MythBuster

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MythBuster last won the day on September 5 2016

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  1. Ah! "but not the chemistry behind how they interact once mixed.".... Along similar lines to "What is the meaning of Life, The Universe, and Everything?" As the Japanese distillers have pursued (to their definite and large advantage), modern chemistry allows PRECISE discovery of "what is in it?" for any liquid. Down to parts-per-billion precision and with total knowledge of component identification. There are NO components in - for example - a Great malt whisky which cannot be acquired in pure form so that a duplicate "recipe" of ingredients can be made. The Great Mystery is how these form over time in the environment inside an ageing barrel. And even that is no longer much of a mystery to the Chemistry Detectives. Techniques have been available for DECADES to relatively mundane laboratories not only to identify and quantify ALL such components, and to also to TRACK whence they came. Time-spanned repeat studies even show up "intermediates" along the way. So, the scientifically inclined follow their path, sometimes with a quiet chuckle for the Traditionalists who insist that a good malt only develops if the right number of old bones are thrown into the air, at the right height and with the correct incantation....... And the Traditionalists laugh in (near) total disbelief at the complete analysis of the Big Picture suggested by their opponents. The big question is who, over time, makes the best product in terms of Customer acceptance AND preparedness to pay. And PROFIT of course! Which US Distilleries get $100 per 70cl bottle of single malt made on a COFFEY STILL (and know that even some in Scotland have done for many decades....https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Nevis_distillery )? How many posters herein are actively and currently discussing and debating such progressive options to Process Improvement, compared to those promoting "same old" methodologies? Sure ALL distilleries have seen gradual incorporation of newer ideas and technologies over the centuries. What many seem to fail to grasp is the rate of ACCELERATION of such adoptions, and the rapid demise of those failing to see the "train" heading their way in their tunnel! Cast your minds back to how impregnable DEC seemed with their super-mini computers in 1985. Or Compaq did with their PC's in 1995. Both GONE. Extinct as the dinosaurs. And all they did was to fall behind "the Curve" SET BY THEIR CUSTOMERS' NEEDS. They both thought they owned their market. Both were seriously mistaken! Just my $0.02
  2. All of my discussion revolves around continuous distillation. The Product output point(s) are user-defined. The "Q" (quality factor) of separation at EACH output point is tuneable. Such points can be added/removed.
  3. I have found that especially, and necessarily, in a continuous still, once the fabrication metal (or any other material) of a fractionator packing, or plate for that matter in a plate fractionator, is at the temperature governed by the equilibrium temperature of the gas and liquid phases surrounding it, you can consider the thermal (and Mass) characteristics of the packing material irrelevant to the thermodynamics of the still operation, in comparison to the heat transfer associated with the molecular exchange solely in the surface area between gas and liquid phases. Once at the desired equilibrium temperature, that packing (or plate) does almost nothing thermodynamically except in its contribution to conducted Heat Losses! Proviso: If the design relies upon such conductive heat losses to modify the fractionator efficiency/effectiveness, then the REVERSE applies! But in my book, that is poor thermal design and energy wasted. It is correct to assume that SPP's are fabricated from wire which is strong enough to support the likely weight of other SPP's above them, without undue mechanical distortion. And I repeat... there is more to selection of a packing medium than mere "HETP", which takes absolutely NO account of throughput capability. Whilst there is general acceptance that SPP does provide very good working solutions, that does not mean that SPP is providing the most cost-effective solution in all or even just those cases. If a material of 90% SPP's general effectiveness but at 50% of the cost were used instead, would it be considered inferior.....? Perhaps fractionator packing choice becomes more meaningful, in practice, if one considers the methodology of "tuning" a given length of packed column (usually via precision reflux control) so that the degree of separation can be finely selected for hearts, slightly pre-hearts or slightly post-hearts without having to mechanically alter the column's geometry or physical take-off point(s). In the case of flavoured spirit output(s), the absolute effectiveness of separation vs column height (HETP) is rather inconsequential compared to the needs of throughput and a wide range of separation tuneablity. In my own NanoStill case, I selected a column packing which is - compared to SPP's - much more tolerant of wide-ranging reflux ratios which gives me a wide range of component separation tuneability. Great discussion!
