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New startup question about setting up

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On 5/24/2018 at 10:00 AM, MGL said:

I also dont think the safety concern of running high wines in a still is the combustion inside of the still.

 

22 hours ago, Southernhighlander said:

So you are advising someone to run 85% alcohol in a  still pot using electric heating elements.  That advice will get someone killed.  If your advice gets someone killed you are responsible for their death and are completely liable. 

Maybe u should read what I wrote a second time.

18 minutes ago, Southernhighlander said:

   Your statement defies common sense: "30% is not safer than 85%".    If we go with your logic than having a 10% wash in the pot  is no safer than having 85% high wines in the pot at 150 F of course you are absolutely mistaken 30% is safer than 85% because of all of the other variables involved.  After reading the below I''m sure that you will agree that haveing 10% or 30% in a still pot with electric heating elements is a great deal safer than 85%?

  If you put 85% in the pot you will most certainly expose the heating elements and they will burn out catastrophically before the first run is complete.  With 30% low wines that is never going to happen unless the still rupters.  All of the stills that we currently sell to distilleries have wall thickness that are good for at least 25 psi before they rupture (some of our inner pots are good for over 100PSI) and they have 5psi pressure relief valves on the pot and the latest models have them on the column as well so the likely hood of a rupture is millions to one.

its all about flash points. I aint too smart, but a flash point is a flash point and something above the flash point temp is no more dangerous than something at its flash point.  For your construction, have you ever sold a still wich had a cheap chinese weld break shortly after its been put into operation? Asking because I know the answer and I might even have a photo layin around.

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My stills do not have cheap chinese welds.  Also we pressure test the inner pots of all of our stills at more 30 times the operating pressure.  

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2 hours ago, MGL said:

 

Asking because I know the answer and I might even have a photo layin around.

Unless you are one of my customers who has experienced a problem, you had better tread very lightly here.   Also if you make any false statements concerning me, my company or my equipment, you will find yourself in a pickle.   

The quality of our equipment is proven by all of the many wonderful reviews that we have on the ADI forum and elsewhere.  The positive reviews outway the negative reviews in a huge way.  In fact I have never seen a negative review of our equipment.

In all the years that we have been in business and out of all of the thousands of vessels that we sold.  I remember 2 broken welds and that was some time ago but neither where a liquid leak could occur.  We have had 2 different instances were we had pinhole leaks that were so tiny that we did not pick them up when we pressure tested with air, which is why we now hydrotest.  We have solved all issues that any of our customers have ever told us that they had.  Even the best  manufacturers have issues from time to time.  What separates the good from the bad is how those issues are handled and what the manufacturer does to make it so those issues do not happen again.  We have improved the quality of our equipment and our designs continuously since we built our first barrel still. 

Currently, I do not believe, that apples to apples, there is any manufacturer out there that has equipment any safer than ours.  Please, if someone knows of any safety features that will improve the safety of our stills  let me know and we will look into adding those safety features. 

Also Hudson Bay had the welds on the still that we sold him inspected by a Canadian welding inspector and the review was excellent.  Also I just had a customer who is a retired welding inspector from boeing give me an outstanding review on the welds on the equipment that we sold him.

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On 5/24/2018 at 12:38 PM, Tom Lenerz said:

Aren't you the one selling stills with electric heating elements? If it is such a concern why would you take that risk that no customer of yours or anyone they might sell the still to or an unknown future employee might use the still in a way it wasn't designed for?

Come now, that isn't reasonable. You are expected to know how to properly operate, and to know what can be put in such a still. Like NOT mash, that would be stupid, it would burn. And NOT sulfuric acid, or gasoline. But nothing would PREVENT you from doing that, except not being stupid. At least Paul is letting potential customers know what the limitations are. There are still manufacturers that might not!

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3 hours ago, MGL said:

its all about flash points. I aint too smart, but a flash point is a flash point and something above the flash point temp is no more dangerous than something at its flash point.  For your construction, have you ever sold a still wich had a cheap chinese weld break shortly after its been put into operation? Asking because I know the answer and I might even have a photo layin around.

It is not JUST about flash points. As I mentioned, it is not good to run even SS elements in direct contact (because of high local temperatures) with very high proof alcohol. Also, the conventional feedthroughs used for the elements are usually not good for high proof.  I won't say you can't run a still generally at higher proof, you must do so for certain spirits, like absinthe, where you often start with 70 proof spirit. But then the still should be configured for that, using indirect or steam heating, and making sure any gasketing and other materials are suitable for exposure to high proof. JMO.

