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MythBuster last won the day on April 11

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About MythBuster

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  1. I hope you all get the idea?

    Update. I have completed continuous distillation of about 100 litres-worth of 12% ABV feed, taken in 10 to 12 hour sessions of 4.5 litres feed each. Output from my carefully QA'd and easily-repeatable sugar-boosted malt feed is taken off at 92% ABV, at which strength I get my preferred composition of "maltiness" and NO heads or tails whatsoever. (They are removed at high efficiency by the still). Output volume is roughly 500mls each run and this typically yields ~1,100 mls of 40%ABV spirit. And with NO cooling water required, because of the extensive energy recovery techniques employed. After dilution to 40%, an unfamiliar taster might easily suppose that a new liquor has been invented...... A select few, and esteemed, lips have smacked and asked for more already!!! No ageing, no colouring, no other additions at all, it really is so very palatable! Power consumption is 110 Watts for just 15 minutes, to quickly get to steady-state conditions, then reset to 60 Watts for the remaining 10-12 hours run. Shutting down (safely) takes about 20 SECONDS..... Now is a good time for production-volume pot still techies to compare their energy consumption against this! Be very much aware that it EASILY scales upward too. I'm at 1.44 KWH per litre of 90%ABV. Or 0.6 KWH per litre of 40% ABV..... or better! As far as I can determine (quality figures for power usage per litre of product are as rare as hen's teeth) commercial-volume distilleries are in the >4 KWH per litre range at 65% ABV. Unless you guys/gals know better....? Key Learning: It remains a major professional embarrassment that I cannot yet successfully make a continuous fermenter able to produce the measly 3 mls-per-minute needed to feed this baby! So I remain lumbered with 25-litre containers which hugely overshadow everything else in awkwardness, size and weight!
  2. I hope you all get the idea?

    You're on the wrong tack there..... a batch fermentation relies on sterile liquid feed and then rapid production of alcohol, so that - on the basis of probabilities, airborne infection by other beasties is very low. That said, if you contemplate a continuous fermenter, again using sterile feed, which runs at positive internal pressure (from the controlled offtake of CO2 evolved inside it) then no airborne contamination is possible. So it actually represents a very substantial sterility improvement. The problem becomes one of materials handling rather than infections. So really, continuous fermentation is potentially a very good solution to infection risk. It can eliminate airborne infection risk....... and all other infection pathways (poor liquid sterility etc) remain the same. I'd bet that the WHO would frown deeply at any suggestion to use antibiotics to kill said infections after the event, rather than the implementation of rugged measures to prevent them, at cause?
  3. I hope you all get the idea?

    Thanks, all my problems are now solved then.
  4. I hope you all get the idea?

    .... so, a continuous still and a batch-process fermentation regime is always going to be a compromise. A "hybrid". Logic dictates that if continuous distillation brings with it many substantial benefits, its feedstock should ideally also be produced continuously too. And that, for me, for now, remains an ongoing brain-teaser! I have ideas which run from immobilised yeast cells (alginate gel for example) to cascaded, mini-settling tanks all interconnected; but so far I can forsee substantial operational problems with all of them (including as you say, the risk of ingress (sooner or later) of yeast-competing organisms and associated pathogens. The research might even become dangerous in that respect, so great thought and care is needed beforehand. My current "angle" is that if the feed into the continuous fermenter is sterile, and the only gas inside it is evolved CO2 at positive pressure (from the process) then such microbial issues can be avoided completely. But for safety's sake, it's best to stress-test that presumption. Aggressively! But hey-ho! The great fun to be had from all of this is finding ways to overcome such difficulties........ I remain confident that in the long term, a practical, tiny, continuous fermentation device will emerge. Meanwhile, I have to produce 25-litre containers of feedstock at timely intervals too.
  5. I hope you all get the idea?

    Congrats on your own success with tiny continuous stilling Glen...... As you've no doubt discovered by now, "eye-candyness" is an expensive bit of exhibitionism in the continuous, nanostill world. If it's part of the system and not an input or output connection and you can see it, it begs the question "why doesn't that need to be thoroughly insulated to conserve energy, too?" - I reckon that at the nano scale, continuous done right is > 2x the efficiency of batch-stilling. My still looks like a (small) lump of insulation material, with just a few wires and pipes in and out of it. Did you incorporate take-offs for both tails and heads as well as hearts in your design? My early prototypes didn't, but I soon learned their value in terms of directly-produced, continuous, super-clean Hearts. Really surprising how removal of such tiny amounts of heads and tails improves the output hearts. For those insistent on having traces of them to their own output recipe, they can always be put back in, to whatever desirable degree, afterwards. But now I've tasted such pure hearts, I can't imagine why I'd want to do that!!! My own penchant is Single Malt, and with such fine Hearts, it does almost seem sacrilege to take the necessary steps to corrupt the process to include the required "smokiness"..... My own boiler is about 300 mls BTW, so you're pretty much in the same volume/power arena as me. Best wishes and enjoy the output!
  6. I hope you all get the idea?

