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In the process of building out a distillery in a rural location. Existing building has a septic system in place for grey/black water (way too small for this application --- so new system needs to be designed). Before the distillery project, the building was used as a spring water bottler, so not a lot of issues with waste products.

Obviously, I can have local farmers pick up the spent grains/yeast waste, but need ideas or requirements for the wastewater coming for the distillation process (residual alcohol, etc...) and the cleaning process (caustic, acid, etc...). I am a professional brewer, so I know the importance of treating waste products, but I have always been involved in "city" projects.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Of course, the TTB, state, and local gov't wants to know this as well. Thanks and Cheers!

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In the process of building out a distillery in a rural location. Existing building has a septic system in place for grey/black water (way too small for this application --- so new system needs to be designed). Before the distillery project, the building was used as a spring water bottler, so not a lot of issues with waste products.

Obviously, I can have local farmers pick up the spent grains/yeast waste, but need ideas or requirements for the wastewater coming for the distillation process (residual alcohol, etc...) and the cleaning process (caustic, acid, etc...). I am a professional brewer, so I know the importance of treating waste products, but I have always been involved in "city" projects.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Of course, the TTB, state, and local gov't wants to know this as well. Thanks and Cheers!

Two of our potential sites have similar issue, although one was a food processing site and had an enlarged septic system for the purpose. I know permits are required (we are in MI) based on your specific projected output. Would be very interested in what you learn; perhaps you can forward what is not posted here. Thanks.

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Waste is the largest issue to be faced by a distillery. In my experience, making, selling and marketing products are minor details when compared to waste. We have easily spent more money trying to equip a waste treatment system than we have on shiny Christian Carl distilleries.

It may even be worse for city bound facilities than those located off the Public Waste Water Treatment system.

Much of the effluent from whiskey production is not "waste" but fertilizer with very large BOD, COD, potential heavy metals, and relatively acidic pH.

These non-waste components mean that some sort of extensive pre-treatment will need to be performed before placing this stream in a sewer. The solids may not be considered "sludge" in the traditional way and may be excluded from the sludge side of a Public system.

A farmer who has land with an agronomic need may be able to surface apply these steams to fields after thay are pH neutralized with anhydrous lime.

A swine producer may be able to take your waste and mix it with his feed. Interestingly, Distiller's Dried Grains are actually traded on the Chicago exchange. William Grant and Sons as well as other big producers, claim to be generating methane from biological digesters and generating electricity....but back to reality.

We are using a SOMAT Archimedes screw press to separate the solids (whole mash distillation) from the liquid. These solids are being composted as we have not found a farmer who will consistantly take this stream off our hands. I have found a European boiler manufacturer that can provide a boiler that will take this waste stream directly without pelletization and burn it for hot water. I haven't yet bought this beast.

The liquid side of this stream is being trucked off site to a Public System at $0.25 per gallon. We have a recessed filter press that "should" take the hot waste stream and post flocculation allow it to be pressed to dry cake. After a year of trials, we still are not using the press as we can't get a consistant flocculation and we are still experimenting with screen types for the press.

In New York, there is a publically funded governmental group that has the directive to reduce energy costs. I have contacted an engineering firm to evaluate any co-generation technologies that I may be able to get grants to purchase, i.e. the CHP European boiler.

Our non-contact cooling water is re-cycled as hot water for the next cook. We have set up vegetative sand beds (VSB) in hopes of being able to transpoevporate some of our waste water.

I bought a small steam boiler where I hope to be able to burn "waste" alcohol for steam. In my test firing, I had steam in 15 minutes.

As you attempt to solve this issue at your own facitiies, keep in mind that in the USA we still have relatively cheap fuel sources. The operators in Europe are MUCH more attuned to the costs of fuel than here in NA. I have looked for a partner that would use my waste stream to grow mushrooms or tomatoes off season to no avail.

Best,

Brian

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In the process of building out a distillery in a rural location. Existing building has a septic system in place for grey/black water (way too small for this application --- so new system needs to be designed). Before the distillery project, the building was used as a spring water bottler, so not a lot of issues with waste products.

Obviously, I can have local farmers pick up the spent grains/yeast waste, but need ideas or requirements for the wastewater coming for the distillation process (residual alcohol, etc...) and the cleaning process (caustic, acid, etc...). I am a professional brewer, so I know the importance of treating waste products, but I have always been involved in "city" projects.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Of course, the TTB, state, and local gov't wants to know this as well. Thanks and Cheers!

In our planning one of the issues that kept coming up was the question of how we intended to clean the external surfaces of the equipment and the floor. Or friends in the wine making business out here turned me on the using ozonated water as a very powerful cleaning method with virtually no waste product downside. The only negative is the cost of the system, they run north of $10k. The wine folks use this process all over they locations, including hosing down incoming fruit in the parking lot, with the waste going into the storm drains. Turns out that the ozone which has been added to the water breaks down in about 20 minutes, with nothing but oxygen and water left. You do need to take care in using this in an enclosed space, as the ozone is not particularly good to breath in high concentrations.

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In the process of building out a distillery in a rural location. Existing building has a septic system in place for grey/black water (way too small for this application --- so new system needs to be designed). Before the distillery project, the building was used as a spring water bottler, so not a lot of issues with waste products.

