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Converting Tote to Stripping Still

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indyspirits    31

We happened upon a 550 Custom Metalcraft tote and due to my impetuousness I bought it. Problem is we dont really need it.  Is it even realistic / pragmatic to think we could install steam coils in it, insulate, add a condenser and turn it into a stripping still?  Inquiring minds want to know.

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I have toured one distillery that has a tote that they use as a strip still.  It is steam heated.  I am pretty sure they made it, so yes it can/has been done. 

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Stumpy's    7

We ran one and it worked like a champ. It was a metalcraft 550 as well. Ours was jacketed. I would suggest welding a jacket onto the floor and running steam through that and jacketing the sided for cooling water. We even had the 550 connected to a 180 gallon tote that we used as a thumper and but a worm in another 180 gallon tote. It did a great job and we usually ran 90-100 proof low wines with it.

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indyspirits    31
12 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Why not just use steam injection if you are going to use it to strip - no jackets required.

I don't believe you can use boiler treatment chemicals and since you're continuously introducing new, untreated water it would drastically reduce the lifespan of the boiler. Then there's also the need for condensate cooling tank and the fact that you're wasting a lot of energy having to heat water from ground-temp. That being said, the simplicity of it all is fairly  compelling. If I could pick up a second-hand 500,000 BTU boiler that would be a good path forward. 

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HedgeBird    24
3 hours ago, indyspirits said:

I don't believe you can use boiler treatment chemicals and since you're continuously introducing new, untreated water it would drastically reduce the lifespan of the boiler. Then there's also the need for condensate cooling tank and the fact that you're wasting a lot of energy having to heat water from ground-temp. 

How does the condensate tank fit/why is one needed if doing steam injection?  I was thinking if doing steam injection (process steam) that you dont need any return lines or condensate tank/pump?

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indyspirits    31
15 minutes ago, HedgeBird said:

How does the condensate tank fit/why is one needed if doing steam injection?

It's not. I am mistaken. Been reading too much.  In the bad ole days when we had no money we were considering sending the condensate from our steam jacket to waste but needed a flash tank to cool it to 140F before sending to waste.  100% does not apply to steam injection. Sorry.

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The company I represent has a boiler line that is "clean" non ferrous. You inject steam made from city water and the trickle that remains goes down the drain.

what HP boiler would you need?

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indyspirits    31

RO water has about zero alkalinity and no hardenss to buffer pH. It's fairly aggressive in terms of corrosiveness. That being said, if I could found a second-hand 500k boiler and piped it for steam injection, with softened muni water, I could probably get a decade out of it.  I'm being penny wise and pound foolish. 

How would you fabricate the "steam wand"?  Would a 1" copper manifold do it?  

Hmm, thinking out loud here... is there any reason I couldnt pipe the feed water through the product condenser and reclaim a bit of that heat??

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Pretty basic setup.  We have a steam line going to a steam filter, which then goes into the tank from the top.  At the bottom of the pipe, we have an elbow and the 3/4" eductor is screwed on.  In between there is a simple ball valve to turn the steam injection on or off.

It makes a hell of a racket, sounds like the roar of a jet engine.

The assembly is mounted with a union, and we pull it apart to clean when necessary.

We couldn't go straight through the wall, because we're using a jacketed and insulated tank - jacket only used for cooling.  But, in a tote, you could just go right through the side with a weld-in fitting.

The benefit the fancy eductor brings, is that it uses the motive power of the steam to act as an agitator and keep the tank mixing.  During startup, it does a nice job heating up quick, but once you get the corn in and gelling, it's not enough to replace a real tank mixer.

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indyspirits    31
20 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Pretty basic setup.  We have a steam line going to a steam filter, which then goes into the tank from the top.  At the bottom of the pipe, we have an elbow and the 3/4" eductor is screwed on.  In between there is a simple ball valve to turn the steam injection on or off.

Wow. That seems exactly what we need. How big is your boiler? tank?  What are you doing for a condenser? I've seen folks who wrap 2" thin wall copper tubing around a utility cable spool and then lower it into a smaller tote and continuously run water. Might be less expensive to build (buy?) a shotgun condenser.  

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indyspirits    31

I assume you wouldn't use steam injection for a spirits run or you'd forever be chasing your tails.  For every 8,000 BTUs you're adding a gallon of water to the mash. 

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I suspect you are right on the tails chase - it's not going to be ideal for a spirit run.  I would imagine you'd see a huge swing from start to end ABV as a result.

At a minimum, I'd imagine you would want to work with a boiler charge well above what you typically set, and use the condensate from heating to provide whatever dilution to your usual charge abv.  For example, if your strip typically ends up at 50% and you dilute to 30% for your spirit run, you might want to just charge at 50%, knowing that you'll probably get closer to that 30% ballpark during the run.  Perhaps some combination of pre-heat and steam to reduce the overall liquid addition?

There were one or two people on here who were going to try it for a spirit run, but they never posted their results.

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indyspirits    31
1 hour ago, Silk City Distillers said:

There were one or two people on here who were going to try it for a spirit run, but they never posted their results.

