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Abbott's Steam Stripper



  • I've done some more calcs today:

    This first one is to determine the column diameter based upon the desired run volume, run time and beer %abv.


    This second one looks at the steam generator as I've drawn it to see what potential output you could get from a small capacity unit operating a single 3.6kW 240V/15A element:


    This unit should strip just over 200L of 6% beer in 6hours if my estimates are correct. Note the actual performance will be a little less as I've not shown the heat recovery, water top-up or system loss calcs.

    So, with respect to a suitable stripping column size to match a 3.6kW steam generator the answer comes out at around a 2" diameter column.

    Therefore to handle the volumes (1,950L) and times (6hrs) through a 6" column as outlined in the above calculations I'd need a steam generator roughly 9 times the size of my drawing; ie 32kW and 44L of water capacity.

    Here's the calcs for the 32kW 45L version:


    Cheers for now,


    800 x 498 - 68K
    566 x 459 - 17K
    561 x 457 - 17K
  • Until I did this exercise I thought I could pull this off with a couple of heating elements and some duct tape so to speak.

    I now know the power requirements are far in excess of my wishful dreaming, it pays to do the sums.

    A steam boiler is a relatively small cost at the size I'm looking at, at least now I can tell a manufacturer what size I'm looking for.

    All that aside I'm still keen to build a fully functional small scale prototype, likely in 4". I want to nut this control logic out.

    My thinking is:

    1. To run the steam generator at a constant
    2. To use the beer feed rate as the controller
    3. To use the column top temperature as the control variable

    Spent pot ale is a key variable as well but I will adjust that by raising or lowering the entry point of the beer into the column, once the ideal location is found it won't be touched.

    Condensate abv is also another key variable but I will "control" that but adjusting the height of the column, once the ideal height is found it won't be touched.



  • edited January 2015

    Sorry for the newb question, but could someone give a quick overview of what the parts are in @TheMechWarrior diagram? Not details (yet) but zones perhaps? I am very interested in this idea/approach, but can't quite figure out what the functions of the various areas are. For example, does the warm wash actually come in at the top of the column? Does the steam pressure drive the spent mash out of the reboiler?

    Particularly confusing is what is happening at the bottom of the column in regards to steam and mash paths.

    One questions is, why go through this whole thing with steam when you could just have a 5L bain marie still pot at the bottom that has elements in oil, etc and not worry about the water level/pressure thing at all? Crack the bottom drain so that there is a constant in flow and out flow of mash.

    Perhaps I am totally off. Tips in the right direction are appreciated ;)

  • I think the steam stripper is a great idea, since I just finished my steam generator, no need for the massive stripper still. Would my steam dragon generate enough steam to power a 4" Coffey style column?

  • How much power do you have? How many plates do you have? What throughput rate do you want to achieve?

    For 4" I'll be going 10.8kW, Telluride was running at 5.5kW on his 4" so you can see there's a wide spectrum of power options available.

  • I also run 5.5kw, max number of plates is six

  • Looks like you better start a build thread for that 4" Coffey still" project bachman ;)

  • I would love to run on steam but I suspect I would generate it from gas. I just don't have a suitable electricity supply and it is expensive to put in a new supply.

  • @Myles the mechanism for delivering energy to the water won't impact on the overall design to a great extent. I suggest we start a continous stripping thread and dedicate all the non "Abbots Steam Stripper" comments that new thread, we've already highjacked this thread enough ;) - thanks mods.

  • First - My great appreciation to Abbott & MechWarrior for sharing.

    Mech' I think there are a few minor errors in your calculations, and one significant one. Second sheet should be labelled "kg of steam / liter of product". Third sheet, "18 lb/lb-mol" equals "18 kg/kg-mol". [and WOW I hate BTUs and "lbs of steam" units].

    The calculation of 111 lb of steam/hr (31.5kW) appears to only cover the power lost in the stillage("bottoms"). The tops/distillate will cost you another 5kW by my calculation, but this assumes pure ethanol extraction. I expect you'll get 50-60%ABV from the stripper, which means far more energy out the top as water vapor. At 55%ABV you should get ~15kW out the top feed and ~30kW out the bottom, ~45kW total [assumes feed=325l/hr, 6%ABV beer @ 20C, 1.34atm, 55%ABV product].

    Assuming that you inject steam w/ an 80% efficient boiler and modest losses, 5500w should get you around 30 liter/hour through the stripper, using above assumptions, and no heat recovery.

  • Thanks for the input stevea, would be happy to pm calcs and proofs etc. No need to clog up the thread.

    Happy to have you on board!



  • @TheMechWarrior I just dropped off some heads to a dispensary, they use this for an alcohol reduction in their hash oil, and got to get a good look at their vacuum still, then i looked through this thread and checked out that alfa laval link you shared in the beginning, the alfa laval is basically a continuous vacuum still, im going to look into that link in more depth later but if we were able to incorporate a vacuum into the setup it would drastically decrease the energy/heat needed, i have a vacuum and chamber that i use on my bottling line already that i can borrow to see if it is a possibility, if it does i could certainly get a much larger chamber and vacuum for collection, what are your thoughts?

  • I've used vacuum in evaporators in several applications in the past.

    In this instance you need more reason than energy to implement the idea. The energy effort and extra complexity required to drop the booking point is just not cost effective.

    If you need to drop the boiling point to reduce the impacts of thermal degradation on a sensitive product then you do it. An example is cream, you want to remove the seasonal volatiles such as flavour taints from turnips fed to cows but you don't want the cream to carry over any cooked flavours.

