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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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