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3-Oaks Distillery

grain/liquid separation

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I have a small problem and hopefully someone can assist.  I have a small distillery (2500 bottles per year.)  I use a heat exchanger so cannot have solids in my system for the still.  I am now emptying mash tank into a 50-gallon cart with a strainer in it and scooping out solids into a wagon for disposal.  I'm getting up in age and want to figure out a different system.

I'm thinking maybe an auger with a gate on the output end that would compress the mash and the liquid would run back down the auger and out the bottom into a container.  Then I could open the gate and dump out the solids.  Can't spend over 2k as it just wouldn't be financially feasible. 

If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate it.  The used equipment that is on the market that does this starts around 4k so not viable.

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hello three oaks , can you remove the screen in you cart after your wort has been drained  off . if you can u may be able to add waste water and backset in with the grain until it is a slurry and be pumped out with simple 2 inch submersible sewer pump . just an idea 

tim 

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Hi.

I have a similar problem. My plan is to re-purpose a small SS conical fermentor to make a press. I plan to cut a circle of perforated SS sheet  just a bit smaller than the inside diameter. This is dropped inside, making a self-centering false bottom. Pump the mash into this filter/fermentor slowly and let it drain through  on its way to the chiller. Once the mash tun is empty, drop a circle of SS sheet  on top of the wet grain. Rig the pump to suck from the bottom of the filter/fermentor and pump. Atmospheric pressure on top of the non-perforated sheet squishes the grain like a grape press.

I can see potential problems if your pump generates a crushing vacuum. Check out the pump specs first. It will say the height the pump will prime itself. This can be 5 meters (7.5 psi) for a FIT pump. This is serious pressure. Over the area of a 24 inch disc, that is over 1000 lbs. A "T" in the suction line hooked to a water vacuum break should prevent "squashed beer can" surprises.

Another potential problem is a poor seal around the non-perforated disc. A circle of polyfilm 2" larger than the disc  laid between disc and grain should provide a seal.

If it works as planned, you still need to get the compressed grain out. A floating rope (Spectra, Dyneema) attached to the center of the perforated disc should end up on top of the grain "cookie" when the non-perforated disc is removed.

This hasn't made it to the top of my project list, but i will keep you posted.

Avak

 

 

 

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3 oaks,

 

If you can find a hog farmer they can take it liquid and all.  My family fed spent mash to hogs for years and they loved it and did very well on it.  The liquid is filled with nutrients.

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@Avak - Don't waste your time, it doesn't work.

I have tried everything in an attempt to not need to buy a very expensive machine from Russell Finex, Kason, or Vincent.

I'll tell you this, static presses do not work, period.  Don't waste your time and money.  The screens will occlude, the system will clog, and the mash will remain completely wet.  You will not be able to safely build the pressure necessary using any kind of simple tank.  The closest approach to this is a filter press, and unless it's a filter press that either has air injection or bladders, your plate sections will simply fill with wet mash.

Those machines are expensive because they do work.  These wiper/screw presses are fairly simple conceptually, but realize that you need to find the absolute perfect balance of screw taper, screen, wiper, back pressure, feed rate.  In many cases, you are paying for the expertise needed to provide a system that works, not the specific parts.  You could easily spend $20,000 trying to build a similar machine that doesn't work.

The reasons that rotary screw presses and decanter centrifuges work is that they are self-cleaning and do not clog easily.  They can handle variable particle sizes and significant differences in types of particles.  A small bit of corn is a very different animal from a barley husk.  Once you accept this, you will realize that no static filter press could ever work.

That said, we use a screen, a squeegee, and a scoop.

It's incredibly low tech, but is exactly how a wiper/screw press works.

Squeegee is necessary to keep the screen clean and to unclog it.  

The trick is, never allow the tank to fill, this is bad.  You need to squeegee and scoop, never allowing the screen to fill.  Just like the machines work.

And do it as hot as possible, the higher the temperature, the easier it is to separate.

You'll need to find a balance, larger screens are easier/faster to work with, but will allow more solids through.

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Or you can give the mash grain and all to a row crop farmer and they can put it in their manure spreader and then put it on their field's as fertilizer.  I would simply run an add listing wet stillage for sale to hog farmers.  Why do it the hard way?  I had no problem finding several hog farmers to buy my mash liquid and all.

 

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The biggest challenge you'll face is finding a reliable farmer who picks up when he says he'll pick up. Not only does it spoil, but it can bring your entire operation to a halt if you can't even empty out your still.

