be to work on
                              the much needed automation prior to having a hand on that very special
                              device.

                              As for automation, i'm sure you'll soon be advised to make "a search"
                              on E-ARC and E-AFC :))


                              --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "markabolton" <markabolton@...> wrote:
                              >
                              > Greetings,
                              >
                              > I am new to this forum and have only built a cuppla "eyeball
                              > engineering" stills which hve worked quite nicely. I am intrigued by
                              > the idea of building a continous still for most of the reasons already
                              > outlined on the forum.
                              >
                              > Two things occur to me.
                              >
                              > One is the nesessity to have a decicive and well designed method of
                              > head removal if you are going from wash to potable product in the one
                              > process.
                              >
                              > The other is the hit and miss control of parameters. Has any one
                              > considered a PC based micro contoller to fully process control what is
                              > happeing in the still? The sensors and control pumps, heaters etc I
                              > would get from photo processing machines since I have access to them.
                              >
                              > Working out how best to set up and automate the process parameter
                              > contol etc isnt apparent to me straight away but a little research
                              > should cast some light.
                              >
                              > Would that be over kill? At best it would be interesting to record and
                              > tabulate the variable during runs?
                              >
                              > Has anyone been down this path before?
                              >
                              > Regards in anticipatiion.
                              >
                              > Mark
                              >
                            • abbababbaccc
                              The best way to approach this kind of setup is to start it simple. Your first goal should be a continuous still/stripper that produces as high ABV as possible.
                              Message 14 of 17 , Mar 31, 2008
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                                The best way to approach this kind of setup is to start it simple.
                                Your first goal should be a continuous still/stripper that produces as
                                high ABV as possible. Once that is done you need to cut off tails and
                                boost the ABV to 95.6%. After that you attach a heads separation
                                column to the system and in theory you will get pure ethanol out of
                                your still.

                                This is achievable with three columns and should even be doable with
                                two. The control system is a story of it's own but things like E-ARC
                                and E-AFC certainly make life easier while avoiding overcomplication.
                                I think E-AFC was not discussed in length in this group but you may
                                find something with a search.

                                Cheers, Riku

                                --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "Arsene Lupin" <ragnagna75012@...>
                                wrote:
                                >
                                > What would be overkill and too much anticipation would be to work on
                                > the much needed automation prior to having a hand on that very
                                special
                                > device.
                                >
                                > As for automation, i'm sure you'll soon be advised to make "a search"
                                > on E-ARC and E-AFC :))
                                >
                                >
                                >
                              • markabolton
                                That s certainly the way I would approach a project like this. Build the hardware after having studied a bit of theory and then run it using manual temperature
                                Message 15 of 17 , Apr 1, 2008
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                                  That's certainly the way I would approach a project like this. Build
                                  the hardware after having studied a bit of theory and then run it
                                  using manual temperature control etc. After getting a feel for how the
                                  thing would perform optimaly then I would build the interface and
                                  write the program.

                                  It's just that all the photoprocessing equipment I have ever worked on
                                  is far less delicate in the variables that it needs to deal with but
                                  they are invariably process controlled.

                                  Thank you for the tips on the A ERC etc an Yes I will do a seach since
                                  it is an age since I designed a machine controller and the systems
                                  were very diffent then .

                                  The interface circuitry hasn't changed much though.

                                  Regards MArk
                                • abbababbaccc
                                  The problem is not writing or designing a software or control system. The big challenge is in understanding what s happening inside your still and that part
                                  Message 16 of 17 , Apr 1, 2008
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                                    The problem is not writing or designing a software or control
                                    system. The big challenge is in understanding what's happening
                                    inside your still and that part comes via trial and error.

                                    Cheers, Riku

                                    --- In Distillers@yahoogroups.com, "markabolton" <markabolton@...>
                                    wrote:
                                    >
                                    > That's certainly the way I would approach a project like this.
                                    Build
                                    > the hardware after having studied a bit of theory and then run it
                                    > using manual temperature control etc. After getting a feel for how
                                    the
                                    > thing would perform optimaly then I would build the interface and
                                    > write the program.
                                    >
                                    > It's just that all the photoprocessing equipment I have ever
                                    worked on
                                    > is far less delicate in the variables that it needs to deal with
                                    but
                                    > they are invariably process controlled.
                                    >
                                    > Thank you for the tips on the A ERC etc an Yes I will do a seach
                                    since
                                    > it is an age since I designed a machine controller and the systems
                                    > were very diffent then .
                                    >
                                    > The interface circuitry hasn't changed much though.
                                    >
                                    > Regards MArk
                                    >
                                  • Arsene Lupin
                                    Hi James, Any progress ? Your design still puzzles me, I ve never seen a continuous column without reflux. The closest from that is the adams still which is
                                    Message 17 of 17 , Apr 2, 2008
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                                      Hi James,
                                      Any progress ?
                                      Your design still puzzles me, I 've never seen a continuous column
                                      without reflux. The closest from that is the adams still which is
                                      something like a 3 thumper potstill (see alcohol& denaturing @ library).

                                      Yeah ! I think i found the prob with not having reflux!!!!
                                      At the bottom you provide x joules to a 10% (or so )wash, but at the
                                      top of the column your x joules are transfered to a 80% wash, and that
                                      means you will vaporise much more ethanol than you input.
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