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Efficient water use - Cooling

edited June 2013 in General

Hi All,

When I started distilling with the T500 one of the things that appealed to me was the water economy. Where I live we do pay for water but aside from that It's always good to be kind to the environment. I was keen to get a barrel or drum to hold 150 or 200 odd litres of water and a fish pond pump to feed it through the still condensors. That way I could use the same water over and over again. No doubt it will heat up somewhat during the process but how much I wonder?

Does anyone use a system like this with a StillDragon?

We are about to build a new house and I was wondering if I could bury a huge plastic drum full of water beside the garage foundations and have it plumbed in so it was out of the way. Any thoughts? Might need a grunty pump to lift the water up and into the garage where I'd be distilling and the feed hose would need to be low in the tank but there must be a way to do it. If it was big enough it may not even heat up too much during the course of a run. I guess you'd need to increase the pumps flow as it did warm.




  • I use a 180l reservoir & feed the flow from the still through a car radiator (with fan) before the water returns to the reservoir. The water does warm up over a spirit run.

    if you're building a house, why not install a large water tank & use that as your reservoir? Or build a pool & use it.

  • Yeah I thought about a radiator. The pool is the best idea though, I'll run that one past my wife and see if she thinks the expense of a pool, safety fence and all the required landscaping is warranted just to make some really good booze.

    Cheers, Damo.

  • wrong approach. It is a family leisure area ;-)

  • I tried to use a 275 gallon tank for cooling water. Works ok for product condensor but not for the Dephlagmenter. The water getting hotter and hotter screws with the reflux setting. For product condenser as long as the water is cooler then the vapor it works ok. My 275gall tank would go from 50F to 170F over the coarse of a 4 hr run. I got rid of it and plumbed it to constant cold water supply.

  • edited June 2013

    Several of us use a cooling tower type of design to help cool the return water and save on water changes. Basically water enters the top of the cooler and is spread out and slowed down by some type of media. Some use swamp cooler pads but the latest trick (I believe PrairiePiss deserves the credit) is to use Bio Balls. As the water is traveling down the tower a fan is used to force air up and through the Bio Balls and out the top of the tower taking heat and humidity with it.

    the efficiency of these units depends greatly on the environment they are in. If you still in a hot and humid location this design will not work well at all. But if your in a climate controlled area it should work fine... I ran for 5 hours before I had to do a water change on my last spirit run, but i have my AC and ceiling fans on high. I also vent the top of the tower to the outside so im not adding humidity back into my shop.

    One of us should really do a proper write up on this for the SD forums... and since i have been enjoying some of my product tonight, this is NOT a proper write up. :) But here are some pics of mine (that I copied from Hawks Design) that hopefully will get the idea across. At some sober time in the future ill attempt a proper write up.

    Here is a shot of the cooling tower:


    Here is a closeup of the fan. It doesn't have to be this extreme of fan but the more airflow the better.


    Here is a shot of the inside of the barrel. I added a float valve so I wont have anymore floods when i forget to turn the hose off. You can see a shot of the submersible pump in the bottom.


    To hold the bio balls in place I sacrificed one of the better-halfs tupperware lids. Drilled some holes and siliconed in place


    Here is a picture of what the Bio Balls look like:


    And here is a short (boring) video that shows it in action

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  • This is crazy, I didn't even think of using the pool! :-B

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  • Probably better to run a heat exchanger coil into the pool water, instead of using the pool directly. The pool chemicals might interact with your cooling system pipework.

  • @Myles, my thoughts as well. Does someone already have such pool cooling in use? I'd love to see some photos on how to best solve that one.

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  • I use a 200l drum with a submersible pump, has plenty of power. I had heating issues till I put the tank outside and ran hose about 10m from tank to still, no more heat probs. Plus, I put in a 3way connector on my inlet and out let hoses and the connector seems to be acting as a heat sink.

  • I used to use a 200 litre drum and the only time I had trouble was on an extended cleaning run when I managed to get the full 200 litres very hot. I was just running a water / vinegar mix in the boiler on full reflux, and got distracted.

    I had intended to double tank it this time round with connected tanks, pumped from 1 and returned to the other, but am considering incorporating a fan driven cooler system instead.

  • @Moonshine said: Does someone already have such pool cooling in use? I'd love to see some photos on how to best solve that one.

    I've previously used the kids pool that was 3.4m across & 70cm deep. it didn't heat up. But sorry no pics.

  • I use a couple 20 gallon trash cans hooked together in series. I keep a dozen or so 2 liter soda bottles in the big freezer and drop them into the cans if the cooling water starts to get too warm. I occasionally drop a half a cup of bleach in the water to keep it from getting too funky.

  • edited October 2013

    My v6 commodore system, hooked up to a old solar camping deep cycle battery system and a borrowed "local bar bin"




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  • edited October 2013

    Immersion Coldfingers work really well for keeping reservoirs chilled. They're kind of spendy, but can be found for a decent price. Some of them have built in circulators too, so you don't even need a pump. Just clamp it into your reservoir and attach your plumbing directly to it. can build a REALLY effective Coldfinger for under 30 bucks and it works amazingly well.

    From top to bottom:

    An old computer heat sink with fan -> 90 watt peltier chip -> 3/16 stainless steel plate -> stainless steel bolt welded to the plate.

    Thermopaste helps if you spread it between all the units.

    This one is someone else's, which gave me the inspiration to build mine:


    You can insulate the top of the bolt too, depending on your situation.

    Clamp one or two of these to a 5 gallon buck and you can knock down a few kw at least. Maybe not big enough for the big dogs, but it works for hobby stillers.

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