Distilling very weak Wash

edited January 31 in Usage

I'm wanting to distill a very weak beer 2-3% in a 12" 16 Plate column still with a 1000L bain-marie boiler but could do with some help on still temperatures.

I would love to heat my still with our wood chip boiler which can only get up to 90°C and from what I've been reading to get ethanol out of a 2-3% wash I would need to be up at 98°C or so to be able to get it all out?

If I do need the extra few degrees I was hoping I could fit electric elements either inside the still itself or in the bain-marie sump and close my boiler off and allow the elements to heat it the rest of the way.

I am looking into ways of increasing my wash % but I don't want to add anymore sugars as this will take away from what I'm aiming to do.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • edited January 31

    Got any pics? How do you currently run your BM? What heating medium do you use? Does your system have a PRV? Is your BM rated for low pressure?

    At 1 bar you should be able to achieve 120C jacket temps.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited January 31

    Robin, you do not have the boiler yet - right?

    the question for me would be why you don't get more ABV. What are you distilling, what do you do with the wash? Why does your woodchip boiler only make 90° water? We have seen distilleries who use an extra boiler for the hot water, but usually they have no problem producing boiling water. Sorry for my questions.

    StillDragon Europe - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Europe & the surrounding area

  • Low alcohol runs l like that are almost not worth it with a batch still...

    Even with direct electric heat, which is much better near boiling temps than bain marie, I turn away 3-4.5% wash due to the cost of electricity and labor.. not worth it to get 3 proof gallons out of 100 gallons of wash...

    side note: I think a continuous would shine in that case... (said as I eye my 8" test rig and my 17' long piece of 4" SS tube I have standing vertical in the distillery waiting to be worked on)...

  • Agree that the continuous styled feed would allow for faster feed stock heat up with less energy,,,providing you can account for heat loss.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • edited February 2

    At the moment I dont have a Still but I do have our 300KW boiler which is used to supply the houses and cheese making . The boiler can go up to 95C Max temperature.

    We are looking at fermenting Whey left over from our cheese making process which gives a very low % Beer as there is not enough sugar in it to get any higher and I dont want to add anything else to it as it will take away from the reason we are using it.

    I did think about a continuous design, is it possible to adapt one of StillDragon's stills to do this?

  • edited February 2

    Boil the whey wash prior to fermentation to concentrate it and increase sugar to reasonable levels.

    Also explore vacuum evaporation.

    I believe this is how others are doing it.

    There may be a possibility to use reverse osmosis to concentrate and remove water.

  • We are looking at RO but it's very expensive do looking at alternatives.

  • Do you happen to have an anaerobic digester on site? Typically these are used with gensets to pump electricity into the grid, but the heat from cooling the engines on the gensets is often used for heating either through radiant heat or heat pumps.

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