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Posts posted by MythBuster

  1. 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    Most such science remains unpublished, but not all: a (lightweight) example of the strong progress already made is attached.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!!!



  2. On 9/26/2017 at 11:47 PM, Strawman said:

    A market without a product is an opportunity. A product without a market is a hobby.

    @MythBuster, if I were creating a product, and people who are - or interact with - my potential customers are saying I don't have a market, I wouldn't be so flippant with my retorts. In fact, I'd probably stop what I was doing and conduct some serious market research. 

    Like, months of it. 

    I'd like to figure out who my target demographic is, what they do for work, what they do for fun, what they spend their disposable income on...for starters. 

    The ol' Field of Dreams mantra "If you build it, they will come" has a wake dead products in its path.

    I hope you've done the research necessary to justify your hubris. 

    Good luck. 

    To assume is to make an ASS of U and ME.

    "Because I say so" theme betrays your knowledge level.

    Go away.



  3. On 8/6/2017 at 6:18 PM, Southernhighlander said:

    You can run the oil temp as high as 350F in our newer models without the worry of scorching even the thickest corn mashes, as long as the agitator is on. This allows for some fairly fast stripping runs.  Without running an agitator you should not go over 260 F in the oil jacket or sticking might occur.  Also, as long as you have agitation you can run 350F during the run up to operating temp with some mashes and washes but others will stick (not scorch) in the early part of the mash cook or distilling run, so with some mashes you must keep the temp down below 300F at the start and then once the mash has heated up some you can increase the oil temp.  Our testing shows that it is the temperature differential that causes the sticking in those situations and it happens more at the beginning of a mash cook than at the beginning of a distilling run. The insides of all of our still pots, mash cookers and fermenters are mirror polished so that sticking is less likely to occur in our vessels and this also makes our vessels easier to clean.


    Steam however is always the best option when it comes to heating jackets.  Steam has a much better heat transfer coefficient than  oil.  In a still jacket 250F steam will give you a faster heat up to operating temp time than 300F oil.

    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.


  4. 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!


  5. 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?


  6. 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.

  7. 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.


  8. 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!




  9. 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.



  10. On 01/09/2016 at 11:19 PM, MDH said:

    I think there are two fast approaches to the market... One is to have a smaller heartcut, age in a warm environment with good airflow and  decent humidity for a younger (2-3) year spirit. The second is to make wide cuts and age for a long time. In my opinion the latter approach invariably  yields a more complex tasting spirit.

    Some try to bypass both approaches by using very small barrels, or other "oaking" solutions that respect the integration of oak and spirit but not the chemistry behind how they interact once mixed.

    I think this is what Hubert is trying to convey with this post - there is no substitute for decently wide, but not too wide cuts, and a good long aging time, when it comes to flavor.

    I trust his opinion based on what I've tasted from GR distillery in the past.

    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


    • reaction_title_1 2

  11. 6 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

    @MythBuster You are still talking about packing in the context of continuous operation, outputting final product, correct?

    Your device uses a fixed product take-off point?

    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.




  12. 15 hours ago, Falling Rock said:

    Random Packings, SPP, Dixon rings, Raschig rings, Mesh, Saddles, Pro Pak, Balls (I won't say marbles), stainless, copper, glass, ceramic...they can all be great applied appropriately. But SPP still has the lowest HETP (more plates per height). It's also the most expensive to acquire. But in Stainless Steel it is a permanent solution.

    There are even columns using rocks...

    For neutral, these packing's are more efficient than bubble caps or sieve plates, size and energy required. A lot of that efficiency comes from the mass of the Steel versions transferring heat so well.

    The petro industry regularly uses Structured Packing...another story.


    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!

  13. 7 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

    So how does this translate into real world performance?

    A year back I immersed myself in the mathematics as well as spending a considerable amount of time reviewing literature, paying specific attention to commonly used industrial methodologies.  I'm no mathematician by training, but I didn't think it was an insurmountable task if one was patient and inquisitive enough.

    My conclusion, after all of that work, was that minor improvements in system efficiency didn't necessary translate into major real-world benefits at all.  In fact, what could be considered serious efficiency issues could be easily "corrected" through what were relatively minor changes to geometry, or specific operational parameters.  For example, even minor changes in column height/theoretical trays would easily compensate for what would be poor Murphree efficiencies.

    You don't need to look much further than the hobby community to see this translated into real world performance. Even still designs that shouldn't at all work theoretically still see passable performance.  Realistically, you could fill a column with any compatible material and get passable efficiencies.  Anybody who has built a still themselves, or tinkered, would attest to this.

    And all of this is somewhat moot if we're talking about distillation of products other than neutral alcohol, as by their very definition, these are products who are created through inefficiency during distillation.  The fact that many very good products can be created on a pot still, or through double distillation on a pot still, really is significant evidence that looking to maximize efficiency doesn't necessarily translate to specific benefits to beverage distillers.

    Probably the most striking realization I came to was that to achieve high levels of tray efficiency, you needed to design a system to operate in an incredibly narrow range of operating parameters.  This was critical.

