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RE: [Distillers] Input needed.

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  • Robert Warren
    Pelle, Nice drawing, but keep your torch in the tool drawer (for now) If you are going to the trouble of building a bigger still, assuming it is becasue you
    Message 1 of 5 , May 31 7:33 AM
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      Pelle,
      Nice drawing, but keep your torch in the tool
      drawer (for now)
      If you are going to the trouble of building a
      bigger still, assuming it is becasue you want more
      output, then why not do it right? All of the
      problems you folks on the distillers' newletter
      group are having with trying to make minor changes
      to a very old style pot still were solved over
      twenty years ago with the design and creation of
      the Charles 803 still.
      First of all, separate your boiler from your
      reflux column because it is far easier to control
      steam flow into your reflux chamber than it is to
      control the rate of boiling in a big pot, once it
      starts to boil. Since you are using electricity
      for your cooker, you have the same problems any
      cook using an electric stove has, once you get up
      to boiling temperature. The pot boils over, right?
      Secondly, you have no temperature control inside
      your reflux chamber. Big mistake. That is
      precisely where you want temp control, that is
      where all the action is. Read my treatise on how
      reflux works in Chapter 2 of my book. First, go to
      http://journeytoforever.org/ethanol_robert1.html
      to see a photo of my still and get some
      background, then either
      follow the links on my web site or go to
      http://journeytoforever.org/ethanol_still2.html
      to see a diagram of the whole set-up, and read
      about how reflux works.
      If you plan to use stainless steel, you will end
      up getting the bottom end clogged with foam and
      carbon particulates. It may work fine on a small
      scale, but as the size of your pot increases, so
      does your steam head.
      Finally, if you are convinced after reading the
      materials on the Charles 803 model still, again,
      just follow the links and you can order the
      blueprints and the book that goes with it, for
      $25.00.
      You will blow more than that in copper fittings
      and spoiled batches if you decide to experimetn
      without the benifit of an old-timer's advise.
      Regards, Robert Warren.

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    • Giles
      ... Don t get me wrong here. I love the Charles 803, and I d love to own one if i could afford to build one. But surely its better to regulate the heat input
      Message 2 of 5 , May 31 3:12 PM
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        On 31 May 00, at 10:33, Robert Warren wrote:

        > it is far easier to control
        > steam flow into your reflux chamber than it is to
        > control the rate of boiling in a big pot, once it
        > starts to boil. Since you are using electricity
        > for your cooker, you have the same problems any
        > cook using an electric stove has, once you get up
        > to boiling temperature. The pot boils over, right?
        Don't get me wrong here. I love the Charles 803, and I'd love to own
        one if i could afford to build one.
        But surely its better to regulate the heat input than dissipate heat
        once its inside the still.
        I reduce the heat input to my 'old style' still to the bare minimum
        that acheives optimum performance and I insulate the whole
        apparatus except the condenser. This combination seems to
        control the temperature at the still head very effectively. I can
        understand the need to regulate the temperature in the reflux
        chamber with water if using say a wood fire to heat the wash, its
        the best solution and as accurate as the sensitivity of the valve can
        make it. If the heat source is electricity, however, at least that
        degree of control is acheivable using an electronic control circuit at
        the point where the energy enters the system. Result - less wasted
        energy and a very efficient still.
        (given that generating electricity is already highly *inefficient*)
      • Ackland, Tony (CALNZAS)
        ... and amount/hour? Pelle, Thats quite a scale up over the prototype. All for personal consumption ? Its a bit beyond where I reckon my calculations are at
        Message 3 of 5 , May 31 3:38 PM
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          > Will it work and what kind of output can I expect in regard to purity
          and amount/hour?

          Pelle,

          Thats quite a scale up over the prototype. All for personal consumption ?

          Its a bit beyond where I reckon my calculations are at least ballpark, but
          anyways, heres what i got, using the calculator at
          http://www.geocities.com/kiwi_distiller/reflux_calc.htm
          <http://www.geocities.com/kiwi_distiller/reflux_calc.htm> .

          Time to heat up to temperature : 6 hours
          Output - around 93% purity, initially at 9.5 L/hour, then dropping off over
          time , and total distilling time about 16-20 hours for reflux ratio = 1/1,
          however 1.8 L/hour and time of 80+ hours if you require reflux ratio 10/1 to
          keep the purity high.

          Why the 300mm gap between the top of packing & return of liquid ? Better to
          utilise this space with more packing.

          You're way into the commercial side of things with this scale, all the
          things which you can get away with as a hobbyist will start to bite you, eg
          you'll need a fair bit of attention to the construction, design, strengths,
          material thickness & grades used, how to retain the packing so as to prevent
          compaction or channelling of the liquid/vapour (may require liquid
          redistributors), how to keep the packing from clogging, temperature control,
          automatic control so you can run it for the timeperiods indicated,
          insulation to minimise heat losses, safety around delivery of 10 kW heating,
          how to fill/empty & clean the system, fire extinguishers, storage of large
          volumes of flammable liquids, environmentally sound disposal methods for the
          spent wash, efficient fermentation (and temperature control during
          fermentation), cooling coil design & operation, etc.

