3 Chamber Still

So what ya know about these beasties? I watched a interview with Todd Leopold about them. Very interesting. He says it works because in the top 2 chambers there's 4 feet of mash in each. This causes hydrostatic pressure forcing the steam to pressurize in the bottom chamber allowing the temp to reach above 220f. This allows him to get super deep in the tails - beyond what's possible in a non-pressurized still. He said he's pulling so much oil that the meniscus is huge.

EDIT: Ah I found a better picture and can now see that Mr. Hirsh does indeed have that labeled as a doubler.

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Comments

  • edited May 10

    It exists in a world of purposefully less efficient stills, similar to Jamaican double retort stills.

    A few years back I talked about this world that existed between 0 and 1 theoretical distillations, and between 1 and 2 theoretical distillations. The span of flavor profiles that exist here are huge ... compared to the difference between 29 and 30 theoretical distillations, which is tiny.

    How can you achieve less than 1 theoretical distillation? While still distilling? Thumpers for example, filled with wash or low wines (tails specifically in rum), can achieve distillation profiles that are actually less pure than a single pot distillation. Yes, less pure, on purpose.

    Keep in mind, this still works like a batch still. Once loaded, it's run. Once complete, the stages are sequentially dumped downwards, and new wash added at the top, and run again.

  • edited May 11

    Coincidentally, here is our iteration. Just need to draw the HX rack.

    Not predicated upon "semi continuous" operation. Prescribed bottoms temps and deeper liquid beds ensure dwell time is long enough to flash the alcohol.

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    3 Chamber 05_10_21.jpg
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  • edited May 11

    Rear View

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    Chamber Rear 5_10_21.jpg
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  • This one here is not a 3 chamber in the purest, traditional sense. There are external downcomers installed at a max liquid level height that allow for incremental draining once max level is achieved.

    The operating principle is so much easier than what would typically be used for the design the Leopold outfit used.

    Sure could automate the draining by using a king gauge (or the like). But why add complexity that doesn't need to be?

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  • A while ago I talked to Smaug about trying to mimic a 3 chamber still with his double retort still. (If you remember that.) So I wonder if you could also mimic the double retort with the 3 chamber still? Think of running a rum or brandy through there. I wonder how it might taste. You're going to blast the upper chambers with the deep tails of the lower ones. Could be a way to subtlety and more reliably mimic the high ester rum processes. Since you are working with pressure now how much difference would elevation make? He's in Denver - the boiling point there is 203f/95c. Would someone at sea level see a different character to their product?

    So how can we make this a more automated process? How would you run it? I think Todd said he did 90 minutes per chamber. What metrics would you use to consider each chamber pass to be done? Temp? ABV of the output?

    @Smaug said: Not predicated upon "semi continuous" operation. Prescribed bottoms temps and deeper liquid beds ensure dwell time is long enough to flash the alcohol.

    Would it be just about the maxing alcohol yield or would you think about going further into the tails?

  • There is an old chamber still running in the islands, it wasn't just the Northeast Rye distillers that used them.

  • edited May 11

    Christian, this design is predicated upon the smaller Humper Thumper process. The only automation needed is a target temp (either for bottoms or for low wines vapor) to drive the beer feed rate.

    With respect to going into tails, the deeper liquid beds will create more dwell time and that should create some good "stewing".

    However, tails on a continuous are so much different compared to tails on a batch rig. Not even close to batch tails funk.

    Yeah basically temps right. Shooting for 93C to 97C at the thumper head, and 100C or better on the bottom chamber.

    On this design the operator also has a choice of pulling product from one (or both) of two plates in order to find the best product closest to barrel strength.

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  • edited May 11

    @grim said: There is an old chamber still running in the islands, it wasn't just the Northeast Rye distillers that used them.

    Whose running that ? Ah, in Barbados I see.

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  • edited May 11

    Yep just read that.

    This is not that still beyond the deep liquid beds.

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  • So I guess from a practical stand point what would this still get you that you couldn't get elsewhere - most likely at a lower cost? I know I get caught up in "what's the craziest thing I can build" but what does it do better than others? Flavor? Low cost cost of production? Throughput? Efficiency? I'm assuming it's flavor, but would it cost to run over a standard batch still? I mean besides the metric crapton of copper it would take to build it...

    @Smaug said:

    With respect to going into tails, the deeper liquid beds will create more dwell time and that should create some good "stewing". However, tails on a continuous are so much different compared to tails on a batch rig. Not even close to batch tails funk.

