Jump to content

Existing hot water boilers (in cheese plant) vs. starting fresh with steam


Recommended Posts

Hello,

We're just in the beginning stages of getting zoning and permitting on a multi-month or year journey to getting our DSP. However, as you who've started businesses all know, the more you have down on blueprints/paper at least in theory the easier everyone from governments to construction guys has it later (or can pick it apart).

We are very unique in that we are already a dairy farm and cheese plant. Thus, have the unique situation that we currently use two hot water boilers to heat our milk to 145F degrees for 30 minutes, then 85-95F for various times, as result of the cheese make process. We're also in the process of adding a chiller. I've spent the last 8 months studying distillation in my free time but I'm no expert... an animal scientist by training and writer/marketer by profession. I've read all the "hot water boiler" discussions in the forums but it appears everyone is comparing starting new and I think the obvious answer is steam in that scenario most of the time. 

In our case, I'm trying to figure out the money side of things when we already have boilers. We'll be using whey for our spirits which means we'll have an energy intense process relative to the same amount of ethanol production from a grain fermentation.

As far as equipment:

  1. We'll need to use some sort of Mash Tun to basically boil the whey and create ricotta cheese for either human (called ricotta cheese) or cow consumption.
  2. Next a fermenter, and
  3. Then the still(s).

We are looking at making liqueurs/cordials from a "white whisky that we cannot call whisky", plus some saved for whatever we invent as aged dairy "non-whisky" (cows eat and ferment grain, too! but I digress) if that is helpful.

What we currently have in our process and planning:

  1. About two to four batches of cheese putting out 4,000 pounds whey per cheesemake, which has about 4.5-4.6% lactose, which should mean we get about 125 pounds/14 gallons/52 liters of ethanol potential (70% rough conversion rate with yeast that can get after some of the galactose).
  2. To get there, we'll need to heat/agitate the whey to about 195F or 150F for 30 minutes and add citric acid or vinegar (which I know is a no-no for copper) to get the protein to come coagulate and then drain off liquid
  3. Add lactase and ferment with distillers yeast (for at least 3-4 days). I believe we'll be fermenting a product of 95% water, 4% lactose (which we'll split into simple sugars with 70% efficiency) and 1% minerals. So, taking out the roughly 0.5-0.8% protein means just plan on a 4,000 pound/465 gallon/1760 liter fermentation.
  4. Distill in 2000L pot still (unless someone wants to sell me a column still for less than I can imagine ;)).
  5. Send to spirit (pot) still or re-run through single pot still.

We have two 379,000 BTU hot water boilers. I believe they should easily be able to handle the process of doing this, but I am scratching my head on how to figure out the R.O.I. or trade-off in months/years of investing in something like steam right away instead.

We'll also soon be installing a chiller for our cheese plant which can be used for our future distillery. Not sure how necessary it will be, but should at least save water in the condenser process. 

I do have some engineering help on the way, but with everyone on here so helpful feel free to blast anything I've said or run calculations differently so I can talk smarter to my engineer, plumber and electrician down the road... thanks in advance for any ideas or roadmaps.

Lucas

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hot water will work, kind of.

 

Why "kind of"?  Water of course boils at 212, but as your 211 degree water circulates through the jacket you'll have a heck of a time transferring enough heat through the jacket to say raise 190 degree mash water to 200 degrees since there's not a large difference in temperatures between the liquids to have a fast energy flow. With cheese hitting 145 degrees is not a problem with hot water, it's actually a pretty good energy source for doing that...but not for at or near water boiling.

 

With steam you have 250ish degree steam hitting a 211 degree inner wall, which is of course will cause the steam to instantly condense on the jacket, and since the energy in that 250 degree steam can not be destroyed, only transferred, that extra energy basically gets 100% instantly transferred to the inner wall, which you won't get with hot water.

 

I've had baine a bain marie style still and tested out heating oil, water based heating fluids, glycol, and water. Oil provided the best results since the temperature could be brought up to over 300 degrees, but changes to the heat input were delayed by 10 or so minutes due to the large thermal energy present in the oil (along with being a  relatively poor thermal conductor).  The water based heating fluids kind of worked, but suffered from rapid breakdown from oxygen in our open air system. The glycol, water, and mixes of the two were basically complete failures since they could not provide a high enough temperature to provide adequate heat transfer into the still, and the result was basically boiling of the solution inside the jacket instead of boiling inside the kettle.

