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MythBuster last won the day on April 11 2017

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  1. You will most certainly, then, understand that the "hocus pocus" pseudoscience claptrap often posted on forums is nuisance misdirection! (Particularly when you read about "column packing" assurances from the witch doctors.....). The flux [alcohol/water/other things] of molecular transference (both ways) is PRECISELY quantified in Langmuir's formula - the most important aspect for still designers / experimentors being simply the SIZE of the surface area of the boundary layer between gas and liquid at all points within the still, and the "passage time" of liquid and gas through that exposed area. I fully expect that if you yourself "dabble" in still experimental design, you will certainly also accommodate such knowledge to huge benefit, and I wish you success and FUN in wherever your own path takes you! Bon voyage!!!!
  2. Whilst I appreciate that this Forum appears (mostly but not completely) "set in its ways" to age-old traditional distillation, that's just fine with me. Just be aware that the world you live in is MUCH wider than the horizons you see! For the information of those (if any) who feel that novelty is the Mother or Progress:- I have been successfully running my Microstill for a couple of years now - delivering top-class (FLAVOURED and pure spirit) Product. Heads and tails are removed continuously too. I like Malt whisky and gin, so that is what I make. My personal alcohol consumption is consistently much LESS than one liter a week. I make spirits for my own personal use ONLY. My Microstill throughput matches the design model - approx 1 liter of feed stock per hour (sugar boosted LME fermented and delivered at ~10-12% ABV) Steady-state running is achieved in approx. 13 minutes. Power consumption is held (under CPU supervision) at 110 Watts to approach thermal steady state conditions, then automatically (ESP8266 and isolated TRIAC) settled to steady state power, of 68 watts per 0.25 mls per second feed rate. If I need higher throughputs, the still also works just as well at 50% higher feed (and 50% higher power) limited exclusively by the 110W maximum power rating of my heating system. Because energy is recovered from the (water) effluent into the feedstock line, NO cooling water is used at all, whatever the steady-state power used. At steady-state running, there is NO alcohol detectable in the water effluent.......... though ( IF I had a GLC) I'm sure there'd be a tiny trace of it! Next generation (my Nanostill) is at an advanced stage of build.:- Feedrate - 10 microliters per second (about 30 mls per hour, 5 liters per week) Product delivery approx 500mls (azeo equivalent mass) per week. NO cooling water, at all. Power consumption 7 Watts (!) The design is intrinsically safe, with auto shutdown in every fail state (including fire, failed CPU safety watchdog and Power outage) Objective: a still the size of (or smaller) a SHOEBOX. Not more than 9 inches tall. The sort of still that permits even a one-bedroom, high-rise apartment resident the opportunity to make a liter of fine quality spirits per week (it can be "over-run" to produce 2 liters a week if desired). The product ABV is tuneable from flavoured (e.g. malt whisky) right through to azeotrope (for vodka/gin etc). Full credit for design/experimentation inspiration is accorded to Irving Langmuir (Nobel Laureate) and his gas/liquid phase flux equation. Continuous FERMENTATION, as expected, is MUCH more difficult to organise, but good progress has been made towards this goal also. In particular, contamination of the yeast by airborne material has been totally ELIMINATED (and proven so). However, even for the provision of the miniscule feedrates which the Nanostill needs, a continuous fermenter is 2 or 3 times the size of the Nanostill! Mostly because I don't want to include energy-wasteful, power-assisted filtration. So, if you're genuinely interested, I hope that the above provides some encouragement, or at least some satisfaction that novelty need NOT be "hogwash"! Best wishes for your own chosen pathways for explorations, whatever direction they lie in. And to those who think they already know all there is to know: I'm completely uninterested in your Luddite habits! So save your breath. Bye for now, I'll look in again, infrequently. MythBuster
  3. The world is never short of those who have convinced themselves that they know all there is to know. BECAUSE THEY SAY SO. Progress is achieved by those who never accept that their own knowledge as complete, and stagnation attends those who bask in ignorance. There is little that science, creativity and a sound development program can't achieve. And that includes the contents of a bottle full of a complex (but determinable!) mixture of chemicals. For that is all any bottle of spirits is. There is NOTHING in there which won't succumb to detailed qualitative and quantitative analysis. Most such science remains unpublished, but not all: a (lightweight) example of the strong progress already made is attached. Edit: and a pictorial example of some of the simpler component esters in there in the other pdf. I have a large collection, carefully digested, tracked and logged; whilst most - but not all - are content to add chapters to their Spell Book instead. One wonders if they write in Latin? Technology has overtaken such Hocus Pocus, and even without burning them at the stake the witch population is now in terminal decline. They are just beginning to notice that the numbers attending their Coven Meetings are shrinking rapidly over Time. That they complain about their misfortune is understandable............. their trademark is their willingness to curse anything and everything that isn't in their Spell Book! Perhaps they will lie low for another year, now that Hallowe'en has passed? Soon, all they'll have left is a game of Quidditch......... For Heavens' Sakes..... DON'T TAKE a wider view so contemptuously! Sure, the days of liquor witchcraft are numbered, but it isn't a certainty that a hot stake awaits you all. Renunciation and switching paths is allowed!!! 979470_1699ee856e604b908289386554c99fa8.pdf table-of-esters-and-their-smells-v2.pdf
  4. To assume is to make an ASS of U and ME. "Because I say so" theme betrays your knowledge level. Go away.
  5. This is of huge technical interest to me, Southernhighlander. Note that I'm NOT a competitor (at all!) to your existing or future industry-scale still equipment. I immediately detect and applaud your focus on Quality and repeatability...... Although it may not be obvious to some, I expect that the high heat transfer rates available from steam heating (versus element heating) is down to Latent Heat of Vapourisation of steam condensing to water - the chief reason why a steam burn can be so severe.... if its impact point is not yet at 100C, steam will literally SHOVE heat (via condensation) into that point! [Because my device operates at steady-state, I have no heat transfer issues at all but readily appreciate the problem of getting it INTO a pot's contents!.] That said, the inner workings of such continuous distillation - in this area of heat transfer especially - may trigger some productive/provocative thoughts for a pot still designer? A once-over with a calculator shows me that you take about 0.12 KWH per litre to get the charge up to boiling. Have you any data indicating how much more power (KWH) it typically takes to complete the distillation for a given charge volume and %ABV to a given output volume and %ABV? If you see my own post (sub-micro scale, continuous distillation) I've found that moderate energy recovery methods yield a start-to-finish power requirement (for 90% ABV on 12% ABV charge) of about 1.4KWH per litre of product at 90% ABV. Please note that if power is measured relative to volume of charge feed instead, I'm at about 0.17KWH per litre. (I am aware that commercial distilleries, especially traditional ones, rarely use such concentrated feedstock.) I hope that a glance-over of my own power data will be of interest to a large-scale batch still designer such as yourself, and any feedback of technical interest will likely be mutually beneficial. In return, if you have any questions on my own results, please ask or PM me. Commercial discretion assured, both directions.
  6. As Arthur J Watson discovered in double quick time, such opinions, stated as fact, can return to haunt.... but all the best to you too!
  7. 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!
  8. 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?
  9. Thanks, all my problems are now solved then.
  10. .... 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. 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.
  15. 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!
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