    The continuous still works just fine. Maximum insulation and better-than-basic heat exchanging is lower down the list of priorities for now, so it does need 60 Watts (rather than the designed 50Watts) of juice to deliver ~ litre per day of 90%ABV from a ~10% ABV feedstock. Heads (~0.05% of the Hearts by volume, tuneable) and Tails (~0.2% of Hearts by volume, tuneable) are collected also. The discarded still effluent contains <<0.2% ABV. Re-reading the above comments, there is a misunderstanding on the terminology "wine". Here in Europe, lots of people refer to the feedstock of a still as "wine". Some call it "beer". My supply is similar, and self-fermented at raw materials costs rather than retail grape-based wine, just as the domestic pot-stillers do it. As a post-graduate chemist with longstanding Process Development experience, I think of it as feedstock, anyway! My recipe is nothing unusual and similar to common recipes as made by pot still advocates. I call it "sugar boosted malt extract". Preliminary study is underway, in parallel to all this, towards a continuous fermentation "feeder". Very much non-trivial but if achieved, a huge game-changer in commercial terms. (Yes I do know that, especially Down Under, continuous fermentation of ale at commercial volumes is well-established.) The Arduino processor enables highly cost-effective control of all the design goal features and the still is already at the stage where if anything goes wrong (even the unexpected or mysterious), the entire set-up shuts down safely, quickly (within 25 seconds) and cleanly. Not totally perfect yet (one shutdown was caused by a feedstock source reservoir pipe disconnecting and dropping the 10 litre contents of the feed reservoir onto my garage floor. So it's been replaced by 3/16" copper brake pipe and unions)...... Nowhere near a fire or explosion risk though. Just a mess. The lower flammability limit of ethanol in air is 3% (~ 38g per cubic metre of air). My garage volume is about 40 cubic metres....Provided I keep a safe volume of 1 cubic metre of free space around all points where ethanol could possibly be leaked, there needs to be at least, say 20 grammes of ethanol go missing from the system's flow monitoring processes. ..... Maybe 6 minutes production...... and, by the way, even 1 gram of alcohol going missing would leave a HUGE anomaly "fingerprint" on the normal data readings and shut the system down l-o-n-g before that! The system can detect if 2 drops (0.1 mls) of output (or feedstock, for that matter, since the last Great Flood) goes astray in any 20-second period with ease. And is set to shut down if such a condition, or greater exists for more than 20 seconds. Such unusual situations get tucked away into non-volatile RAM prior to the system shutdown which includes "pulling the plug" on all power - including that to the Processor. So post shutdown detective work is readily supported. [You might, by the way, have also deduced that I'm far from a novice in matters "computer control" too? Please don't make rash assumptions in that direction either.] I've used AI techniques for the control algorithms. No neural nets yet, but they are on the list, mostly in the output composition "tuning" department. I've manually set safety trigger points, for basic safety reasons, but have already recorded masses of data correlating relationships between all data sets - temperatures, power, flow rates, all vs Time. All in all so far, a super experience for me. I have little doubt (from existing telemetry records) that the power requirement can easily be brought down to the original 50Watts spec., or possibly a tad lower than that. Wish me luck on the ongoing evolution; sorry you weren't interested, you have missed out on a very exciting ride. I'll update at suitable future milestones. Good luck with the Big Stills. For me, small is beautiful. Nano is even better! 'Bye for now.
  7. Slow Distillation and Maturation

    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
  8. Fun with Spiral Prismatic Packing!

    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.
  9. Fun with Spiral Prismatic Packing!

    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!
  10. Fun with Spiral Prismatic Packing!

    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.)
  11. Fun with Spiral Prismatic Packing!

    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.
  12. Fun with Spiral Prismatic Packing!

    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......
  13. I hope you all get the idea?

    Sorry for wasting your time. You clearly know a lot more than me.........
  14. Fun with Spiral Prismatic Packing!

    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.
  15. I hope you all get the idea?

    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.