    However, these constraints on operating parameters would place significant limitations on the distiller to run various types of products, or to adjust the operation parameters to suit a specific product.  So while they would give you ideal performance in an industrial arrangement, where nearly zero variability is expected, in the beverage world, this means a still that only does one thing well, when run in a very specific way.

    Just my two cents.

    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,


    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.)







  14. 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.



  15. 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......



  16. 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.........

  17. On 24/09/2014 at 10:42 PM, jheising said:


    I've found that 0.023" mig wire seems to work best— 0.03" has been giving me lots of trouble.

    Some anecdotal data on the Internet seems to say:

    Source: http://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=16533

    I have no idea if it's scientifically accurate, but it passed my initial B.S. meter, so I figured it was a good place to start.

    As for copper.... I've run some copper through it, but it doesn't seem to work well because it's not springy enough. I think the key (at least as I understand it) to SPP is the "star-like" pattern you see on the images I posted above. That specific pattern is very efficient in exposing surface area and it emerges like that as it comes off the mandrel and tries to spring back a bit into its original shape. The copper seems to be too soft and doesn't spring back— it ends up looking more like a deformed/twisty spring which I don't think is going to work as well. I'm also concerned that the copper SPP might become deformed on the bottom due to the weight of packing on top of it. It's just so soft...

    My dad mentioned that perhaps hard drawn copper wire might have more spring to it and be a better suited, but I'm hesitant to order any quantity of it without trying a little bit first.

    Honestly I'd prefer to do everything in copper, so if anyone has any ideas of how to acquire a stiff/springy copper wire in the 0.025" thickness range, I'd love to hear about it!

    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.


  18. On 03/09/2016 at 3:21 PM, 3d0g said:

    Well, they are by very definition amateurs. :D

    Amateur does not always equate to inexperience, however. Far be it from me to defend the home distilling forums, but there are some sharp folks and really clever ideas have evolved over there. I'd hazard more than a few "pros" lurk the HD forums for tips / tricks. Personalities and cliques? Of course. They've been around a LONG time and constantly answering the "Hey y'all, I bought this sweet still online and my buddies are coming over next weekend! I need an awesome bourbon recipe FAST!!!" questions gets pretty damn old.

    I'm simply pointing out that I highly doubt any of us have any need for such a tiny still. Come up with a system to give us a couple more brix out of a bushel or shorten fermentation times w/o sacrificing quality and you'll have our attention. Your target market really is over at http://homedistiller.org/. Clique or not, they're the ones you need to convince if you want to be successful. 

    On 03/09/2016 at 3:41 PM, Silk City Distillers said:

    If its truely innovative, don't share anything online - China will be selling it before you even get the first unit out.

    This is rampant, ask any manufacturer of small stills.  Good ideas get stolen immediately.  If you don't watermark your photos, they'll steal those too.


    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.


  19. 22 hours ago, 3d0g said:

    MythBuster - I think this may not be the best avenue for you. I cannot imagine any commercial distiller being interested in a system that produced 4.5l per week. Maybe try http://homedistiller.org/ or http://www.artisan-distiller.net/? those are the two major home distilling forums.

    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......


  20. 1 hour ago, Silk City Distillers said:

    Also, you need to be careful of your use of the words "Intrinsically Safe", as the terminology has a very specific engineering meaning.

    The concept of intrinsic safety is predicated on reducing ignition potential by eliminating or significantly reducing the amount of electrical or thermal energy in a system.  These are things you are going to find very difficult to accomplish in a distilling apparatus, especially if they contain things like heating elements, motors, high voltage circuitry, capacitors, switches, etc.

    Certification agencies like UL and FM have specific testing methodologies to certify devices as Intrinsically Safe.  It's very different from the concept of Explosion Proof, or even just safety best practices and common sense.   Take a look at UL 913.  These are very rigorous standards.  Intrinsic Safety is a very serious certification.  It's not a certification that would generally apply to a countertop appliance that would plug into a household outlet (that pretty much eliminates the possibility of Intrinsic Safety certification).  This is a standard to ensure that people don't die in hazardous areas like refineries, or miners don't blow themselves up by lighting a shaft up.

    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.......



  21. 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!)

    • reaction_title_1 1

  22. On 13/09/2014 at 4:56 PM, jheising said:

    I'm not sure why, but it feels like some are misconstruing this discussion/argument as one still manufacturer vs. another. I'll just say it again clearly so as to put any arguments to rest. If you want a stripping still, I would absolutely say without a doubt you should consider buying one from Dehner or DIY one like it. Period.

    Is that endorsement clear enough to show that this has nothing to do with some sort of competition?

    This has never been an argument of one still manufacturer vs. another. I am simply saying that we should not be comparing continuous stripping stills to continuous multi-draw, fractionating stills. Period.

    To compare feed rates, efficiency and outputs between the two is meaningless because a continuous stripping still relies on other traditional stills and equipment in order to make a finished product. Any direct comparison would have to take the entire system into account.

    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?


  23. 12 hours ago, Jedd Haas said:

    Here is the other thread:


    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......






  24. 36 minutes ago, Tom Lenerz said:

    He's referring to S. 1562 the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. It is rolled up with the decreased tax rate for distillers and a bunch of other things.


    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.