  4. I do get all of your 2 cents (I have seen your other post before completing this, on "devil's advocate"; see your point; and have no problem with that at all!) and it seems to me that hard science can be accepted in two primary ways:- 1. Those who understand it and then bear it in mind as they do their own thing, formulating their own conclusions about the effects of the Scientifically nailed-down physical phenomena. They do tend to call this process "craft" or similar. And I make no mistake: the World needs Craftsmen (and Craftswomen!) 2. Those who understand it and then keep it in sharp focus as they explore ways to apply the characterised phenomena knowledge to progressive and fully-characterised improvements. Generally called Science. It tends to be slower and methodical, but it is only Science which precisely, repeatedly and mathematically characterises the phenomena of daily life. NB: neither is wrong, nor good/bad. I'm aware of both approaches and mostly follow (2), but do sometimes "think outside of the box" and play around in the (1) domain. That said, having seen for myself that careful application of the available scientific knowledge can indeed produce a continuous still which comfortably and repeatedly (to accepted and measurable scientific standards) actually works. I fully realise that conventional distillers NOT so scientifically-inclined place huge doubt on that, even though such systems are commercially available (by using the available Science) as exemplified by Member jheising at website, http://bunkerstills.com/ Why does (2) especially attract my sort of person? I am something of a polymath and like to model most designs I get involved with (distilling is just one such avenue.) I can state categorically that my prototype nanostill, within reasonable experimental limits, follows PRECISELY the parameters of its mathematical model. I also know (for sure!) that unless the prototype is run in line with the parameter limits encompassed by the model, it breaks down and delivers junk. That said, once steady-state is achieved (mine takes 10 to 12 minutes from cold) output remains rock-solid until shut-down. Which can be 7 days ahead, or more! I'm satisfied that my design MUST therefore by very much aligned to jheising's design m.o., albeit operating at dramatically lower throughput and power requirement. I have no doubt at all (having already modelled it and prototyped it) that if I swapped my own-design fractionator packing for "scrubbies" and stretched its length 2 or 3x then it would work JUST as well and deliver JUST as reliable steady-state output. I do not intend to disclose my packing design at this time, but hope you can see that its precise nature is relatively unimportant to the current argument? So a successful continuous design is NOT a function of a low HETP column packing. That said, I also have no doubt at all that I cannot keep my continuous still perfectly balanced (steady state) UNLESS I take full account of the second-to-second profile of the fractionator's temperature gradient, power input, reflux ratio and wash feed rate. Having seen Langmuir's formula, that is completely understandable, so I have designed "to" it. FYI, I have an outlandishly novel prototype which has no column at all, or trays, relying instead on another means to produce a large area gas/liquid interface. It too is in alignment with its Langmuirian model and it has no packing at all! It is more difficult to "scale down" to NanoStill size, so is on the Back Burner for the time being....... Conclusion: The successful design of a "flavored-output continuous still" of ANY size MUST, IMHO, have a control system which keeps all pertinent parameters continuosly aligned according to the Known Science. The design of a continuous "stripper" is an entirely different animal, and relatively trivial. Do all please maintain the flow, this is an interesting discussion/debate. I do hope jheising is still about and can join in? (I'm about to go offline until tomorrow.)
  5. So good to see someone doing this properly. It doesn't matter that prototypes are hand-crafted, as long as they are able to collect useful data. My own are made that way too (I am a well-equipped model engineer, with solid background in computing hardware and software too). I tend to use Arduinos as cost-effective prototyping compute engines. Can't quite see if yours is Arduino too? I can get a 16MHz Arduino for about 5 Euros (£3 UK) from China, post paid! Around 1980, I wrote the software to fully control a 500,000 litres per week (Heinecken) lager fermentation room. It ran on a 2MHz 16-bit computer with 32K(!) of ROM/32K(!) of RAM.... In case you haven't discovered the "trick" yet.... when prototyping and you need many buttons/switches, it is a nuisance putting a lot of wiring together to get them linked to your control computer. I use an IR keypad, serially linked to an Arduino, Grab a Public Domain script to get it working, and than have all the prototyping buttons I need in a nice, easy-to-use keypad. With no trailing wires because of the IR link.... it works very well indeed. Probably not recommended for Production use, but for prototyping a HUGE time-saver! I've also found an Arduino especially useful for hooking together MULTIPLE DS18B20 devices. Really low-cost and really effective telemetry. I typically hook the Arduino up to a laptop and collect huge amounts of VERY useful temperature-profile data on my fractionators. All with respect to time!....... Good to have discussed with you. Warm regards.
