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Re: [new_distillers] Still improvement question

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  • John Vandermeulen
    Hello deno, It sounds as if your column is behaving like a potstill set-up. But let s have some more information. 1) what is your wash, and what is the
    Message 1 of 17 , Dec 1, 2002
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      Hello deno,
      It sounds as if your column is behaving like a potstill set-up. But let's
      have some more information.
      1) what is your wash, and what is the potential alcohol content
      2) how big is your boiler; what and how much heat source
      3) Is the water line to the condenser the only source of cooling
      4) How long is the lyne arm; what sort of condenser
      5) You write that the column-temp. stays around 93oC. What is the behavior
      before it reaches that temp, does it simply climb without stopping anywhere?
      John V


      deno752002 wrote:

      > I've given my new still a few more runs. I am finding it difficult if
      > not impossible to get the still to run with the column head
      > temperature below 90 degrees C.
      >
      > On the last run it stayed at about 93 degrees pretty well the whole
      > time untill the run was finished and I wound up with distilate at
      > 55% which matches Tony's graph for vapour alcohol content.
      >
      > I want to get the percentage in the distillate up a bit - more
      > like an easily achievable 80% for which I would need a column head
      > vapour temp of about the mid 80s. (Am I basiccally correct
      > here??)
      >
      > At the moment my column is 2" by 2 feet high with scrubbers for 18
      > inches in it. Would lengething the height of the column by 380mm (15
      > inches) and adding another foot or so of scrubbers allow it to run
      > with a cooler head vapour temp?
      >
      > If not I might just have to make an internal reflux coil for it after
      > all.
      >
      > Any suggestions most welcome.
      >
      > There is a photo of the still in it's current form at;
      >
      > http://www.oldengine.org/members/dene/still.htm
      >
      > Thanks in advance
      > Dene
      > getctat the top of the column
      >
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    • deno752002
      ... In the last run it when it sat at 93 it was a 10% alcohol and water mix. Basically the alcohol that I d distilled from previous runs re-diluted. ...
      Message 2 of 17 , Dec 1, 2002
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        > 1) what is your wash, and what is the potential alcohol content

        In the last run it when it sat at 93 it was a 10% alcohol and water
        mix. Basically the alcohol that I'd distilled from previous runs
        re-diluted.

        > 2) how big is your boiler; what and how much heat source

        Boiler is just under 5 litres and the heat source is capable of 1350
        watts although I run it at a lot less than that after it has
        initially warmed up

        > 3) Is the water line to the condenser the only source of cooling

        Yes. There is no cooling coil in the top of the column and the hose
        into the condenser is the only source of condenser cooling. On the
        last run I had added a bag of ice to the condenser water as well to
        get it really cool.

        > 4) How long is the lyne arm; what sort of condenser

        The condenser is just a coil (5 metres or so) in a drum. Lyne
        arm is about 8 inches long. The two are connected with a foot or so
        of food grade plastic hose. Once the technicalities of the still are
        worked out and it's all working properly I'll do away with the plastic
        and make something out of copper.

        > 5) You write that the column-temp. stays around 93oC. What
        > is the behavior before it reaches that temp, does it
        > simply climb without stopping anywhere?

        Pretty much. It sits at about 24 degrees (ambient) then once the
        boiler gets up to the mid nineties, the head temp takes a fairly
        sudden rise to the low nineties. I've been getting the boiler temp to
        sit around 94 for ten minutes or so (to let the column warm up slowly)
        and then slowly creeping the boiler temp up to about 96 or 7 for the
        run and holding it around there.

        Thanks

        Dene
        > > There is a photo of the still in it's current form at;
        > >
        > > http://www.oldengine.org/members/dene/still.htm
      • homedistiller
        Hi Dene, Just some loose ideas... Improvements that you could apply instantly: Fill the column entirely with scrubbers, loose enough. It will give you
        Message 3 of 17 , Dec 1, 2002
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          Hi Dene,

          Just some loose ideas...

          Improvements that you could apply instantly:

          Fill the column entirely with scrubbers, loose enough. It will give
          you instantly a virtually longer column.

          Don't insulate the top part of the column. It's a dirty trick really
          but it will probably provide you some hard-needed reflux. More reflux
          will give you higher purity. Remember, it will also take more time
          because reflux means: you are redistilling.

          Don't try to control the boiling temperature of the wash. This is
          impossible, it's a basic law of physics. All one can do is monitor
          it. It can tell you how much alcohol is left in the wash. As the
          ethanol is getting distilled out of the wash, the boiling point will
          rise.

