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New Distillery - Ethanol retention tank


Iain Hill

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I am planning a new distillery and am required by the local city authorities to install an alcohol retention tank to guard against any major spill into the city sanitary sewer. I am having difficulty finding any information on how this system might be designed. The local authorities don’t really know anything about it and only stipulate that I have such a tank.

What I had anticipated originally was to have some kind of in-line ethanol detection equipment in the sewer line that could control a valve to divert any spill to the retention tank but I have not been able to find any equipment that would do this.

Another option was a bit more manual. We would have effluent from floor drains run into our trade waste interceptor (solids interceptor) then continue from there to a retention tank and from the outlet of the retention tank to the sanitary sewer. A valve at the outlet of the retention tank could be closed in the event of a spill and could also be left closed at the end of a work day in the distillery to guard against any spill in the absence of personal. This is of course not ideal but might appease the city.

Does anyone have experience with this issue?

Thank you,

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The local authorities don’t really know anything about it and only stipulate that I have such a tank.

Oh boy. In my opinion, by accomidating this "requirement" you are only setting yourself up for a future of trying to appease a group of partitime experts who's only qualification is whatever it takes to get elected nextime.

I understand the scope of my question when i ask, is there anywhere else you can setup, perhaps a town that wants you there? (and the manufacturing jobs you will create?)

Best of luck,

-Scott

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I'm no expert, but my reaction was the same as Scott's. I'd try to find out what the fears are. Maybe a procedure could be established to keep any discharge below a certain ABV level? Water is cheap, equipment is expensive.

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Iain,

You need to find out which code standards are in place in your area/city/county...such as NFPA, NEC, National Building Code, etc. All have very specific exclusions for Beverage Alcohol at any proof.

Once you find out which codes are governing, please PM me and I will give you the exact sections of that code with the exclusions.

If however, your area/city/county has not adopted uniform codes, then the standards in all chemical, petrochemical, and other types of storage are 1.25X spill containment volume for the largest tank onsite. So, if your largest tank is a 1000 gallon tank, you have to be able to retain 1250 gallons in a spill prevention dike. This might seem like a lot, but it really isn't.

So for example:

1 ft^3 of liquid is occupied by ~7.4 gallons. Extrapolating 1250 g of required storage for our example, you would need 168 cubic feet. Ok, knowing that, if you were to build a 6" dike of mortar around your tank, you would need 672 ft^2, or 336 sqft of containment.

But first and foremost, DO NOT ALLOW your area to constrain your operations when very specific exclusions exist in all of the National and International code standards for Beverage Alcohol. Push back otherwise your CAPEX and construction costs may be as much as 2X as it would be if you applied the exclusions in the codes.

Good Luck.

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Iain,

You need to find out which code standards are in place in your area/city/county...such as NFPA, NEC, National Building Code, etc. All have very specific exclusions for Beverage Alcohol at any proof.

Once you find out which codes are governing, please PM me and I will give you the exact sections of that code with the exclusions.

If however, your area/city/county has not adopted uniform codes, then the standards in all chemical, petrochemical, and other types of storage are 1.25X spill containment volume for the largest tank onsite. So, if your largest tank is a 1000 gallon tank, you have to be able to retain 1250 gallons in a spill prevention dike. This might seem like a lot, but it really isn't.

So for example:

1 ft^3 of liquid is occupied by ~7.4 gallons. Extrapolating 1250 g of required storage for our example, you would need 168 cubic feet. Ok, knowing that, if you were to build a 6" dike of mortar around your tank, you would need 672 ft^2, or 336 sqft of containment.

But first and foremost, DO NOT ALLOW your area to constrain your operations when very specific exclusions exist in all of the National and International code standards for Beverage Alcohol. Push back otherwise your CAPEX and construction costs may be as much as 2X as it would be if you applied the exclusions in the codes.

Good Luck.

John,

Thank you for your insight. I am not a code expert by any means. We are located in Vancouver, Canada and are building the distillery together with a distillery bar in a very busy part of the city. We are working with a good code consultant to gain approvals for the operation. We have come very far and have essentially overcome all hurdles and restrictions. We were initially classified by fire code as what is called an F1 occupancy which is given for the most hazardous uses (paint manufacturing, explosives etc) and since we are in a very urban city core we were faced with some major challenges. Our city has never been asked to deal with a use like ours in an area like this. Our consultant has been able to gain approvals for our occupancy but we are left with a requirement under Vancouver Fire Code to install this retention tank. With that in mind I was wondering if anyone had come across any equipment that could be used for in line ethanol monitoring. I know of eqpt for detecting vapours but am hoping to find something for rapid, reliable liquid detection in-line.

Maybe we could use a vapour detector in the head space of our trade waste interceptor as a way to indicate high conc ethanol in effluent. I just don’t have any experience with this stuff.

Thanks for you thoughts,

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I was wondering if anyone had come across any equipment that could be used for in line ethanol monitoring. I know of eqpt for detecting vapours but am hoping to find something for rapid, reliable liquid detection in-line.

Maybe we could use a vapour detector in the head space of our trade waste interceptor as a way to indicate high conc ethanol in effluent. I just don’t have any experience with this stuff.

Thanks for you thoughts,

Perhaps you are severly overthinking this "problem". If the intent of the design is to prevent any spill from entering the sewer system, have you considered simple deployable berms? http://www.absorbentsonline.com/spill-containment-spill-berms.htm also google "spill containment" for 100 additional resources. This type of system, with a spill contianment plan and employee training (to be used in the event of a spill which is infrequent at best), will be significantly cheaper than the proposed automated detection system you continue to reference in your posts...

best of luck,

-Scott

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John,

Thank you for your insight. I am not a code expert by any means. We are located in Vancouver, Canada and are building the distillery together with a distillery bar in a very busy part of the city. We are working with a good code consultant to gain approvals for the operation. We have come very far and have essentially overcome all hurdles and restrictions. We were initially classified by fire code as what is called an F1 occupancy which is given for the most hazardous uses (paint manufacturing, explosives etc) and since we are in a very urban city core we were faced with some major challenges. Our city has never been asked to deal with a use like ours in an area like this. Our consultant has been able to gain approvals for our occupancy but we are left with a requirement under Vancouver Fire Code to install this retention tank. With that in mind I was wondering if anyone had come across any equipment that could be used for in line ethanol monitoring. I know of eqpt for detecting vapours but am hoping to find something for rapid, reliable liquid detection in-line.

Maybe we could use a vapour detector in the head space of our trade waste interceptor as a way to indicate high conc ethanol in effluent. I just don’t have any experience with this stuff.

Thanks for you thoughts,

If you are F1, it sounds like you are under International Building Code (IBC). This is commonly being employed by the states. The IBC refers to other fire codes regarding flammables (IFC, for example), and all of the fire codes usually have some specific exceptions for beverage alcohol, as has been noted here. Beverage ethanol is usually NOT treated the same as other industrial hazardous flammables. From the point of view of their sewer system, ethanol can be safely diluted into the sewage stream without presenting a significant environmental or health hazard, hence why the exception. You need to find someone to champion that with Vancouver. From a waste point of view, your ethanol is far less of a problem than your stillage.

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