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Continuous Column Distillation

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Most folks out there making great whiskey reach a point fast where they realize their distillery is not making enough whiskey to meet future anticipated demand.

The vast majority of us have all started on batch or pot stills, which are difficult to grow production with as demand increases.

Any folks out there considering adding a single pass continuous column to their operation?

If your distillery and whiskey sales are growing is a continuous still and option you have considered?

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I have almost finished building a continuous column, to use for stripping run only, will still use pot for spirit run. Have done a few short test runs only.

They are so energy and space efficient. 

and a big bonus they don't need cooling water or chiller for condenser.

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I run a Vendome 12" Continuous. Most people cannot wrap their mind around it but columns can be "tuned" or run differently to get a taste you prefer.  

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Hi Toddy,

I have never encountered a 12" column from Vendome before. Is it a single pass or just a stripping column?

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Per Pete's post, you still need the chiller system for cooling mash. 

If you can't get the mash done fast enough, it will become a choke point for production.

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On 11/7/2018 at 6:00 AM, PeteB said:

I have almost finished building a continuous column, to use for stripping run only, will still use pot for spirit run. Have done a few short test runs only.

They are so energy and space efficient. 

and a big bonus they don't need cooling water or chiller for condenser.

Who's plans are you using Pete?  I am familiar with http://www.ferromit.com  He's in the Southern Hemisphere as well.

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I just finished up a Column here in Iowa. 30' tall 18" column, Insulated to 28" in dia. LED light via blue tooth. 17 GPM.

I specialize in continuous stills.

IMG_1200.jpg.fcb6b73503f542628cdc6c18388271be.jpg

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11 hours ago, Thatch said:

Who's plans are you using Pete?  I am familiar with http://www.ferromit.com  He's in the Southern Hemisphere as well.

I designed it myself with 5 main things in mind.

1 to make whisky

2 cheap

3 easy to build

4 energy efficient

5 throughput of about 2,000 litres in 8 hours.

I had some help from meerkat with calculating number of plates, and have spent a bit of time talking to Dehner.

It runs on waste fryer oil, doesn't need any cooling water, in fact at the end of the day I have well over 1,000 litres of hot water at about 90 deg C

To date I have not run it for full 8 hours. Still playing with correct pump to control feed rate.

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1 hour ago, PeteB said:

I designed it myself with 5 main things in mind.

1 to make whisky

2 cheap

3 easy to build

4 energy efficient

5 throughput of about 2,000 litres in 8 hours.

I had some help from meerkat with calculating number of plates, and have spent a bit of time talking to Dehner.

It runs on waste fryer oil, doesn't need any cooling water, in fact at the end of the day I have well over 1,000 litres of hot water at about 90 deg C

To date I have not run it for full 8 hours. Still playing with correct pump to control feed rate.

Hi Pete,

I tried to PM you but your messaging is turned off.

We are somewhat similar to you.  I have a distillery inside a malt house and we deal directly with our farmers to grow a specific variety of barley for us.  We also will be making whiskey.  The 5 points you make are perfect for us.  The 2000 liters in 8 hours is the number I am looking for but I would want to do it with 480 volt 3 phase electricity.  Any idea who I could talk to about building such a still?  Or, where can I get plans for such a still.  Ferromit.com is not responding but I might purchase his plans online to get some ideas.

Cheers,

Thatch

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I have changed my settings, hope PM will work no but not convinced.

or email me pbignell@belgrovedistillery.com.au 

Except for a file for CNC cutting of simple plates the rest of the plans are in my head

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On 11/12/2018 at 6:21 PM, captnKB said:

Hi Toddy,

I have never encountered a 12" column from Vendome before. Is it a single pass or just a stripping column?

It is what they call a "bourbon still" or a column with a doubler. https://www.facebook.com/cdwhiskey/ you can see some pictures and videos on facebook. a couple of other people are running similar set ups Peerless distilling runs a 14", KO distilling in Manassas, VA runs a 12" i think, Silverback in Afton, VA runs a 12" with a thumper instead of a doubler. I think there are over a dozen in the wild just don't know who all has them. your need other equipment like a beerwell, constant steam pressure and controls are important. 