          Only provide the amount of heat necessary to keep the wash slowly
          boiling and so that enough vapour keeps your column happy, so to
          speak. This should be visible when you monitor lower vapour
          temperatures at the top of your column. Closer you can come to the 78
          degrees Celcius, higher the purity will be.

          Greetings,
          Dirk




          --- In new_distillers@y..., "deno752002" <waterline@o...> wrote:
          > I've given my new still a few more runs. I am finding it difficult
          if
          > not impossible to get the still to run with the column head
          > temperature below 90 degrees C.
          >
          > On the last run it stayed at about 93 degrees pretty well the whole
          > time untill the run was finished and I wound up with distilate at
          > 55% which matches Tony's graph for vapour alcohol content.
          >
          > I want to get the percentage in the distillate up a bit - more
          > like an easily achievable 80% for which I would need a column head
          > vapour temp of about the mid 80s. (Am I basiccally correct
          > here??)
          >
          > At the moment my column is 2" by 2 feet high with scrubbers for 18
          > inches in it. Would lengething the height of the column by 380mm
          (15
          > inches) and adding another foot or so of scrubbers allow it to run
          > with a cooler head vapour temp?
          >
          > If not I might just have to make an internal reflux coil for it
          after
          > all.
          >
          > Any suggestions most welcome.
          >
          > There is a photo of the still in it's current form at;
          >
          > http://www.oldengine.org/members/dene/still.htm
          >
          > Thanks in advance
          > Dene
          > getctat the top of the column
        • Dene Oehme
          ... Thanks Dirk - Giving it all a try now. Will let you know how it goes. I ve also lengthened my column to just under 1 metre. Dene
          Message 4 of 17 , Dec 1, 2002
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            > Hi Dene,
            > Just some loose ideas...
            > Fill the column entirely with scrubbers,
            > Don't insulate the top part of the column.
            > Don't try to control the boiling temperature of the wash.

            Thanks Dirk - Giving it all a try now. Will let you know how it goes.
            I've also lengthened my column to just under 1 metre.

            Dene
          • Dene Oehme
            ... Ok.....New Question...... I ve just run the still with the improvements Dirk suggested and the longer fully packed column. It ran with a head temp at
            Message 5 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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              --- In new_distillers@y..., "Dene Oehme" <waterline@o...> wrote:
              >
              > > Hi Dene,
              > > Just some loose ideas...
              > > Fill the column entirely with scrubbers,
              > > Don't insulate the top part of the column.
              > > Don't try to control the boiling temperature of the wash.
              >
              > Thanks Dirk - Giving it all a try now. Will let you know
              > how it goes. I've also lengthened my column to just
              > under 1 metre.

              Ok.....New Question...... I've just run the still with the
              improvements Dirk suggested and the longer fully packed column. It
              ran with a head temp at around 79 - 80oC for most of the run,
              increasing gradually towards the end but never over 88 or so. How
              come I still got a distilate of only 50% average?

              I was measuring alcohol percentage every 60 mils or so and the best
              was the first at just under 80%. The rest were lower, dropping
              proportionally throughout the run even though the head temp was still
              around 80 degrees for most of the run. I thought with the head temp
              around there I should be looking at about 90%. What am I not
              understanding correctly??

              Thanks in advance

              Confused.
            • Dene Oehme
              ... Makes sense but what about the pressure build up in the boiler and column? This thing is by no means a pressure vessel and would quickly come apart at
              Message 6 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                > If you cut off the amount you take off you force it
                > back down the reflux column allowing it to redistillate
                > and hence become more pure.

                Makes sense but what about the pressure build up in the boiler and
                column? This thing is by no means a "pressure vessel" and would
                quickly come apart at the seams even under relatively low pressure.

                Dene
              • Brian Rowe
                In my very limited experience looking at the pic of your still you have no control over the amount of distillate that you are taking off. I d say you need some
                Message 7 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                  In my very limited experience looking at the pic of your still you have no
                  control over the amount of distillate that you are taking off.
                  I'd say you need some way of controlling how much you take off. The most
                  basic is a ball valve but its pretty hit and miss. With a needle valve you
                  get more accuracy.
                  If you cut off the amount you take off you force it back down the reflux
                  column allowing it to redistillate and hence become more pure. You should
                  also find that as the % becomes higher the head temp will drop. If you
                  restrict output entirely allowing total reflux the the head temp should
                  settle at a temp about 78 - 78.5.