          Consider the cooling coil - you are delivering 10 kW to the system, thus the
          cooling needs to be able to remove the same amount of energy; the size you
          have indicated is the same as that recommended for 1kW systems.

          Whats the cost of a commercial distillery doing this sort of volume ? $0.5
          million at a guess. Theres good reasons for spending that sort of dosh.

          Tony
        • DAVID REID
          Giles, In many ways I couldnt agree with you more. Insulation is very important and the improvement out of a properly insulated still is dramatic. This
          Message 4 of 5 , May 31 11:06 PM
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            Giles,
                      In many ways I couldnt agree with you more. Insulation is very important and the improvement out of a properly insulated still is dramatic. This includes not only the column but the boiler as well. The other factor that then enters into the problem is the need for very precise, even, and accurate control of the heat source.
            The problem here is that we are dealing with different problems. With home distillation for consumption purity is essential  and the cost of distillation on small batches is not so important whereas the opposite tends to be true for  ethanol that is produced for running a vehicle. ie. cost of production for a big batch is more important than a few points of purity.
            I nevertheless tend to agree with Robert who recently quoted  Dr Armory Lovins in regards to using electric heat who said "Using electricity to produce heat (via resistance) is like using bottled water to water your lawn". For the purpose of distilling  ethanol for  fuel the Charles 803 is a good budget still. Wood is a rather poor alternative as a heat source as it is not as easily controlled and needs to be carefully watched and monitored at all times and its only major advantages are its cheapness and its ready availability. Having a separate boiler is therefore a good solution. Gas is a much better heat source and is readily, quickly, and accurately controlled but like all heat sources you have to purchase it costs.
            I have had a good look at the plans for this still, believe I can improve it (although obviously at increased cost), and am working on that at present. Please see e-mail to Robert to come which I will put on both the distillers and biofuel n.gs.
            B.r.,  David    
             
             
            -----Original Message-----
            From: Giles <giles@...>
            To: Distillers@egroups.com <Distillers@egroups.com>
            Date: Thursday, June 01, 2000 6:48 PM
            Subject: RE: [Distillers] Input needed.

            >On 31 May 00, at 10:33, Robert Warren wrote:
            >
            >> it is far easier to control
            >> steam flow
            into your reflux chamber than it is to
            >> control the rate of boiling
            in a big pot, once it
            >> starts to boil. Since you are  using
            electricity
            >> for your cooker, you have the same problems
            any
            >> cook using an electric stove has, once you get up
            >> to
            boiling temperature. The pot boils over, right?
            >Don't get me wrong here.
            I love the Charles 803, and I'd love to own
            >one if i could afford to
            build one.
            >But surely its better to regulate the heat input than
            dissipate heat
            >once its inside the still.
            >I reduce the heat
            input to  my 'old style' still to the bare minimum
            >that acheives
            optimum performance and I insulate the whole
            >apparatus except the
            condenser. This combination seems to
            >control the temperature at the
            still head very effectively. I can
            >understand the need to regulate the
            temperature in the reflux
            >chamber with water if using say a wood fire to
            heat the wash, its
            >the best solution and as accurate as the sensitivity
            of the valve can
            >make it. If the heat source is electricity, however, at
            least that
            >degree of control is acheivable using an electronic control
            circuit at
            >the point where the energy enters the system. Result - less
            wasted
            >energy   and a very efficient still.
            >(given that
            generating electricity is already highly *inefficient*)
            >
            >------------------------------------------------------------------------
            >Scrap
            your search engine.
            >Inforocket.com is the fast way to the right answer -
            guaranteed.
            >
            href="http://click.egroups.com/1/4517/5/_/441693/_/959842120/">http://click.egroups.com/1/4517/5/_/441693/_/959842120/
            >------------------------------------------------------------------------
            >
            >
            >
          • Robert Warren
            ... From: DAVID REID To: Giles Sent: June 1, 2000 6:06:39 AM GMT Subject: Re: [Distillers] Input needed.
            Message 5 of 5 , Jun 1, 2000
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              ------Original Message------
              From: "DAVID REID" <nzag@...>
              To: "Giles" <giles@...>
              Sent: June 1, 2000 6:06:39 AM GMT
              Subject: Re: [Distillers] Input needed.