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I agree with everything Blue Star has said including his advice to the OP

 

Firefighter, I am sorry that we got off track.  To reiterate, whoever you decide to get your spirit still from, it should be jacketed.   Whatever you do, do not put 85% in the pot of a direct fired electric still.  For vodka it is best to run low wines at between 25% and 35% in a jacketed still, with 20 plates, a hybrid column equivalent to that or a packed column equivalent to that but remember that packed columns lack versatility . Steam is always best but a Baine Marie is a necessity for what you want to do if you cannot afford steam.    

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14 hours ago, indyspirits said:

Other than cost,  why on earth would anyone not go with steam, or at the very least bain marie?  I can think of no other benefit other than cost. Not one.  Someone help me understand

I am of the opinion that with steam, you do not have as exacting temperature control together with response as compared to electrical elements.  More importantly so, I am do not have steam and nor an I planning to install a steam generator.

 

With the Bain Marie, you do not get the Maillard reaction.

14 hours ago, Southernhighlander said:

All of the stills that we currently sell to distilleries have wall thickness that are good for at least 25 psi before they rupture (some of our inner pots are good for over 100PSI) and they have 5psi pressure relief valves on the pot

My wall thickness is substantially thicker than Chinese imports.  The boiler is 3mm throughout.  I only use stainless steel fittings so with respect to my SS pressure relief I have an option of either using adjustable down to 0 bar or the fixed unit which I am presently favouring because it functions both as safety over pressure at 1 bar (a little too high) as well as vacuum safety.  I further am comfortable with the latter because I have additionally internal presure monitoring within the kettle via the PLC / pressure transmitter and this is furter interlocked with both heating and kettle functioning.

 

14 hours ago, Southernhighlander said:

Is your new build compliant with all of the rules for the class 1 division 2 hazardous environment?  One of the biggest mistakes that is made is having a control panel that has a cooling fan to pull air into the panel to cool the SSRs

Yes, but I have concerns.

 

The control panel is intended to be at least +5m away from still.  I am not using the baby SSR's as everyone uses where you can stick the cooling fins external to the panel but rather a large single 30A unit for the three phases and for sure this is going to get warm.  This unit is equipped with monitoring and other features.  So the jury is presently out on cooling and hence the proposed distance.

 

The only control sitting on the still is the HMI.  The entire still control and its heating manipulation will be from this HMI.

 

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Class I Div 2 industrial users have gone to pressure positive inert gas purge systems go air cannot leak into panel and cause a spark and explosion.

Last one I quoted, an electrician was doing work on the substation about 75 yards away from the plant where they were going to put the chiller to avoid cost....well a garage door was opened at the plant resulting in gas moving to the substation causing an explosion and fire that killed the electrician and put the company permanently out of business.

Never underestimate.

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richard,

 

I'm sorry, i lost track that you were in South Africa where the rules may be different.  Here in the US the area 6 ft away horizontally from any part of the still, 3' above the floor in that horizontal space and 24" above any part of the still, is considered a class 1 division 2 hazardous environment.     If you have an agitator, it needs to be explosion proof.  Your control panel would need to be more than 6' away from the still unless it is explosion proof.  If it is 7 ft away and outside the C1-D2 area it should still be at least NEMA4.   Contactors do not create heat so you can use them in a fully enclosed NEMA4 panel without cooling fans.  We use contactors and SSRs in our panels.  The SSRs are 40 amp and the amp draw per element is 13.26 at 240v 3 phase and 22.92 amps at 240v 3 phase.  We also build heating systems for 208v and 480v in single and 3 phase.  We do not do 600v heating systems.  

Some of our larger stills have an inner boiler thickness of over 8mm.

It sounds like you  are well on your way.  I understand why you want to go with direct electric heat and your points concerning direct electric heat are well taken.  Many people doing all liquid washes especially, barley based, off the grain washes share your same views.  I bet if we counted all of the stills around the world, there would be several times as many stills fired by direct electric heat than Baine Marie and steam stills combined.  Most Distillery Equipment Vendors sell direct fied electric stills and they are the bread and butter for home distilling equipment vendors. With tens of thousands of them out there, so far everything seems to be going okay, knock on wood.  In fact I think that there are a lot more instances of pressure canners blowing up and injuring people, and there are certainly a lot more instances of propane fired Turkey fryers going up in  flames.