 

You can do things like raise the pressure inside the jacket to achieve a higher boiling point, but it's still not using the right tool for the job.  A vice grips on a bolt kind of works, but everyone knows a proper wrench is a far superior tool. Steam is the far superior tool for working with temperatures closer to the boiling point of ethanol or water.

 

With it being harder and more expensive to startup a *profitable* distillery every day, you need to start out on the right foot. Having the wrong equipment could doom an otherwise flawless business plan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would look at using RO membranes (similar to the maple syrup industry) to bring up the sugar content. At ~2%abv (70% is too high a conversion factor, it's more likely ~50%) you'll need to triple distill in a pot-still to get something of sufficient strength to be able to make reasonable cuts on. A batch-still with a column will still need 2 runs to get up to sufficient strength, but if you are trying to use the same still for both runs you might need to collect 5-6 or more runs of strip to have sufficient volume to fill the still. Removing as much water as you can earlier in the process would save a lot of time and money.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have vacuum stills that will do the job for you with your hot water.  Our vacuum  stills allow you to distill at 150 F giving you the temperature differential that you need to have a very fast run time with hot water.  If you have enough BTUs the stripping runs can be completed in as little as 2 hrs including the stills heat up time.  If you are interested email paul@distillery-equipment.com

  • Thumbs up 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

A belated thank you for all the help! Have my real job, and my other real job ;) and working on these future plans in good time. I appreciate the ideas and direction and had seen Southernhighlander's posts previously and thought that may be a good option. Cheers! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vacuum distilled whey spirits seem like a marketing gold mine, super unique. The two businesses seem to go together really well logisticaly as well. I think you've got a fantastic plan.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/25/2021 at 6:53 AM, Cheesy-Whisky said:

What we currently have in our process and planning:

  1. About two to four batches of cheese putting out 4,000 pounds whey per cheesemake, which has about 4.5-4.6% lactose, which should mean we get about 125 pounds/14 gallons/52 liters of ethanol potential (70% rough conversion rate with yeast that can get after some of the galactose).
  2. To get there, we'll need to heat/agitate the whey to about 195F or 150F for 30 minutes and add citric acid or vinegar (which I know is a no-no for copper) to get the protein to come coagulate and then drain off liquid
  3. Add lactase and ferment with distillers yeast (for at least 3-4 days). I believe we'll be fermenting a product of 95% water, 4% lactose (which we'll split into simple sugars with 70% efficiency) and 1% minerals. So, taking out the roughly 0.5-0.8% protein means just plan on a 4,000 pound/465 gallon/1760 liter fermentation.
  4. Distill in 2000L pot still (unless someone wants to sell me a column still for less than I can imagine ;)).
  5. Send to spirit (pot) still or re-run through single pot still.

We have two 379,000 BTU hot water boilers. I believe they should easily be able to handle the process of doing this, but I am scratching my head on how to figure out the R.O.I. or trade-off in months/years of investing in something like steam right away instead.

To fully utilize one 379,000 BTU hot water boilers, you will need a cooling system that pumps 1,030.3 gallons per hour of water through it, with an inlet temperature of 20 Celsius. This is a large volume of water ...

In this case, the area of the alcohol condenser (the area of heat exchange in the condenser) should be 0.8--1 square meters.

The water temperature at the outlet of the cooling system will be about 44 degrees, and you can get up to 17.4 gallons of alcohol per hour at the outlet, with a temperature of 43 Celsius.

These are big numbers...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/19/2021 at 3:21 AM, Alex_Sor said:

To fully utilize one 379,000 BTU hot water boilers, you will need a cooling system that pumps 1,030.3 gallons per hour of water through it, with an inlet temperature of 20 Celsius. This is a large volume of water ...

In this case, the area of the alcohol condenser (the area of heat exchange in the condenser) should be 0.8--1 square meters.

The water temperature at the outlet of the cooling system will be about 44 degrees, and you can get up to 17.4 gallons of alcohol per hour at the outlet, with a temperature of 43 Celsius.

These are big numbers...

We are currently installing a gylcol chiller for cheese purposes. Regardless, we're planning on steam (and always were, but were praying/hoping we'd missed something).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...