              Dear David, Giles, et al,
              The issue of insulation on the reflux column is
              indeed a design issue. I couldn't say
              categorically whether one should or shouldn't
              insulate. It really depends more on where you live
              and what time of year you are running your still.
              The very phenomenum of reflux happens because you
              are controlling the loss of heat at a controlled
              rate, ideally. You can control it by pulling the
              heat into the cooling water coils (conduction)--
              inside the reflux column (in the Charles 803
              still)-- as well as by losing it out the outside
              of the reflux column by having it radiate outward
              into space (convection and radiation: this is what
              all those of you with pot stills are doing). Now,
              if you are in a cold climate, or are running the
              still on a windy day, this changes everything and
              you would want to insulate. I did most of my
              distilling in the Sacramento Valley in Calif. in
              the summer when it was 90 to 100 everyday
              throughout the summer. So we wanted to get rid of
              as much heat as we could as we were after a high
              production rate with as little use of energy as we
              could, so we didn't want or need insulation. On
              cold winter days, we would move the still inside
              and wrap it with a fiberglass batt. If you want to
              heat with electricity, that is up to you, and it
              is easy to control with a thermostat, but only
              after it has started to boil. It is at that first
              moment when it starts to boil that it gets out of
              control, and I haven't seen an electrical
              thermostat that can respond fast enough to handle
              that. The automatic temperature valve I use
              responds instantly, and it can control a much
              larger stream of water if you are going for a
              larger still design.
              Now, you can also get a gas valve that controls
              the temperature fairly precicely, and maybe even
              for free. There is one on every gas water heater
              sold. They work great, but you have to adjust the
              temperature range, as you will likely want to set
              it for about 200 F, depending on the alcohol
              concentration of your wash or mash. Look at the
              tables on Tony's web site for these figures on the
              boiling temp of the mash.
              You would have to take a water heater valve apart
              to get it to go this high, or you can order one
              rated for higher BTU's. There is an interesting
              device called a flame switch, made by the
              RobertShaw Corp for only $25.00 US. It has a
              capillary tube for the sensor, and it can turn
              flame on and off at a high temp. There are two
              types. One type is for shutting off the gas when
              your pilot dies (low end, wrong type) and the
              other is designed for self-cleaning ovens (high
              temp) and I think it could be adapted to your
              purposes. I will try to get more specs on this
              devices, as it is hard to tell from my industrial
              catalogue if there is any adjustment setting. It
              has a simple series electrical switch, so you
              would need an electronic controlled gas valve, as
              well. You can get one of those for only about
              $40.00.
              Then all you need is the burner itself. You should
              be able to cannabalize a burner from a water
              heater or an old range from the junk yard.
              David, I will be reviewing some of your ideas for
              improving the Charles 803 very seriously, and get
              back to you. These are good points you raise and I
              need to think about this a bit and get back to
              you.
              Regards,
              Robert

              Giles,
              In many ways I couldnt agree with you more.
              Insulation is very important and the improvement
              out of a properly insulated still is dramatic.
              This includes not only the column but the boiler
              as well. The other factor that then enters into
              the problem is the need for very precise, even,
              and accurate control of the heat source.
              The problem here is that we are dealing with
              different problems. With home distillation for
              consumption purity is essential and the cost of
              distillation on small batches is not so important
              whereas the opposite tends to be true for ethanol
              that is produced for running a vehicle. ie. cost
              of production for a big batch is more important
              than a few points of purity.
              I nevertheless tend to agree with Robert who
              recently quoted Dr Armory Lovins in regards to
              using electric heat who said "Using electricity to
              produce heat (via resistance) is like using
              bottled water to water your lawn". For the purpose
              of distilling ethanol for fuel the Charles 803
              is a good budget still. Wood is a rather poor
              alternative as a heat source as it is not as
              easily controlled and needs to be carefully
              watched and monitored at all times and its only
              major advantages are its cheapness and its ready
              availability. Having a separate boiler is
              therefore a good solution. Gas is a much better
              heat source and is readily, quickly, and
              accurately controlled but like all heat sources
              you have to purchase it costs.
              I have had a good look at the plans for this
              still, believe I can improve it (although
              obviously at increased cost), and am working on
              that at present. Please see e-mail to Robert to
              come which I will put on both the distillers and
              biofuel n.gs.
              B.r., David


              -----Original Message-----
              From: Giles <giles@...>
              To: Distillers@egroups.com
              <Distillers@egroups.com>
              Date: Thursday, June 01, 2000 6:48 PM
              Subject: RE: [Distillers] Input needed.


              >On 31 May 00, at 10:33, Robert Warren wrote:
              >
              >> it is far easier to control
              >> steam flow into your reflux chamber than it is
              to
              >> control the rate of boiling in a big pot, once
              it
              >> starts to boil. Since you are using
              electricity
              >> for your cooker, you have the same problems any
              >> cook using an electric stove has, once you get
              up
              >> to boiling temperature. The pot boils over,
              right?
              >Don't get me wrong here. I love the Charles 803,
              and I'd love to own
              >one if i could afford to build one.
              >But surely its better to regulate the heat input
              than dissipate heat
              >once its inside the still.
              >I reduce the heat input to my 'old style' still
              to the bare minimum
              >that acheives optimum performance and I insulate
              the whole
              >apparatus except the condenser. This combination
              seems to
              >control the temperature at the still head very
              effectively. I can
              >understand the need to regulate the temperature
              in the reflux
              >chamber with water if using say a wood fire to
              heat the wash, its
              >the best solution and as accurate as the
              sensitivity of the valve can
              >make it. If the heat source is electricity,
              however, at least that
              >degree of control is acheivable using an
              electronic control circuit at
              >the point where the energy enters the system.
              Result - less wasted
              >energy and a very efficient still.
              >(given that generating electricity is already
              highly *inefficient*)
              >
              ---------------
              >

              ****************
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              OO-(_)-OOo--
              ****************
              robertwarren@...

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