MythBuster

I hope you all get the idea?

39 posts in this topic

On 05/09/2016 at 8:59 PM, daveflintstone said:

Anyone who has serious interest in this is delusional.  For my reason stated above.  And as was said above, how many will spend $500 plus feed stock to get a gallon of liquor a week?  

fyi making a tiny continuous still is not new and revolutionary.  They exist, I've seen one, so what.  A tiny continuous still interests a tiny number of people.  There is nothing to get.

Sorry for wasting your time. You clearly know a lot more than me.........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 So it's been replaced by 3/16" copper brake pipe and unions)......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.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My partner and I have built an extremely successful tiny (1 L boiler) continuous still. Not quite as sophisticated computer wise as Mythbuster's, however, it works like a hot damn. Incredibly efficient. With our small test unit, we are easily able to output a virtually unlimited stream of excellent quality stripped product. The engineering challenge has become creating an effective 'just in time' system for keeping a fresh flow of the mash/wash for the still. I can see fantastic potential for this system, although I will admit when it was first proposed I was highly skeptical. Also, not much in the way of eye candy for the tours! Kinda boring to see $40 worth of glassware and a hotplate laying waste to an expensive still!

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 17/06/2017 at 4:06 PM, Glenlyon said:

My partner and I have built an extremely successful tiny (1 L boiler) continuous still. Not quite as sophisticated computer wise as Mythbuster's, however, it works like a hot damn. Incredibly efficient. With our small test unit, we are easily able to output a virtually unlimited stream of excellent quality stripped product. The engineering challenge has become creating an effective 'just in time' system for keeping a fresh flow of the mash/wash for the still. I can see fantastic potential for this system, although I will admit when it was first proposed I was highly skeptical. Also, not much in the way of eye candy for the tours! Kinda boring to see $40 worth of glassware and a hotplate laying waste to an expensive still!

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!

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hiya Mythbuster,

Thanks for your note.

1 hour ago, MythBuster said:

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!!!

We haven't yet figured out how to separate the elements within the C. Still environment yet. Right now we're using it as a stripping still and then doing a spirit run using a more traditional system. We have not automated it in any way. We're a bit geezerly for that newfangled computer stuff. But, we'd love to learn! PM me if you want to exchange emails for a more robust conversation.

That being said, the product that emerges from the C. Still tastes great (assuming the mash was properly done of course.) It was the taste factor which finally sold me on the idea - as well as the consistency of output.

1 hour ago, MythBuster said:

My still looks like a (small) lump of insulation material, with just a few wires and pipes in and out of it.

Our C. Still is built out of off the shelf lab ware and so insulation has not been a consideration. Our unit was built more as a 'proof of concept'. But, it runs so well - there is a lively debate about whether or not we should deploy it into an actual working environment.

If we decide to do that - we'll head back to the drawing board and build something that will be robust enough for the long haul.

One of the interesting problems is the C.Still puts out so efficiently - if we were to run it full time, we'd exceed our yearly production limit in about six months.

1 hour ago, MythBuster said:

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".....

We would love to do whisky, (and will probably do a little for our egos) but as a small farm distillery we need to focus on a speedier product :). Probably Gin and Liqueurs, followed up with a little brandy and schnapps. Purely from a drinking point of view though...

I think having a distillery with a variety of stills is a great way to go. We've collected all kinds of different designs and ideas and they all produce something different. That's why I like this business so much - it much more creative than wine or beer and yet still incorporates all the same traditions. Very cool.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

What do you mean by just in time mash injection?

One of the things with the continuous still, it runs basically as long as there is a wash to feed it with. But, size dictates throughput, so if you are potentially using a grain base mash, you want to make sure you only make enough volume the still can handle before potential bacteria takes over and spoils the wash before it has time to get to the still. Yet, at the same time, you need fresh material to keep the still running. So, the timing and volume of the mash creation becomes very important - resulting in a 'just in time' process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Glenlyon said:

One of the things with the continuous still, it runs basically as long as there is a wash to feed it with. But, size dictates throughput, so if you are potentially using a grain base mash, you want to make sure you only make enough volume the still can handle before potential bacteria takes over and spoils the wash before it has time to get to the still. Yet, at the same time, you need fresh material to keep the still running. So, the timing and volume of the mash creation becomes very important - resulting in a 'just in time' process.

.... 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.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Without taking any position on the contraptions viability in the market place, I will comment on the "brain teaser " you seem to be having with continuous flow to the mini still thing. 

Just hook it to a keg of beer. If it's a really really tiny still, just feed it a can :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Roger said:

Without taking any position on the contraptions viability in the market place, I will comment on the "brain teaser " you seem to be having with continuous flow to the mini still thing. 

Just hook it to a keg of beer. If it's a really really tiny still, just feed it a can :) 

Thanks, all my problems are now solved then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was under the impression that continuous fermentation was more prone to bacterial issues than batch fermentation.  So really, continuous fermentation is not a solution to infection at all, it represents an even bigger problem - the answer to which is usually dosing antibiotics, which may pose ideological issues.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes - that is why its important to think about that, especially, if you want to scale up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I applaud innovation and all this is potentially workable. At the same time, as I read through the posts, I am struck by the complexities and costs for a gallon of vodka a week, which probably will not be much better than a mid range shelf vodka (as already stated). If it's single malt then the complexity level increases quite a bit. It can take years to master a good grain recipe. So who is the market aimed at? Amateur home hobby distillers who do not care about time or costs seem to me to be only market; (and it well may be a valuable market). 

But I suspect that part of the home distillation hobby is not just for the liquor but for the "craft" value. Taking too much "craft" away diminishes the challenge and resulting satisfaction.Times are a changin', though; and this old bearded farmer knows better then to say never to any innovation. A younger, more tech hungry (and fast food trained) customer may be the niche. I don't know.

I do know that your dialogue could be brought down to earth a little so we "simple" folk can better envision the product. Remember, some of your costumers are going to be looking their wives in the eye and listening to "YOU PAID HOW MUCH FOR IT??? To make WHAT??? You're going to put it WHERE??? WHY??? Science speak won't mean much then.

Anyway, good luck.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

I was under the impression that continuous fermentation was more prone to bacterial issues than batch fermentation.  So really, continuous fermentation is not a solution to infection at all, it represents an even bigger problem - the answer to which is usually dosing antibiotics, which may pose ideological issues.

 

 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?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now