    I can see a vacuum beer stripper being very useful under specific applications but not for all.

  • Im limited to 150 amps at the moment, for me, this could be very useful

  • edited January 2015

    Vacuum still will require colder condenser coolant. This probably means that the beer feed will be insufficient as condenser coolant/preheat. You'll need to consider the loss of efficiency due to losing the heat recovery aspect. No matter what you are going to lose the delta-t from a near room temperature beer. You may find that you need to shift the energy requirement from the heating side to the cooling side to work appropriately, no free lunch.

    The other challenge is the receiving vessel. You are going to be somewhat limited in size here, since as you get larger, the construction of the receiver is going to need to be substantial to withstand the partial vacuum. This sort of negates the continuous aspect, since you'll need a batch receiver.

  • 3 peristaltic pumps, one that feeds in the beer, one that pushes the mash out and one that pushes the low wines into a larger vessel from the vacuum chamber. The pumps I use are easily dialed to whatever speed I desire, so the low wine and mash discharge pumps can be set to the fractions of what the mash in is set at. IE mash in in 1gpm, mash out .8gpm, low wine out .2gpm. Peristaltic pumps would generally be unaffected by the vacuum, they are by nature a one way valved pump. The vacuum is also unaffected in the chamber as everything that enters the still/column/vacuum chamber is removed. I already have a condenser on my setup for cold water to knock down any additional vapors, the speed at which I am running currently is not enough to knock down everything with just the room temp mash, it simply acts as an additional heat exchanger. My water in the mountains up here is 44 f year round, we have snow in places on our mountains year round, knock down power is the least of my concerns. The water also costs me nothing. I am in Spain/Andorra/France on business for the next 3 weeks so I won't be trying this until I get back. The engineering firm that I go to with all these crazy ideas thinks this should increase output by 3 to 4 times under the same power. And please remember, I am the only one here that has a working continuous stripping still, this is my design being tweaked. Keep it coming though, I would like to hear some other reasons not to try this....

  • edited January 2015

    Are you thinking you can drain the receiver with a peristaltic against a partial vacuum? My guess is that the peristaltic tubing in the head will be completely collapsed by the vacuum. Every peristaltic I've seen has had at the least a very small section of tubing between the input fitting and the first roller. This section will absolutely collapse under vacuum.

  • Depends on which type of tubing you use, cole parmer offers 100s of types of tubing. I also use a vacuum on my custom bottle filler, which has some unbraided tubing that is softer and never collapses, I would also be under less vacuum than what i have on my bottle filler, that is around 30hg to be able to pull the spirits through my series of 4 different filters, this would be set to around 22hg, keep it coming guys, what other potential issues may arise???

  • edited January 2015

    You are pulling a 30" hg. vacuum on your filler? Or are you talking torr? Either way that's serious vacuum. On a nice and hot day your bottling line is a vacuum distillation setup.

  • When i get backed up on t corks it'll just sit there in vacuum, its a 12 cfm pump

  • FYI: Here's a link to an operating beer stripping column made by pintoshine:

    I don't think there's any heat recovery systems being used and I couldn't find a build-thread covering this project either.

    I just thought the numbers were very interesting!

    I'll see if I can get in touch with him tonight for some additional details.

    PS: I did find this comment @ AD regarding an 8" 14 plate stripper.

    I punched these numbers in to my calcs and got roughly the same as he's reported, not spot on but close enough to give me the courage to build it.



  • @grim the rated vacuum on the tubing that I currently use is 26 " Hg, which is beyond what I am looking to do at 22 " Hg so that I can bring the boiling temp down to 125 degrees F. @TheMechWarrior thanks for posting that link, based on the video it looks very similar to what I am wanting to accomplish. Anyone else have some concerns of problems that I may run into? @stevea thought there may be some problems with some relative volatile congeners, but these should be removed during the spirit distillation.

  • edited January 2015

    Anyone have any input as to how one of these steam generators would work for inline/instant water heating?

    I am getting ready to start another over engineered brewstand for producing beer and washes and had previously thought of using a rims tube with an element capable of both 110 and 220 voltage for dual use as a mash and water heater respectively, but it seems like steam would probably be more responsive?

    I have a spare stainless counterflow chiller such as the one here that might work well, but open to design considerations. My main goal here would be to try and take 25c water in to 70c at a flow rate of about .5-1gpm for sparging and pre-heating mash water.

  • @brewsmith, I'd suggest you start a thread on that and we'll cover the specifics there. In short "Instant" high temperature hot water systems like you describe are readily available.

    Yes you could build one but like I said a new thread is the best place to discuss this and all your other options. Abbott's Steam Stripper thread must be about due for a relevant update :) nudge nudge



  • Ordered 2 x magflow pumps for the steam stripper. Now to order 2 x flow meters etc and start a new build thread.

  • Is there any way to know what kind of flow you would need with a perilstatic pump? Or is it a trial and error process. I found one that has a max flow of 160ml/minute

  • I ordered magnetic drive pumps as it's cheaper and I'll control the flow by varying the power. I hope that works.

    As for knowing the required feed rate that is determined by your heat.

    I'll post a table for you today.

  • I am going to use my steam generator, based on telluride's design, 1.5 gallon water capacity and 5500 watt.

  • OK, well I believe Telluride stated his throughput capacity was ~3,000L/24hrs.

  • Your steam generator will be evaporating at ~145mL/min give or take. And your beer feed rate will be roughly 940mL/min.

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