Obviously, I can have local farmers pick up the spent grains/yeast waste, but need ideas or requirements for the wastewater coming for the distillation process (residual alcohol, etc...) and the cleaning process (caustic, acid, etc...). I am a professional brewer, so I know the importance of treating waste products, but I have always been involved in "city" projects.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Of course, the TTB, state, and local gov't wants to know this as well. Thanks and Cheers!

You're a pro brewer? Then this'll be easy.

1. Keep your CIP tank for caustic heated, and have enough on hand for all your needs. Return all used caustic to this tank. On occasion, you can blend this 2% (1.5% is better, for obvious reasons) caustic (potassium hydroxide is best for animal feed) into your spent grain (this is common in Germany) a little at a time. Say, a gallon or so per week. The acidity of the stillage will neutralize the caustic.

2. Use food grade citric acid for your acid rinse. This you'll have to test for copper content before you feed it to animals (once), but this will be your main "waste" stream. Everything else will be rinse water for floors/exteriors.

3. When you rinse your fermenters/stills of the excess caustic or acid after CIP, add it to the stillage. The food grade chemical will be so dilute, that it's of no concern to animals. This is how it was handled for many breweries I worked at in Germany. (Siebel Class of '96, Doemens Class of '97).

4. Any time you rinse a tank, fermenter, or fittings, run it to stillage. It's pretty easy to watch your rinses carefully. Now the bulk of your "wastewater" is headed to a farm, where it'll do some good. Use those 55 gallon polyeth. blue barrels for stillage, and make sure you can pump your stillage out of your still into these barrels. Put an ad in Craiglist for farmer to pick up the spent stillage. We had 20 phone calls in 24 hours when we 1st placed our ad.

5. Use peracetic for your sanitizer. Run it to stillage.

Now all you're left with is cooling water. If you want to get serious about water usage, you can, as you know, simply run a cold liquor tank---> Hot Liquor tank setup, just like you do in a brewhouse. This burns energy, obviously, but it'll reduce your water. If you want someone who'll do your condenser water usage math, call Mueller and ask for their shell and tube dept.

If you want help with your septic setup, call Black and Veatch. They've designed WW treatment setups of all kinds for breweries and distilleries worldwide.

Cheers.

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Sorry for the delay....have been traveling like a madman! I wanted to say thanks for all of the responses regarding this issue. Making progress with TTB, state, and local on all fronts. Thanks again and Cheers!

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Sorry for the delay....have been traveling like a madman! I wanted to say thanks for all of the responses regarding this issue. Making progress with TTB, state, and local on all fronts. Thanks again and Cheers!

Could you provide us with an update on how you resolved you septic concerns?

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I'm trying to get approval for a rural distillery in Michigan, and would also like to hear from any other rural distilleries who use septic systems. It seems like the anaerobic bacteria should be able to treat much of the BOD, COD's, given a neutral-ish pH, and some time (assuming at a moderate rate). We are projecting about 1,500 gallons of liquid waste per week. Do any other micro-distilleries have experience with this? I toured several distilleries (eight) last week, and none of them have any problems with distillery waste. Am I overworking this issue? I am still waiting for soil samples to be done, when the ground melts...

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In the one place I had draconian septic laws, a small artificial swamp made out of a cistern was the solution. We checked Ph weekly, and adjusted when necessary (I think once or twice during startup, and one other time when we changed our chem regime) It cost about $3000 to set up, and could process about 5000 gallons a week.

The sound of the frogs singing at night was an entirely different issue!

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My county has approved my rural distillery project with a septic. Environmental just ordered that I hire an engineer to design my waste water system, and they have to accept what the state certified engineer puts her stamp on. In my case, after much discussion, we are basically doing a standard septic except ill have a above ground pre-system tank where things can cool off and be ph adjusted before entering the system. Then a time release dosing will let it go in intervals, so not to over load the system. Designed to handle 500g a day. Super simple and just a standard septic plus a 500-600g stainless tank+time release system. Also there is a cider/brandy maker near me who is on a septic, and he's pretty large scale, multiple 5000g fermenters. He said he's only had to pump it once when they dumped what he called "some real nasty stuff" . My system is designed with the notion that all grain will be separated out before liquid heads down the drain. Scrounge

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Scrounge, Thanks for the post...great information... this should help with our health department (which probably doesn't know what to do with these situations). How much do engineers charge for the plan (approx.)?...trying to budget, with minimal resources. Thanks.

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Well we discussed it back and forth on the phone, with me giving her #s of things like anticipated gallons, ph, and other info, so she could think about it, for free. Then she charged me $450 to come out and take site measurements and draw the plot plan to submitt for the "site and soil analysis" , with $100 of that crediting to the system design. County just approved that and were waiting for the rain to stop so we can dig test holes and see how much soil I have. Then she can design the leach field based on that info, which she's estimating at around $1500 for design. That's pretty standard around here, $1500-2000 for a septic engineered. Then you still have to dig and install the system per the design. I've budgeted another 5-6k for that, with me doing all the work myself. We'll see?

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Awsome information Scrounge, thanks a million. We'll also be doing most of the site work ourselves, provided the backhoe works this spring...

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Update would be that all went according to the plan stated above and the distillery has been producing since last November. Everything works fine ,but we do not put grain slop down the drain. A standard septic cannot handle that bio load

 

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