 

  https://www.headframestills.com/stills/  these look interesting too  

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24 minutes ago, HottyToddy77 said:

It is what they call a "bourbon still" or a column with a doubler. https://www.facebook.com/cdwhiskey/ you can see some pictures and videos on facebook. a couple of other people are running similar set ups Peerless distilling runs a 14", KO distilling in Manassas, VA runs a 12" i think, Silverback in Afton, VA runs a 12" with a thumper instead of a doubler. I think there are over a dozen in the wild just don't know who all has them. your need other equipment like a beerwell, constant steam pressure and controls are important. 

 

  https://www.headframestills.com/stills/  these look interesting too  

Just out of curiosity, how fast are you able to feed that thing? 5-8 gpm???

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56 minutes ago, Stumpy's said:

Just out of curiosity, how fast are you able to feed that thing? 5-8 gpm???

depending on how we are running it and weather 2.5-4 gpm

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@PeteB for your beer pump ive found that a standard centrifugal pump works best, and then meter your flow rate with a valve. This will yield the most consistent flow rate as long as you are pumping consistent mash.

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16 hours ago, captnKB said:

@PeteB for your beer pump ive found that a standard centrifugal pump works best, and then meter your flow rate with a valve. This will yield the most consistent flow rate as long as you are pumping consistent mash.

don't know if it helps but my beer pump uses a rubber impeller with a VFD some people use a FLIP type cart pump.  pushing  a 30' head is a task

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Thanks for the suggestions guys.

The problem I have experienced with centrifugal pumps is if there is still some CO2 in the beer they cavitate especially if trying to push to a reasonable height ie. with back pressure. The flow control valve and column height would cause back pressure. Also any solids in the feed could obstruct the control valve. The centrifugal would be fine if no residual CO2 or solids.

I think the rubber type impeller pump which is a positive displacement type would be far less likely to have problems, Jo Dehner suggested the same.

Can you give me a lead about where I can buy these with VFD? I have 240vAC or 12v DC. Ideally I want to connect it to a temperature activated  PID controller

Cheers

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Ive run a few different types of pumps as beer feed pumps on continuous stills, including flex impeller, centrifugal impeller and lobe pumps. Ive found centrifugal to work best while metered by a valve. As long as your solids are not huge, the valve can meter flow and maintain flow to within 0.1 GPM no problem.

For a centrifugal pump to work properly in this application if must be mounted below the beer well. The head pressure of beer above and head pressure of the outlet will prevent any cavitation from occurring.

@PeteB if you are looking for a turnkey pump solution with pump motor and VFD the folks at TCW equipment have a few good options they can sell you.

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pete , how are you regulating the level of bottoms product in your reboiler . do you have a float inside or a over flow system . were having problems maintaining a constant level in the bottoms kettle . any info would be great 

tim 

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11 minutes ago, Hudson bay distillers said:

pete , how are you regulating the level of bottoms product in your reboiler . do you have a float inside or a over flow system . were having problems maintaining a constant level in the bottoms kettle . any info would be great 

tim 

We've had luck with 2 different options:

1. King Gage  - http://www.wisnercontrols.com/store/pc/King-Gage-ES2-Slimline-Electronic-Level-Transmitter-19p507.htm

2. 2 Floats and a pump on a VFD - high level float and low level float. When both floats close, pump is on, when both floats open pump is off. User can control speed of pump via vfd to fine tune to input so the bottoms level always stays between the 2 floats...or very close.

In my opinion the king gage is the way to go because you can use the 4-20ma output to run the vfd on your pump....totally automatic with no "user tuning".

Just my $0.02. Hope it helps!

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7 hours ago, Hudson bay distillers said:

pete , how are you regulating the level of bottoms product in your reboiler . do you have a float inside or a over flow system . were having problems maintaining a constant level in the bottoms kettle . any info would be great 

tim 

The bottoms kettle is the boiler, I am feeding the column with flavour filled steam, not with clean steam. I am making whisky, not neutral spirit.

The kettle overflows and gravity feeds through tube in shell heat exchanger to re-claim the heat. The outflow does surge a little but I don't think it is a problem.

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12 hours ago, Hudson bay distillers said:

thanks pete thats what iwas wondering if u were running floats or just a overflow . 

tim 

 

The overflow pipe  starts at the bottom of the conical boiler so it purges solids before they build up. 

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