                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: "Dene Oehme" <waterline@...>
                  To: <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                  Sent: Monday, December 02, 2002 8:12 PM
                  Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Still improvement question


                  > --- In new_distillers@y..., "Dene Oehme" <waterline@o...> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > > Hi Dene,
                  > > > Just some loose ideas...
                  > > > Fill the column entirely with scrubbers,
                  > > > Don't insulate the top part of the column.
                  > > > Don't try to control the boiling temperature of the wash.
                  > >
                  > > Thanks Dirk - Giving it all a try now. Will let you know
                  > > how it goes. I've also lengthened my column to just
                  > > under 1 metre.
                  >
                  > Ok.....New Question...... I've just run the still with the
                  > improvements Dirk suggested and the longer fully packed column. It
                  > ran with a head temp at around 79 - 80oC for most of the run,
                  > increasing gradually towards the end but never over 88 or so. How
                  > come I still got a distilate of only 50% average?
                  >
                  > I was measuring alcohol percentage every 60 mils or so and the best
                  > was the first at just under 80%. The rest were lower, dropping
                  > proportionally throughout the run even though the head temp was still
                  > around 80 degrees for most of the run. I thought with the head temp
                  > around there I should be looking at about 90%. What am I not
                  > understanding correctly??
                  >
                  > Thanks in advance
                  >
                  > Confused.
                  >
                  >
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                • Brian Rowe
                  Good point !!! Thank god you didn t follow my advice. Ok more lateral thinking needed. ... From: Dene Oehme To:
                  Message 8 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                    Good point !!!
                    Thank god you didn't follow my advice.
                    Ok more lateral thinking needed.
                    ----- Original Message -----
                    From: "Dene Oehme" <waterline@...>
                    To: <new_distillers@yahoogroups.com>
                    Sent: Monday, December 02, 2002 8:58 PM
                    Subject: [new_distillers] Re: Still improvement question


                    >
                    > > If you cut off the amount you take off you force it
                    > > back down the reflux column allowing it to redistillate
                    > > and hence become more pure.
                    >
                    > Makes sense but what about the pressure build up in the boiler and
                    > column? This thing is by no means a "pressure vessel" and would
                    > quickly come apart at the seams even under relatively low pressure.
                    >
                    > Dene
                    >
                    >
                    >
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                    >
                    >
                  • peter_vcb
                    only 50%?? are you sure of this. try putting your alcoholometer in some water to see if it is reading ok, then try it in some commercial spirits (without
                    Message 9 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                      only 50%?? are you sure of this. try putting your alcoholometer in
                      some water to see if it is reading ok, then try it in some commercial
                      spirits (without sugar). does it taste like 50%. my old column was
                      only 680mm packed and i easily got 92% from it (with reflux). how
                      many ml/min are you collecting at. with a 1m column and a variable
                      power contol you should be in the 90's even with no forced reflux. if
                      you turn down the power enough the vapour will travel slowly up the
                      column leading to more time for separation and if the power is low
                      enough it will have sufficient internal reflux for a pure distillate.
                      try aiming for about 10 or 20ml/min i.e. about 1 or 2 700ml bottles
                      per hour. you mention diluting distillate back down to 10% leaving it
                      strong will obviously give you a stonger output, the main reason for
                      diluting back down is just to ensure your elements will still be
                      covered in liquid when you are coming near the end of a run, you have
                      no reason to dilute it back down since you have no elements. try
                      blowing through your column to see if it is packed too tightly. also
                      how are you measuring the percentage of such small amounts?




                      --- In new_distillers@y..., "Dene Oehme" <waterline@o...> wrote:
                      > --- In new_distillers@y..., "Dene Oehme" <waterline@o...> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > > Hi Dene,
                      > > > Just some loose ideas...
                      > > > Fill the column entirely with scrubbers,
                      > > > Don't insulate the top part of the column.
                      > > > Don't try to control the boiling temperature of the wash.
                      > >
                      > > Thanks Dirk - Giving it all a try now. Will let you know
                      > > how it goes. I've also lengthened my column to just
                      > > under 1 metre.
                      >
                      > Ok.....New Question...... I've just run the still with the
                      > improvements Dirk suggested and the longer fully packed column. It
                      > ran with a head temp at around 79 - 80oC for most of the run,
                      > increasing gradually towards the end but never over 88 or so. How
                      > come I still got a distilate of only 50% average?
                      >
                      > I was measuring alcohol percentage every 60 mils or so and the best
                      > was the first at just under 80%. The rest were lower, dropping
                      > proportionally throughout the run even though the head temp was
                      still
                      > around 80 degrees for most of the run. I thought with the head
                      temp
                      > around there I should be looking at about 90%. What am I not
                      > understanding correctly??
                      >
                      > Thanks in advance
                      >
                      > Confused.
                    • homedistiller
                      Dene, How much distillate did you collect ? You have a very small boiler. A 4 liter wash at 10% will give you only 0.4 liter 80% (= what you measured). And for
                      Message 10 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                        Dene,