    Would the tails here be more like a batch process or a column? Or some weird hybrid of the two?

  • edited May 11

    Well with the deeper liquid beds you would definitely get more flavor as it's just so much closer to an actual 3 chamber. Think inline continuous thumpers right?

    The dwell time in conjunction with a thumper that has the ability to gravity feed back to the top chamber (as apposed to the preheater used to condense low wines and re heat in the reboiler) eliminates the extra pre heater and bottoms reboiler pump. So there is that cost savings. Some of which is mitigated by the cost of the platform. However, gravity feeding (mass transfer) spirit bottoms back to the top chamber without the use of a pump is definitely one less thing to break long term wise.

    And of course there is the old timey drama of the appearance.

    I haven't priced it yet but no doubt with all the copper it'll be spendy.

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  • @grim said: It exists in a world of purposefully less efficient stills, similar to Jamaican double retort stills.

    How can you achieve less than 1 theoretical distillation? While still distilling? Thumpers for example, filled with wash or low wines (tails specifically in rum), can achieve distillation profiles that are actually less pure than a single pot distillation. Yes, less pure, on purpose.

    Yeah this is interesting. I don't really hear about anyone pushing boundries like this. Maybe because most of them are so small that unless you directly know them there's no good conduit for hearing about them. Or it's a "secret". We as an industry should be way more open about stuff. The more we learn together the better off we all are.

  • edited May 12

    You can explore this process if you have two thumpers, or even three thumpers if you want to load the still with water to simulate the steam injection. Sure, the workflow would suck, but there is no reason you can't try this out on a small scale. Suppose you can add the 4th thumper to simulate the doubler as well?

  • edited May 12

    @SingleMaltYinzer said: Yeah this is interesting.

    Once you've distilled pot and plate, and even lots of plates, you look at a Lyne arm pot still and laugh a bit, recognizing at first that there is no way Lyne arm geometry can make a damn's worth of difference in the distillate.

    BUT

    When you think about Lyne arms existing between 1 theoretical distillation and 2 theoretical distillations, things change a bit.

    Imagine for a second, that an upward sloped Lyne might represent 1.2 distillations, while a downward sloped line might represent 1.1 distillations. The difference between 1.1 and 1.2 distillations is actually relatively significant, even if the numbers appear somewhat close. Grim's Rule says - the difference between theoretical distillations diminishes as the number of distillations increase. The difference between 3 and 4 plates is huge compared to the difference between 7 and 8 plates, which is smaller.

    Now go backwards. What's the difference between 1 theoretical distillation and 0.9 theoretical distillations? Enormous again - this is what's happening here. The world of 0-1-2 theoretical distillations is a football field of flavor differences.

    So going back to old pot stills, this begins to provide an plausible explanation for why old pot Stillers (and scotch Stillers) were so obsessive about pot still geometry, because it does make a difference.

  • I need way more thumpers...

  • This thread brings back fond memories of the discussions of the past.... :-) you know, before I had to make product every day...

    anyway, what is the flow in that setup? is green beer feed and the dark purple the bottoms?

  • There are some good old Seagrams internal papers that describe the operation of the still - it runs in something like 20 minute batches, with cuts being made on each timed run. It seems like an absolute disaster from an operating workflow perspective.

    Could you run it continuous? Sure, I don't see why not - not sure why they didn't in the past, other than the fact that the stages actually had no downcomers, and it was manual valves that drained each stage downward.

  • This reminds me of the discussion about " deep Bed" bubble caps that were found in an old still from the turn of the century which were bubble caps about a foot high, one to a large say 3 foot wide still and three chambers high. I guess the same theory ie allowing to go deep into the tails and letting the flavors compress at each level.

  • @CothermanDistilling, Green represents beer feed, Light purple represents product, dark purple represents beer bottoms waste. Processing speed is untested but based on some napkin math it should be on par with the same heat input as the 12" / 10 plate stripper. Though it'll take a bit more time to bring the above system on line. The 3 chambers combined hold about 300 liters and the spirit side (Thumper) of the system holds 150 liters.

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  • edited May 12

    @DonMateo, yessir. These bubble caps and stand pipes are 18" (457 mm). I drew the bubble caps as 3" x 3" square tubing because that's how I made my personal system. But in reality 3" copper tubing is likely an easier sourcing project than 3" square copper tubing.