  6. Thanks Genio, that was indeed helpful. There is a lot of useful knowledge and experience in Poland and Russia which is not always easy to tap into! Equation 7 of the following paper explains Langmuir's derivation of an equation quantifying all of the relevant parameters for successful fractionation. It's heavy going unless your maths ability is up to it (I have a SmartMaths pal who broke it down into small bits for me initially!) http://bado-shanai.net/Map of Physics/mopLangmuirEvaporation.htm It's an equation that "grows" on you and FWIW, the thing that I had most trouble getting my head around was "the flux of vapor molecules in kilograms per square meter per second onto the interface" which is just another way of saying that "whatever you do, you will change the rate of exchange between the liquid and gas phases and that the mass of the total exchange, per second, will be directly proportional to the gas/liquid interface area. That exchange can be from liquid to gas (positive = evaporation) or from gas to liquid (negative = condensation). Intimate realisation of the meaning (at least) of this equation is probably fundamental to being able to design improvements in any fractionation process. Edit: I almost forgot... What isn't so obvious is that if either liquid or gas phase is moving with respect to the other, via Bernouilli's equations, there will be a pressure change and the rate of molecular exchange will change (Vapour Pressure in both phases will change, therefore the flux.) Which is why your wet face feels cooler the faster you cycle along (increased evaporation and thus energy loss from liquid to the gas phase) until the water has gone, and then your face gets warm again.....non-constant gas or liquid material flow in a continuous still will lead to a similar potentially wide ranging variation of the fractionation expected (steady state destroyed). In a pot still, the effect is just as unmanageable, but much harder to pin down. Which can lead to all sorts of misunderstanding of basic fractionation principles......
  7. Sorry for wasting your time. You clearly know a lot more than me.........
  8. A practical way to be able to use your preferred copper would be to work-harden it as part of the SPP manufacturing process. This can be achieved by the insertion of rolls (which need not be an elaborate set up!) All you need is to bend and re-bend the wire over a roller or two on it's way to the final, SPP former and it will be substantially more springy and tough to deform. Some trial and error experimentation is necessary to get the optimum condition in the Product, but if you knock up a "jury rig" to test the process you will see it can be made to work very well. We ended up using nothing more complicated than a couple of polished steel guides to force the moving wire around ina zig-zag form and thus bend and re-bend it. We found that lubrication was unnecessary - the guides lasted a long time and were cheaper to replace than to complicate! (I am not an SPP-producer, BTW! I handled copper wire in a similar way with similar needs but in a totally different application). Hope that helped.
  9. I was careful not to tar all of their members with the same brush. I have huge respect for a small number of their members, and a couple of them are trusted, private confidants who ALSO view those websites similarly! That you have doubts regarding the need for such a tiny still, if you cannot envision the (possible) available market, is understandable and not a derogatory deduction either. New markets are rarely widely envisioned, or they would be addressed already by the professionals closest to their components! My observation is that those with the experience and scientific knowledge of existing state-of-the-art are most likely to be able to capitalise on any such emergent opportunities, faster. And then ONLY if they "get it". For in consumer markets, better, faster, cheaper generally (not always) works best. And because a "legal from" date will occur in this case for USA consumers, time-to-market will be a primary differentiator. This potential emergent market, IMHO, is most definitely NOT best served by noisy, amateurish and wild-worded "because I say so" ultimata seen on every page at those amateur sites. Nor am I keen on the idea of discussing IP details in an environment so visibly rife with plagiarism! Whilst it may not be fitting, ultimately, here either, I just thought I'd give it a try and at least discover if anyone (anyone?) had serious interest in it - or even"gets the idea"? Which, to be fair, is what I did ask as the banner of my introduction post.
  10. Thanks 3d0g, I have been at both places for several years, but they seem to be very much amateurs looking after amateurs, spending most time arguing semantics and personalities. Read the volumes of discussion on something as simple as SPP's as an example. Their "secret" forum-with-a-forum is even more obtuse and clique-ey. I do communicate (separately and privately) with a few of the rather tiny minority of their members who are "switched on" to how a still (of any type) really works.. Maybe it will be better if I select one small part of my own design and pursue discussion of that (for starters) in the Equipment section here......
  11. I have no idea on what basis you assume that I don't understand the specific engineering meaning of "Intrinsically Safe". You have zero knowledge of my qualifications, knowledge or experience in regulatory compliance. You need to be more careful in shooting first and asking questions later perhaps.......