All distillers should know that no still is absolutely 100% safe.  In sort of an abstract way, a still is no different than a chain saw.  Even the best made stills and chains saws are only as safe as the operator makes them.  I spent years as a logger and then many more years as a head sawer, working a few inches away from a 52" diameter circular saw blade spinning at 600 rpms.   I have a great respect for anything that can kill me or hurt me badly.  When working around dangerous equipment you should never lose that perspective.  If you become complacent forgetting that your still and the ethanol it produces can hurt you, that's when things can go wrong very quickly. 

All of that being said, are well built direct fire electric stills more dangerous than well built  baine marie and steam fired stills?  With all of the variables involved I think a lot more study needs to be done to ascertain that.  I would say that if someone runs the direct fire electric still properly they can certainly mitigate the danger to a level where they can use their direct fired electric still in the same mannor every day for 30 or 40 years and never get hurt.  I used chainsaws to cut very large trees and a giant circular saw to saw them up for over 30 years and was never injured, because I thought about the power of what I was truly dealing with every day and never became complacent. 

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our engineer set our place up exactly like what you described paul . our building inspector would blow a gasket if our panel box was beside our still. i guess there different inspectors for different parts of the province . 

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OPENING POST:

Hi folks,

I've been distilling as a hobby for quite some years and have decided to try my end at a bigger and more "legal' operation.  I want to make a grain based vodka and use it as well to make some gin. From what I've been researching I need to cook my mash, through a jacqueted mash tun so as to prevent scorching. I am looking at this item right now https://shop.distillery-equipment.com/collections/stills/products/200-gallon-mash-tun-stripping-still  and my question is, can I strip my mash and then transfer it to another still like this one to finish my vodka ? https://milehidistilling.com/product/53-gallon-copper-6-inch-diameter-mile-hi-flute-6-sections/  

Would it work, or am I missing something?

 

Just so you are aware, the mixing motor on the mash tun has a 3 phase motor. Great if 3 phase is available on your site. An added expense if it isn't.

Avak

 

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Hi Avak,

 

All of our pro series equipment comes with VFD drives that can be wired in single phase or 3 phase to produce 3 phase power to the agitator.  The VFD drives also give the agitators variable speed and reversing capabilities.  So if you are in a rural area or if you are just in a space that only has single phase power, hat is no problem.  We also do the same with all of our pumps.  We can also accommodate most any voltage including single phase 208,220,230,240,460 and 480 as well as 3 phase 208, 220,230,240, 460, 480 and 600.  Also we are one of the few companies that have electric heating system for our baine Marie stills in single phase 208,220,230,240,460 and 48 as well as 3 phase 208,220,230,240,460 and 480.  We can usually give the customer whatever they need.

http://distillery-equipment.com

http://moonshine-still.co

http://triclamp.co

 

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Even if I had 3 phase I’d still run though a VFD - and I’d have one that has over current monitoring and protection. 

Slow start, motor protection, reversing, speed control - VFD is always the way to go.

For what you get for a few hundred bucks, worth every penny.

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21 minutes ago, Silk City Distillers said:

Even if I had 3 phase I’d still run though a VFD - and I’d have one that has over current monitoring and protection. 

Slow start, motor protection, reversing, speed control - VFD is always the way to go.

For what you get for a few hundred bucks, worth every penny.

I agree, we use WEG for all of our smaller stuff and Hitachi for our larger stuff.  We are vendorrs for both companies and our prices are better than most of our competitors on drives.  Everyone should stay away from the Chinese ones.  We tried some of them in the beginning and they were all junk.

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I think a few might be looking at the flash point / fire point a bit incorrectly. Yes it may be true that as a static substance, the vapor of a 30% wash would contain less energy and have a somewhat higher flash point that a static 60% wash vapor, but that's not what we all do for a living. What we do for a living is convert that liquid into a vapor ABV% far and above the pot wash beginning virtually the moment it starts to warm up. In some cases that conversion may be from 30% to 80% almost instantly (once up to temp). So the fact that one has a 30% low wine in their still that they then transform into a 80,90% ABV spirit really has no bearing what-so-ever on the "flash point" or inherent danger or safety of the process.  Again, the only way the "static wash ABV" matters, is if you had two pots side by side, neither one was being heated, and someone threw a match into both. The 30% may not go Boom, but the 60% probably would. If however you had both stills up to temperature, there would be virtually no difference in the outcome. 