If you're in the city this becomes harder since there's less local farmers and they have more places looking to get rid of grain. Just within a few miles of us there's about 50 different breweries and distilleries who are trying to get rid of it, not to mention all the grocery stores and food salvage companies who are also looking for farmers to take their expiring produce.

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Keep in mind these guys are talking about separating mash or beer, not stillage (post-distillation), so they can't pump it into totes.

Separating corn or rye mash, right after mashing, pre-fermentation -> this is the absolute most difficult separation.

Not only is the liquid the most viscous it will even be, it needs to be done in a sanitary manner.  Even worse, if it's been cooled already, now it's impossible.

I really wish people wouldn't sell stills with immersion elements to people who even remotely hint about making whiskey.  Sure, the still is 1/3rd of the price of a jacket or bain marie, but now you've got to deal with the impossibility of lautering corn and rye mash.

 

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The only reason I bother separating the grain from the mash before distillation is that the still I have, has a flat bottom. Its a fucking pain in the ass to clean it out - it uses way too much water and time. So, I endure and continue on. I use a grape press - it actually does a pretty good job.

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2 hours ago, Silk City Distillers said:

 

I really wish people wouldn't sell stills with immersion elements to people who even remotely hint about making whiskey.  Sure, the still is 1/3rd of the price of a jacket or bain marie, but now you've got to deal with the impossibility of lautering corn and rye mash.

 

I agree, the problem is that many still vendors just want to sell a still to the customer and they do not care what the customer actually needs.  Many times the customer does not know what they need and so they go for the cheaper still.  I have a set of questions that I ask most customers before I can offer them  still, mash tun, fermenters and pumps, low pressure steam boiler and other heat sources

Name all of the spirits that you will be producing?

What will the inputs be for each spirit?

How much do you want to produce per year?

What is the size of your space

what is the size of your distilling area

What energy sources do you have available such as nat gas, propane etc

What is the elevation of your site.

I also typically spend around 1 hr or more with the customer the first time that they call.  I use this time to steer them in the proper direction if that is what is needed.  If they say that they want to do corn  off of the grain, I tell them that it is a bad idea and I try to steer them in the right direction.  I let them know the different ways that different spirits can be made including vodka and gin from GNS.  I give them every secret that I know about craft distilling that might give them an advantage.  I never upscale.  I always offer them the correct equipment for their needs and budget.  Many of my customers  have told me that I spend more time with them and am more helpful than any of my competitors that they have spoken with.  I am all about the customer, before and after the sale is complete.

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Concerning direct fire electric stills were the heating element is in the wash.  We sell very few of those for distilleries, however if the customer is doing all liquid washes and no mash cook is needed and they have a tight budget and they never intend to use anything other than all liquid washes then I will offer them a direct fire electric still.  It is all about what the perticuler customers needs are and what their budget is.

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1 hour ago, Skaalvenn said:

The biggest challenge you'll face is finding a reliable farmer who picks up when he says he'll pick up. Not only does it spoil, but it can bring your entire operation to a halt if you can't even empty out your still.

If you're in the city this becomes harder since there's less local farmers and they have more places looking to get rid of grain. Just within a few miles of us there's about 50 different breweries and distilleries who are trying to get rid of it, not to mention all the grocery stores and food salvage companies who are also looking for farmers to take their expiring produce.

If they are not willing to pick up every day that you distill that is a problem.  Most of the farmers in my area are old school and their word is their bond, however if they don't pick up there is enough demand that someone else will.  Of course everyone's situation is a little different.  i even thought about raising a few hogs but I hated it when I was a kid and I probably would not like it any better now.  Farmers who distilled legally and illegally in the 18th and 19th centuries nearly all used their spent mash to feed their own livestock.

 

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Our chickens do a great job of eating everything we throw at them :)

  • Haha 1

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You're not the only one. I know a number of our customers using hydraulic grape presses for extraction on grains, honey, and herbs for botanical extracts. Works great.

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 well today we brought this unit home sure hope it works ,,needs big acid bath and some mods on the plumbing and should be ready to give it a try . im thinking we may need to modify the bottom so that we can tilt it back to slow the solids down if there coming off to wet . time will tell . 

tim 

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thanks mr Dehner if you have any ideas on how you would set it up or modify it please do . i started another thread about the hydrasieve so not to offend 3 oaks . 

tim 

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