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Are spirit plates always located at the top of a rectifier column or segment or can their position be relegated lower for lesser proof alcohol?


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I was wondering whether the solid spirit plate in a continuous still rectifier can be repositioned if a lower proof spirit is needed (or will this require re-assembling) ?

Also if it's position is fixed at the top of a rectifying unit, does that mean that if a lower proof spirit needs to be run it will all be based on thermal control?

Is the spirit plate ever externally and deliberately cooled? 

 

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Hey bro idk if I know exactly what your asking but I think I do. Some other really smart people will chime in soon probably. I can give you my limited understanding from the specific systems I'm using. Spirit plates are high in our beer column to keep them free of mash. Our columns are continuously fed mash about 2/3 / 3/4ish the way up the beer column. Mash goes through a series of sieve plates on 2 of our columns and large single bubble cap trays with drains on another still until they hit the sump, where they recirculate and are heated. The assumption is the ethanol is stripped before exiting the still as bottoms and will ascend up the still past the point where mash is being fed in. At this point on all of our stills we have what i'm assuming you're referring to as spirit plates/trays, which on some of our stills are large copper single bubble plate trays, on another are copper multi bubble cap trays, and on another are stainless steel bubble cap trays. For the stainless steel still, there is copper media above the spirits plates where we are able to control a glycol coil. On another column there is a traditional depgh that we run mash through for coolant which helps act as a preheater. On another still there Is a different type of condenser for temp control.

 

The basic gist of it is the same, you want to keep your sump temp at one that is blowing off a lot of vapor, and you use reflux to control proof at the top of the column. Instead of moving the plates, control the temp like you mentioned. We fractionate for heads in either a pot still for finishing or in a separate column depending on the still thats operating.

 

The materials I mentioned are important. The spirit plates are all copper in our stills above the point of entry of mash because we can't clean them with caustic, which is really the only way to get rid of grain soil in continuous whiskey distillation. The stainless sections can be flooded with caustic for a soak, then we CIP the whole column (ss and copper plates) with citric yada yada yada. In other columns of different sizes and applications sometimes these are areas of higher reflux, like perhaps copper media, or even in lab/shortpath distillation we may sometimes see fritted discs etc. Notice, copper media and small bubble cap trays can get plugged with mash, which is why you often see spirit plates and lower plates with different designs. 

 

 

Cheers

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/24/2021 at 7:17 PM, perfection said:

I was wondering whether the solid spirit plate in a continuous still rectifier can be repositioned if a lower proof spirit is needed (or will this require re-assembling) ?

Also if it's position is fixed at the top of a rectifying unit, does that mean that if a lower proof spirit needs to be run it will all be based on thermal control?

Is the spirit plate ever externally and deliberately cooled? 

 

I didn't quite understand your question :) probably because English is not my first language.
I will answer like this.
1) The continuous column can produce different concentrations of alcohol. 35% to 75% (approximately). It depends on the number of trays, the point where the mixture is fed into the column (how many stripping trays and how many trays that increase the alcohol strength).
2) If you need a continuous column to produce a weaker concentration of alcohol, you must increase the amount of water vapor in the column.
3) If you need a stronger alcohol outlet, you must reduce the steam supply to your column.
4) in all cases: the most important point of temperature control is the point at the bottom of the column, where the mixture exits the column (and meets the steam). The temperature there should be 98 degrees Celsius. This gives you the assurance that all alcohol will be removed from the beer.

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