I simply cant see that being a good idea.  I've always found the tails cut to be fiddly; a process that I don't see being made more straight-forward by constantly diluting the still charge.  Seems like a great idea for an inexpensive stripping still.  

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Direct steam injection is an age old tried and true method for mash cooking, stripping and spirit run distillation.  

 

    During the later part of the 19th century and the early 20th century, direct steam injection was used by legal bourbon and whiskey distilleries in the southern US.  Though not as popular as it once was, direct steam injection is still used in legal distilleries for mash cooking, stripping, as well as spirit runs today.   We have sold several steam injected mash cookers, stripping stills and spirit stills.  Our steam injected spirit stills have produced spirits that have won national and international awards.   Two of our steam injected stills are pictured below along with the steam injection vessels.  The complete system, including the steam injectors, were designed by me.  The largest steam injected spirit still in operation today was built by Vendome and is used by the Call family of NC.  It is known as the Beast and it has a capacity of 2,100 gallons.  It has a traditional turnip head and a thumper.  For over 130 years distillers who use direct steam injection for spirit runs have claimed that their spirits are far smoother and taste cleaner than spirits ran in other types of stills.  

 

 

 

 

GetFileAttachment?id=AAMkADRmZDYyYmY5LTEwZGEtNDVlYy05NzcwLTExMzVkYmVlYjMyNwBGAAAAAADb8wP2F%2FvRTqMoy74xZIkGBwAfS4lUGTLFQ6iEMyzuj5E1AAAAAAEPAAC14cfVC061Rro0jn2ISUlRAACV9qblAAABEgAQAIPfoERxNj5IjOGrAYAjXKU%3D&X-OWA-CANARY=O_MnEwPG7ESnpVY97IyzyfAH_pINzdQYXJHIEwS24yI_jK3shWekSdqLkUcnDkZsV975gNnujqs.
 

GetFileAttachment?id=AAMkADRmZDYyYmY5LTEwZGEtNDVlYy05NzcwLTExMzVkYmVlYjMyNwBGAAAAAADb8wP2F%2FvRTqMoy74xZIkGBwAfS4lUGTLFQ6iEMyzuj5E1AAAAAAEPAAC14cfVC061Rro0jn2ISUlRAACV9qblAAABEgAQAONk2CgtHoJLlo8c21Agmm4%3D&X-OWA-CANARY=O_MnEwPG7ESnpVY97IyzyfAH_pINzdQYXJHIEwS24yI_jK3shWekSdqLkUcnDkZsV975gNnujqs.
 

Direct steam injection has been used by moonshiners in the southern highlands of the US for well over 130 years and is probably still used today.  

 

 

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/for-calls-the-art-of-making-moonshine-runs-in-the_us_56fe928ae4b038fff497f81e

56fe937d2e00002d0095034c.jpeg?ops=scalefit_720_noupscale
www.huffingtonpost.com
The Calls use a 2,100-gallon still — which Brian designed and Vendome built — employing a unique method of direct-steam injection that prevents the ...

http://www.blueridgeinstitute.org/moonshine/still%20_types_and_techniques.html

stillTypes1.jpg
www.blueridgeinstitute.org
Named for its squatty turnip-shaped boiler (often called the “pot”), the turnip still dates back centuries. In the Blue Ridge it was used into the 1930s, but few ...


http://www.callfamilydistillers.com/our-still/

CFD_LOGO_BLACK.jpg?format=1000w
www.callfamilydistillers.com
"The Bull" - Our custom designed 2100 gallon direct steam injection still. Designed by master distiller, Brian Call - it is the largest direct steam injection still ...

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indyspirits    31
On 7/15/2017 at 10:42 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

I suspect you are right on the tails chase - it's not going to be ideal for a spirit run.

@Southernhighlander -- help me understand this. Let's say you have a still charge of 2000 gallons @ 50% abv. And let's just say for shits & giggles the latent heat evaporation of this mixture is 600 BTU/lb.  Let's further assume we're going to vaporize 1000 gallons and a gallon of the mixture weight 7 lbs. That means we're going to need (600 * 1000 * 7) 4.2M BTUs  to vaporize it. And that doesnt even count the BTUs needed to get it from ambient to boiling.  When that steam condenses, it's going to introduce (4.2M / 970 / 8.34) 520 gallons of water into the still.  For the life of me I can't imagine how you're going make that tails cut let. Of course there's so much additional water maybe you simply dont. Or cant.

 

P.S. Please fix any math errors.

 

 

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You can run 50% abv or 15% abv or evan 8% ABV,  Running at 15psi  you only add around 320 gallons of water to 2100 gallons of mash before you reach operating temp.  Once operating temp is reached the total volume of liquid in the still decreases, because at that point you are vaporizing ethanol faster than you are adding water.   There is no problem doing the tails cut.

 I have a question that will help you understand. Do you do your tails cut any differently when distilling from an 8% mash, then when you are distilling from a 50% mash?  The quantities are different but the cuts are done using the same methods.

Did you see my post about my new line of stills that distill below 100 degrees F?  What do you think of that?

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