  12. I have done a fair amount of experimentation on fractionator packing and made my own informal deduction that the key elements are the total available wetted surface area open to passing gas, per unit of column volume and the rate of mass transfer through it (gas and liquid). Fractionation of course takes place only at the interface between the moving liquid and the moving gas and its rate is proportional to the surface area of that interface and the velocity difference between the phases, at constant mass transfer, pressure and temperature for any and all points within the column. It is the mass transfer element which is easily overlooked when considering factors such as HETP ratings - which do not relate (at all) to throughput mass. Turn "the wick" down enough and you can make almost ANY column packing material look good, in terms of HETP alone. When it comes to "SPP" and the like, the key elements seem to be the diameter of the central hole vs the wetted surface area of the SPP. Calculating the surface area of the wire it is made from is largely irrelevant, because surface tension buries the wire (and the gaps between the spirals) well below the all-important exposed surface.. If you make your SPP too long, for example, there is a lower probability that the open ends of the tube will be close to a neighbouring tube's orifices, thus restricting gas mobility in the system. The system will ultimately "choke" on liquid phase rather than fractionate, for want of gas porosity. Conversely, if your SPP is "all hole and little wetted surface area" (i.e. too short), there will be little molecular migration between the phases and fractionation suffer just as badly! It's well-understood that a working fractionator has a thermal differential (proportional to and generated by the varying gas and liquid composition) over its length. Careful monitoring of that thermal gradient with respect to throughput mass is essential to efficient fractionation management. Which is, as JHeising will tell you, CRUCIAL in the design of continuous fractionating stills (not mere continuous "stripping" stills".) So, in answer to your question, there are far too many variables involved to be able to provide precise advice based purely on the diameter of your column and the size of your SPP's. A test rig or in-still trail with comprehensive fractionator-length temperature monitoring at your target mass throughput rate is in order? (Edit: must have been preoccupied with web-browsing at the time of posting - I'd typed HTTP instead of HETP, now corrected. Apologies!)
  13. Are you still here sir? I'm new to the site, about 3 years further down the continuous road from this and joined a couple of days ago. You will see that I already understand and agree with your assurances and statements. My own interest is in much smaller throughput equipment, but of broadly similar capabilities. I do hope things have gone well for you since this thread dried up?
  14. Thanks Jedd, I had seen that particular thread. Do be aware that I'm new here and was unable to contribute to such threads until I joined. I will be talking to jheising who seems very much a person after my own heart, even though focussed on a somewhat larger apparatus than mine. As already stated, my design aims at commoditisation/consumerisation of a nano-scale continuous still. One which runs on about 50 watts and produces about a gallon of whisky-strength spirit a week. An order of magnitude smaller than The Bunker Stills Product. One which will retail for less than $500..... I like their statement that steady-state "tuning" to a desired output taste and purity is entirely achievable - though by no means a trivial thing. There are also valuable hints (to the uninformed) that different outputs can be "remixed" with the primary output to produce whatever mix of taste/congeners etc etc are desired. All that is actually removed from the feedstock wash are non-volatiles and water. Those with a modicum of maths, physics and thermodynamics can easily confirm to themselves that such a design can indeed (as does mine too) run happily with no external cooling requirement. Despite the substantial miniaturisation, I do envisage that storage of the necessary requirement of wash will become a headache for the target purchasers, and the ideal solution will be a parallel system of continuous fermentation also! That problem is non-trivial too. But equally, I feel, not insurmountable......
  15. Yes indeed, thanks Tom. Apologies HedgeBird (I thought it was common knowledge in distilling circles......) No photos or detailed specs. will be given at this time. A normal precaution in the case of a new market and un-launched products designed to exploit it. (There's a lot of IP in the design). I'm providing preliminary insight into the likely emergent market, and general discussion with those interested of this general method of addressing it. I fully expect and accept that some will doubt either/both the likely market or the viability of such a Product to satisfy it, and have no problem with that. I'm hoping that others here will easily envision what I'm talking about. To promote better appreciation of the design's goals, traditional pot still experts might ask themselves this: Could I produce a tiny pot still which could be used daily, loaded with less than a gallon of 10-12% ABV wine, and run slowly over 12 hours to deliver about 1/2 a pint of heads-and-tails-free azeo (or a larger equivalent volume of lower ABV product) each day? ( Of course I can!) Next, can I at least conceive that I or someone else could design a tiny continuous still to do the same job? It's really that simple. I'm not looking for pointless argument with those who cannot accommodate such possibilities. Maybe I guessed wrongly and there is no such interest here? If not, I will quietly and politely disappear to seek discussion elsewhere.