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Re: Still improvement question

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  • 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 1 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 2 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 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 12 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 13 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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