                        How much distillate did you collect ?
                        You have a very small boiler. A 4 liter wash at 10% will give you
                        only 0.4 liter 80% (= what you measured). And for you, this is a
                        theoretical, since there isn't much to control the reflux in your
                        column. Towards the end of the distillation you need much increased
                        reflux to get some purity. As Peter advises, trim the heat input to
                        the very minimum when you have a boil. This will give the highest
                        natural reflux possible with your set-up. And indeed when you
                        redistill,there is no need to dilute the distillate: it makes you
                        just run in circles.

                        See also Tony's site:
                        http://homedistiller.org/dtw.htm#collect
                        http://homedistiller.org/theory.htm#strong

                        Greetings,
                        Dirk

                        > Ok.....New Question...... I've just run the still with the
                        > improvements Dirk suggested and the longer fully packed column. It
                        > ran with a head temp at around 79 - 80oC for most of the run,
                        > increasing gradually towards the end but never over 88 or so. How
                        > come I still got a distilate of only 50% average?
                        >
                        > I was measuring alcohol percentage every 60 mils or so and the best
                        > was the first at just under 80%. The rest were lower, dropping
                        > proportionally throughout the run even though the head temp was
                        still
                        > around 80 degrees for most of the run. I thought with the head
                        temp
                        > around there I should be looking at about 90%. What am I not
                        > understanding correctly??
                        >
                        > Thanks in advance
                        >
                        > Confused.
                      • Dene Oehme
                        Thanks for the response Peter, Alcometer reads zero in water - heven t got anything to check the top end with. With my limited experience it does taste like
                        Message 11 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                          Thanks for the response Peter,

                          Alcometer reads zero in water - heven't got anything to check the top
                          end with. With my limited experience it does taste like 50%

                          > if the power is low enough it will have sufficient
                          > internal reflux for a pure distillate.

                          That's what I was hoping.

                          I'm collecting at under 10ml/minute. Haven't worked it out exactly.

                          The main reason I diluted my already collected alcohol down to 10%
                          for these test runs is becasue I'm guessing that's about the strength
                          of wash I'll be using once I distill some real stuff. Basically I
                          wanted the still to run as close to what it will with a real wash.

                          > try blowing through your column to see if it is packed
                          > too tightly.

                          I do that each time I assemble the column and it's always flowed fine.

                          > how are you measuring the percentage of such small amounts?

                          I put the alcometer in a test tube, hold the test tube under the
                          condenser outlet with a magic arm, once I collect enough to get a
                          reading I note it and tip the contents of the test tube into a jar
                          then start refilling the test tube again. Time consuming and tedious
                          but accurate I suspect.
                        • Dene Oehme
                          Thanks again Dirk, ... About 400ml at an average of 50%. I could have gone longer and got more out of it but when it got to producing at about 15%, I stopped
                          Message 12 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                            Thanks again Dirk,

                            > How much distillate did you collect ?

                            About 400ml at an average of 50%. I could have gone longer and got
                            more out of it but when it got to producing at about 15%, I stopped it
                            for the day.

                            > And indeed when you redistill,there is no need to dilute the
                            > distillate: it makes you just run in circles.

                            Yea, I realise that in the real world, if I'm after best product, I
                            wouldn't do that but as I explained to Peter, I'm assuming that when I
                            do a run with a real wash I'll be starting with something at about 10%
                            so I wanted to simulate that situation.

                            > http://homedistiller.org/theory.htm#strong

                            I've been going by that graph for my assumptions regarding strength.
                            That's why I raised the question earlier about why with a head temp of
                            80 degrees am I still only getting 50% alcohol output.