 

 

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While the likelihood of ignition may be similar, 100 gallons of wash that is 85% ethanol has a great deal more explosive force than 100 gallons of wash that has 30% ethanol in it.  It is 85 gallons of ethanol instead of 30 gallons of ethanol.  30 gallons of ethanol has 2,280,000 BTUs of energy bound up in it and 85 gallons has 6,460,000 BTUs of energy in it.  So 85% is more dangerous when ignited because it has more than twice the explosive force.  The explosive force of 100 gallons of 85% will kill and injure people much farther away from the still pot and do a great deal more damage than a 100 gallons of wash that is 30% ethanol.  So, having 85% in the still pot does mean that the inherent danger is higher  because 85 gallons of ethanol has a great deal more explosive force than 30 gallons of ethanol.  It is a bigger bomb.  

We have been building equipment for the pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries.   This equipment uses 190 proof and 200 proof ethanol to extract oil from plant materials of many different varieties.  Vacuum stills are used to reclaim the ethanol and separate out the oil.  The extractions are done at around -50 degrees C.  Ethanol reclamation and oil separation are done at around 87F., so the vapor never exceeds 87F.  I design these systems so that there are absolutely no ignition sources in the distilling area.  There are not even any explosion proof electrical components,  However the truth is that the likelihood of ethanol ignition using one of these systems is very low compared to the kind of beverage ethanol distillation that most people on this forum are doing.  However the powers that be dictate much tougher safety protocols when your wash vessels have  1,000 gallon capacity and your vacuum still has a 500 gallon capacity.  The reason for the tougher safety protocols is because, 500 gallons of 190 proof is a really huge bomb, which of course means that the system has more inherent danger than if 30% ethanol were being used.  This is the way that I must look at things, if I am to design  safer systems.  

I have designed and sold beverage ethanol systems that are purpose built to put 190 proof in the pot, however I build them without an agitator or any other electrical devices ex or not.  I do so because of the increased danger that is caused by the greater explosive and flammable forces involved.  The powers that be take these greater explosive forces into account and so must I.  It is all about making things safer from many different directions.

 

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I have supplied chillers for these Low temp type processes for over 30 years (plus the fragrance industry) where alcohol is used and if the chiller or any electrical device is near a possible alcohol fume, and can produce a spark (even from a stone hitting a fan motor) it must use NEMA-7.  Most common way do do this now is to nitrogen purge a NEMA-4  enclosure or encapsulate the device (fill it) with silicon so no oxygen can enter.

I am rather surprised so far that a craft distillery has not blown up to change standards (liability and insurance), knocking many out of the business.  

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Here is a picture of a dry fired element. Hmmm...... 

Energyelectric -1

Avak

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There are tens of thousands of direct fire electric stills in use all across the US and all over the world in fact.  We have sold several hundred of them from 5 gallon to 200 gallon and there has never been a fire that I know of, in the US or anywhere in the world, caused by an immersion heater in any still, produced by the myriad of companies that produce them. 

 

  We have also done a lot of experimentation concerning the matter.  We have purposely burned out over 20 elements, by dry firing while stills were in operation.  I love to tinker and experiment.  We did an experiment where we made an ultra low watt density immersion heater ignite ethanol in a 5 gallon still pot with the lid off.  we simply put enough 190 proof in there to get it hot before it cooked off down below the element and the element dry fired and burned out catastrophically.  It would only do that with the vessel completely open to atmosphere.  When we tried the same thing with 190 in the pot distilling with the pot, line arm and condenser full of, vapor there was no explosion.  We did it several times.   You must have oxygen to combust the ethanol vapor or liquid.  However, no one should ever have anything in a direct fired electric still pot over 15% in my current opinion.  That is less than the 30% that we suggested as the maximum in the past, however I reserve the right to change my mind anytime I like, when it concerns design or safety matters.

 

  Our current directive in our safety manuals states that you should never put anything in the pot that is over 16%, when using a still with immersion heaters directly in the wash.   We have sold hundreds of electric baine marie stills and around 19% of US distilleries are using our stills, which is really amazing considering all of the competition.  Only around  1% or 2% of the distilleries using our equipment, have our direct fire electric stills.  Around 64% of the stills that we have sold to distilleries are electric baine marie.  The rest are powered by low pressure steam.  We supply most of the low pressure steam boilers used by our steam stills and mash cookers etc.  

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