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Kothe Still - Plates and Dephlegmator


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Hi Everyone,

We have a 1000L Kothe still we just hooked up. A local brewery gave us a wash and we ran our first ever batch through the still. We're still learning our equipment and I wanted to reach out to the forum to get some help with some of the issues we're having.

1) Dephlegmator - When the guys from Koval came to set up the still, they said we wanted to run our dephlegmator at around 77C. This has proven very difficult. The dephlegmator is cooled by the water that exits the condenser - the condenser temp is controlled by a thermostatic valve on the ingoing cooling water. As the distillation progresses, the temp of the dephlegmator will increase and the ABV in the parrot will drop significantly (seemingly way before it was supposed to). We had to then increase our cooling to compensate, long story short the temp and our ABV ended up being all over the place for most of the distillation. Has anyone else run into this? Since other factors play a role in the dephlegmator temp (vapor temp, volume of vapor) do you think it would be a good idea to get the dephlegmator on it's own, separate control system that can self regulate the temp of the dephlegmator itself? Also, is it a good thing that the dephlegmator temp increases as the distillation continues? Will this allow for compounds with a lower vapor pressure and higher BP which could add valuable flavor components to make it through into the tail end of the hearts?

2) The plates - What effect have you all found in terms of adjusting the liquid level in the plates? I have in my notes from when the Koval guys came here is that having the plates more closed (high liquid level) gives higher separation (cleaner distillate) that having them all the way down. Is this because it forces all of the steam to condense when it hits that plate? Wouldn't having the plates more open force more liquid to drain back into the previous plates and into the still and also have a purifying effect? What effect to do see in ABV off the parrot with the plates? Effect on the flavor? Difference in upper plates vs lower plates? Any recommended ways to run it?

Thanks everyone, hopefully I can repay the favor with some needed info for you one day!


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  • 5 weeks later...

Although a couple have stated that they run separate cooling lines, would anyone be willing to answer some of the questions posed by ADK?

In particular, the effect of a rising temp in the dephlegmator...I have also experienced the issue mentioned when the dephlegmator is fed from the condenser output.

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we've built quite a few systems that fed the Dphlegmater from the product condenser output, it required a control system that could regulate flow based on dephleg temps, and allow bypass the dephleg a certian ammount in order to maintain cooling temps in the product condenser.

it can be done, but added complexity that just wasn't warranted, so our newer systems control flow to dephleg and product condenser independently.

talk to Sherman Owen at Artisan Resources LLC, He can get you sorted with a control system retrofit that will bring your still under control, and make it pleasant to distill on.


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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 years later...

The best control you can get on the Deph is having its own separate cooling fluid supply and proportional control is preferred. Said control is modulated by a sensor in the Deph tower head. While solenoid control can work and many use it, correctly designed proportional will be more stable and eliminate the sign wave hunting if sized correctly.

If you are operating in the USA is it helpful to give units in degrees F, and avoid all Metrics as possible. I do not know any HVACR Mechanic born in the USA that should have any use for the Metric System. C represents to large of a degree of change. Americans do not think this way.

There is another tendency that has been noted of inadequate chiller capacity in this type of arrangement which will work against you, as you will have to constantly alter your process trim to compensate for changes in cooling media temperature. The best way is to have full and adequate cooling that stays the same temp throughout the entire process or you will be chasing things in a backwards manner. As thus having an undersized chiller will lend towards process and product inconsistencies.

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