Condenser Problems

Hi

I have just set up a 380L still with 2x 9kW immersion heaters. It's connected through a gin basket to a 2" long condenser. The condenser is cooled using a glycol/water mix from a chiller unit with reservoir.

I tried it out for the first time today and vapour came out of the surge preventer underneath the condenser. Reducing the heater power to 9kW reduces the vapour escaping but there is still a lot.

I assume the condenser isn't working effectively.

The coolant inlet temperature was 2°C. The outlet was a little warmer but still cold to touch. There was condensation on the outside of the condenser showing that it was cold. If there was a problem with the cooling system I would expect the outlet liquid to be hot and for the reservoir to gradually heat up but it didn't.

I also tried cooling with mains water directly at 10°C with a decent flow rate, but still lots of vapour.

Has anyone encountered this before? Is my condenser too small? Do you have any recommendations?

Kate

Comments

  • That's too much power for the surface area of a 2" condenser. Two options, add more inline condensers with the output of one being the input of another. Or, add stainless scrubbies to the through tubes of the condenser to increase surface area. Still might not be enough, but give it a try.

  • 9kw is way too much input for a 2 " condenser.

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  • Thanks for the speedy advice. How many 2" condensers do you think would be enough?

    I was considering swapping for a 4" condenser, but it would be much more expensive than adding another 2".

    Kind regards Kate

  • An inline 3" should cover you, though I personally would just get the 4" and sell off the other 2". The bonus of the 4" is that you'd be able to put in more than just the 18kW if you ever felt like it (cutting your power up and run times down and saving money on electricity, those chillers are not cheap to run). It's always worth initial investment if you can afford it and save in the long run (dun dun tisss)

    Also make sure your condenser ins and outs aren't back to front haha, it happens.

  • Thanks Kill Devil Spirit Cold in at the bottom and warm out of the top is how our other condensers work. I'm guessing these are the same.

  • I ran a 4" x 1-meter on my 380 and was very happy... even 2 2"x20" condensers is not enough, maybe 3, but that takes height... I went to 8"-1.2meter for my 1000L and giggle at how little water it uses and still puts out water within a degree of the vapor temp...... no glycol required, just pump it through a heat exchanger with fan

    I think @smaug is making me a couple 2"x1-meter condensers that are polished/clean on the inside, I might try those in series on my vodka rig, since the output is fairly low and the column is high...

  • 2 inch condensor is only good for up to 10 litres an hour depending on input water temperature . We do 3 inch condensors or bigger on systems 200l and over at SD au.

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  • The only 4" that stilldragon do is 510mm. Do you think that will do?

  • There's another one with a parrot mount that's 48" / 1219mm

  • The 48" condenser doesn't seem to be available in Europe unfortunately.

  • @Kate the 4" 510mm would be fine, I've used it on more powerful and bigger set ups (27kW 8" 4-6plate) with no hassle.

    What size is your column (if you are using one) and if so, do you use your dephleg like a vodka run or more like a whiskey or rum run? not at all? Desired output/hr? All these little bits add up to what cooling power you need. And like @CothermanDistilling said, the larger {edit: the condenser is} in comparison to power in, the less overall energy is needed to knock it all back down again.

  • We're mostly rectifying gin and liqueurs, so no column or dephlegmator. We'd like to do a run during the working day so probably 40 l/h.

  • Also of thought, you could add the 2" after the 4" as a post chiller, it may not get equal liquid through all holes but it would definitely work, I did it on my 4" when my groundwater was over 80F to get my distillate below 90F when running high speed through the 4"..

    Another thought, you could try two 2" condensers, that size always has value in some smaller still like for gin or tests, and the price point is great... I have 4 of them and they are always finding use in some project.

  • Thanks everyone

    I'm going to get a 510mm 4" and if it's not enough add on my existing 2" and if that's not enough get a second 4" to connect up to the first.

  • Very good call. Especially if you're going for the "workday" schedule, you'll be putting quite some power in and need to be able to knock all that vapour back down.

    Best of luck!

  • I’m way over condensed on my product condenser and love it. Water usage is so low it’s ridiculous.

    I’m Hard pressed to find a drawback to more condensation power either on product or reflux.

  • Bigger is better :-bd

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  • edited March 22

    Big reflux condensers paired with very cold water/glycol make controlling reflux a little bit tricky, as it becomes very easy to throw the column into 100% reflux, with a tiny change to flow rates. Flow a little more than that, you start to sub-cool reflux to the point of flooding, and it takes a long time for the column to recover/equilibrate. If you are using PID controlled valves to control reflux condenser temp, this makes setup and control very, very tricky.

  • +1 @grim

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  • What is this “very cold water” of which you speak? Isn’t all ground water 82°F?

  • 4°C in winter. That's very short

  • edited April 3

    @jbierling said: That's too much power for the surface area of a 2" condenser. Two options, add more inline condensers with the output of one being the input of another. Or, add stainless scrubbies to the through tubes of the condenser to increase surface area. Still might not be enough, but give it a try.

    Well the StillDragon condensors are strait (no baffels inside and strait tubes ) so with two condensors with half a meter instead of one 1 meter long (theoretical at least )will be better. Expect a good increase with only one added.

  • 2" condensor is good for up to 10l/hr depending on coolant temp. Doubling it will give a little less than double that, so still way under the target flowrate.

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  • Is there an approximate “sweet spot” for the 3” shotgun condenser? Trying to decide between the 3” and 4”. Currently leaning towards the 4” for lower water consumption.

  • 4", you will not be sorry...

  • The 4” condenser is currently out of stock in NA. Any idea of when more will arrive?

  • The thread is about product condensors.

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  • Looking for the 4” x 20” shotgun product condenser.

  • @punkin said: The thread is about product condensors.

    it shifted a few posts back, just making sure...

    looks like they have the 'long' 4" product condenser, but it is not inexpensive...

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