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Re: [Distillers] Input needed.

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  • Robert Warren
    ... From: DAVID REID To: Giles Sent: June 1, 2000 6:06:39 AM GMT Subject: Re: [Distillers] Input needed.
    Message 1 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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      robertwarren@...

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