                            Regards

                            Dene
                          • peter_vcb
                            the theory and temps you say all add up to you having good distillate especially running under 10ml/min even with no forced reflux it should be better. does
                            Message 13 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                              the theory and temps you say all add up to you having good distillate
                              especially running under 10ml/min even with no forced reflux it
                              should be better. does the distillate taste nice? what is its smell
                              like?

                              more technical stuff to check.
                              1 is the thermometer accurate? try it in boiling water.
                              2 is the probe reading temperature in the right place in the column?
                              it should be ideally placed right where the take off tube is.
                              3 does the probe need a certain portion to be covered? many glass and
                              digital thermometers need a certain lenght to be exposed to the
                              temperature. many digital probes have their devices 1/3 the way up.
                              this can be checked by putting the tip in boiling water to see if you
                              get 100c
                              4 is there a possible hole in your condenser side letting water
                              trickle into your distillate. this can easily happen and is hard to
                              spot with a worm type condenser like yours. at such low take offs it
                              will add up even if it is just a few drops. try removing the worm
                              from the barrel, turn the still upside down and try to fill it
                              entirely with water to spot any leaks, plug up the outlet.
                              another way to check would be to accurately measure 1 litre of water
                              and distill it until the still is totally dry, then simply measure
                              what came out and see if it is over a litre



                              --- In new_distillers@y..., "Dene Oehme" <waterline@o...> wrote:
                              > Thanks again Dirk,
                              >
                              > > How much distillate did you collect ?
                              >
                              > About 400ml at an average of 50%. I could have gone longer and got
                              > more out of it but when it got to producing at about 15%, I stopped
                              it
                              > for the day.
                              >
                              > > And indeed when you redistill,there is no need to dilute the
                              > > distillate: it makes you just run in circles.
                              >
                              > Yea, I realise that in the real world, if I'm after best product, I
                              > wouldn't do that but as I explained to Peter, I'm assuming that
                              when I
                              > do a run with a real wash I'll be starting with something at about
                              10%
                              > so I wanted to simulate that situation.
                              >
                              > > http://homedistiller.org/theory.htm#strong
                              >
                              > I've been going by that graph for my assumptions regarding
                              strength.
                              > That's why I raised the question earlier about why with a head temp
                              of
                              > 80 degrees am I still only getting 50% alcohol output.
                              >
                              > Regards
                              >
                              > Dene
                            • John Vandermeulen
                              1) Alcoholmeter - you can check higher alcohol ranges by dropping the alcoholmeter into a bottle of wine, and into a bottle of vodka. The latter should give
                              Message 14 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                                1) Alcoholmeter - you can check higher alcohol ranges by dropping the
                                alcoholmeter into a bottle of wine, and into a bottle of vodka. The latter
                                should give you a credible reading for 42%abv.
                                2) Leaky condenser - that suggestion is a good one. Try turning on the
                                condenser water lines, without any heat. Can you isolate the condenser? And
                                watch for water coming from the drain spout. (Which it should not.)
                                John
                              • BOKAKOB
                                It appears that your heat power is too high. try running the still with a spacers between the hot plate and the pot. you may want to use machine nuts. if it
                                Message 15 of 17 , Dec 2, 2002
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                                  It appears that your heat power is too high. try running the still with a spacers between the hot plate and the pot. you may want to use machine nuts. if it works out then you will have to think how to control input power for your heating element. i am so happy i use natural gas.

                                   deno752002 <waterline@...> wrote:

                                  I've given my new still a few more runs.  I am finding it difficult if
                                  not impossible to get the still to run with the column head
                                  temperature below 90 degrees C. 

                                  On the last run it stayed at about 93 degrees pretty well the whole
                                  time untill the run was finished and I wound up with distilate at
                                  55% which matches Tony's graph for vapour alcohol content. 

                                  I want to get the percentage in the distillate up a bit - more
                                  like an easily achievable 80% for which I would need a column head
                                  vapour temp of about the mid 80s.  (Am I basiccally correct
                                  here??) 

                                  At the moment my column is 2" by 2 feet high with scrubbers for 18
                                  inches in it.  Would lengething the height of the column by 380mm (15
                                  inches) and adding another foot or so of scrubbers allow it to run
                                  with a cooler head vapour temp?

                                  If not I might just have to make an internal reflux coil for it after
                                  all. 

                                  Any suggestions most welcome.

                                  There is a photo of the still in it's current form at;

                                  http://www.oldengine.org/members/dene/still.htm

                                  Thanks in advance
                                  Dene
                                  getctat the top of the column



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                                  I can be wrong I must say.
                                  Cheers, Alex...



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