    The stand pipes are 2" copper tube and there are 5 per plate.

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  • So let's change the discussion a bit. It seems the point of this system is to maximize the tails (and beyond) contact with alcohol to produce flavor. How else can that be done? I think most other systems out there seems to try to maximize the separation of the fractions.

  • @smaug. Are you building this system or just designing it? You know I think you guys here are just amazing. A foto is all you need and you produce a working still design. I am wish I could buy gear from you guys. Its tough being an illegal immigrant in the middle of a pandemic is not cool. Cant import shit. I am still intrigued by the mondo bubble caps. They look really freaking cool.

  • @SingleMaltYinzer , the thing is that "tails" off of a batch system is really nothing like "tails" on the continuous. So I'm not even sure I would use the tails word at all because it creates an illicit image of bad, funky likker.

    But there are a bunch of ways to intensify flavor. Prolonged periods of 100% reflux for example in order to promote an oxidative (is that a word?) environment. Another off shoot would be the notion of promoting a mailard reaction. Grim has talked about this stuff extensively here and about.

    Perhaps he can provide a freshen up as soon as he finishes "swabbing" the deck lol..

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  • @DonMateo , we are designing for the future. We now have (only) 5 continuous systems in service and have provided an additional array of parts and consultation to a few customers.

    We plan on bringing a smallish 4" continuous system to the tradeshows this season. This exposure means that someone, somewhere will attempt to replicate this design that we now have in place. We have seen this trend many (many) times before with our bubble cap assemblies, the gin baskets, etc.

    Its a known concept that we want to put our own unique spin on.

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  • @Smaug said: CothermanDistilling, Green represents beer feed, Light purple represents product, dark purple represents beer bottoms waste. Processing speed is untested but based on some napkin math it should be on par with the same heat input as the 12" / 10 plate stripper. Though it'll take a bit more time to bring the above system on line. The 3 chambers combined hold about 300 liters and the spirit side (Thumper) of the system holds 150 liters.

    OK, I think I got it, you just keep the bottom chamber at a temp that means 90% or whatever of the alcohol is gone before the waste stream takes it... like that one in the linked video in bermuda was filled with water to start... very cool... would trade grunt work for a chance to see it operate for a day when-ever/where-ever it is installed!

  • Yessir @CothermanDistilling.

    As long as the bottom chamber is at the optimal temp that ensures all the alcohol is flashed, the bottoms discharge won't be sending alcohol down the drain. Some systems govern the feed rate based on that stripper bottoms temp. However, Adam's (our) design is predicated upon beer column head temps to govern feed rate, and as long as those head temps are 91C or better, then the beer column bottoms is plenty hot.

    But on this design, because of the much larger mass in the beer column, I'll need to consult with Adam if driving the still by way of bottoms temps is best? But to be safe, when we set up the PLC for this (above) design it may be best to have the option of using either the beer bottoms temp or the head space within the thumper to govern the beer feed rate.

    At the moment Adam sets the beer column head temp (97C) to drive the feed rate and matches the thumper head space temps to match that temp. This allows him to keep his proof where he wants it. The thumper sits on the ground so it does need to be pumped down once or twice per shift. On the design above, the thumper has the ability to send thumper juice back to the beer column via gravity at a much more measured (continuous) return to the beer column. As long as the thumper temp is set to 97C, the returning juice will have plenty of heat so that returning juice won't be disruptive because of excessive heat loss.

    Summary: Temps within the head space of the thumper will drive the beer feed pump. Or bottoms temps will drive the beer feed pump. We are not sure what kind of pump lag (PID loop tuning) using thumper temps will create because the the much larger mass that needs to brought and held to temp,,,,if that makes sense?

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  • edited May 13

    Little known fact, when you run that deep bed still, and put your ear close to the column, listen really hard, you can hear it playing House of Pain - Jump Around

  • @grim said: Little known fact, when you run that deep bed still, and put your ear close to the column, listen really hard, you can hear it playing House of Pain - Jump Around

    Sure. But to get the lyrics tuned in so that they are audible enough to get past that shrieking bit every 2 seconds, you have to have very (very) precise heat input control.......

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  • I found a drawing of a three chamber whiskey still with the deep bed bubble caps by Irving Hirsh is his book Manufacture of WHiskey Brandy and Cordials. Page 55 which has the thumper. I would imagine that is not a coincidence. Cheers

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