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Abbott's Steam Stripper



  • Alright, I've got almost all of the parts in for the stripper under vacuum. In the mean time I did some numbers of vacuum vs non. It takes 2.54 times the amount of time/energy to change the temperature under normal atmospheric pressure than it would be to do the same under 22 inches of mercury vacuum. Theoretically, I should be able to run that much more product through the still in any given time. So lets take one of my 500 gallon fermenters. Running strip runs through my 500 Liter still would take me about 1200 minutes(20hrs) of running 80 amps(a vague guess on time). Running strip runs through my previous continuous still setup would take 1067(17.78hrs) minutes of running 20 amps. A huge gain in the amount of power required, although still too long. I was averaging 20 gallons per hour with this setup. With the new setup I should be able to run the 500 gallons in 588 minutes(9.8hrs) running maybe 22 amps, gotta add the vacuum pump and additional peristaltic pump. To answer some questions regarding the pump setup, I have two peristaltic pumps, both running dual heads. I have it set up so that everything that is put into the still is taken out. Basically the pump that adds wash(pump 1) removes spent wash. The peristaltic pump that removes spirit(pump 2) also recirculates spent wash so that the spent wash that pump 1 removes compensates for the spirit removed from pump 2. If you think about it for a bit, it makes complete sense. It will most definitely require tweaking in regards to the spirit removed, although I can easily dial all of that in with the given pumps that I have for the project. I will not be using steam on this due to the added pressure and overworking my vacuum pump. I should have this thing running by next week, although my marriage next week will delay till the following week. I will keep you all updated.

  • Sounds like an awesome plan Abbot, and congrats on the marriage! I for one think that vacuum stripping is a perfect solution for the craft distiller because in theory you are reducing energy input while retaining aroma/flavor for the spirit run. Based on what your steam stripper design has encouraged, I can't wait to see where this leads.

  • I'm looking forward to the trials, of the stripper not the marriage. :D


    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Congratulations on the upcoming nuptials, can't wait to see how this stripper works

  • Ah congrats indeed. Best wishes for you and your new missus.

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @tellride is your wash on the grain or cleared?

  • @CothermanDistilling said: sweet..

    Cotherman, check your messages!

  • @jbierling i have not tried any of this grain in, i would assume a hammer mill would need to be used for grain in. I am debating using 6kw in band heaters, my only hesitation is the loss in heat

  • edited April 2015

    Attached the steam generator to my ex-milk tank/mash tun cooling jacket, it was a process getting all of the fittings correct. The spent steam just goes into a bucket of water. Also just about finished the vacuum continuous still. I did switch to band heaters. There is 6kw in band heaters on the lower part of he column, as well as a 600 watt preheater band heater on the last heat exchanger. When the last couple parts show up(which was suppose to be today) I will run this thing. Also how beautiful is that new 2000 liter fermenter. Stoked on that, we upgraded from 3 x 1000 liter fermenters to 4 x 2000 liter fermenters. The hope is I can run 1 x 2000 liter fermenter in less than 10 hours.




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  • edited April 2015

    Getting 20"hg no problem, ethanol should be boiling off at 50C.


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  • edited April 2015

    Nice job on the vacuum - the peristaltics runing ok under vac? What tubing did you end up with?

  • I'm definitely interested in this discussion.

    Being a continuous system how are you continuously draining the bottoms while under vacuum?

    I'd love to see a schematic or P&ID. It's difficult to see what's going on with just pictures.

    Do you feed your wash (with solids) to this unit, or is this for finishing up the low wines?

  • edited April 2015

    @Telluride I have so many questions. How and where do you pull vacuum on the system without pulling out vapors? The only way I could think it would work would be to pull the vacuum after the total condenser where the product is collected (or temporarily collected).

    Since you're continuously adding liquid to the system you must continually run the vacuum pump to remove the added volume. Do you just use a needle valve or similar to keep the vacuum pressure constant? I assume you just use a small rotary vane similar to THIS. OR do you use something even smaller.

  • So what size boiler should I use?


  • edited April 2015

    FYI I have cleaned-up the OT discussion about our Pro Corner and moved all OT comments to an already existing discussion about that same topic in our Member's Area. No comments have been deleted.

    In case of safety concerns about the content of this discussion:



    Please always keep the possible risks in mind when dealing with such a project, which makes me quote our disclaimer from our Terms of Service once again:

    DISCLAIMER: Any advice given here reflects the personal opinion of individual forum members, which may not necessarily be correct and is meant to be addressed to someone who exactly knows and understands how to perform the necessary tasks. If in any doubt please seek help from a professional. Neither the StillDragon® Community nor the StillDragon® Organization or their individual members can be held responsible in case you encounter problems, damages or injuries when following any given instructions.

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  • @Telluride Any updates on your vacuum column? How has it been working out for you?

  • edited May 2015

    It works great, haven't had any issues, to answer earlier questions:

    I feed fermented wash into the system, I don't do any products with grain, so I have nothing to say regarding grain in or not.

    The vacuum is pulled after the condensers, I have a 2" sight glass as a vapor lock so that no vapors can go into the vacuum, though this isn't as issue as my vacuum is a double diaphragm styled vacuum pump, it is made by gast.

    Anything going in and out of the still, including low wines, are done so via peristaltic pumps.

    My total vacuum is 19 inches of mercury, the column temp is about 123 degrees, the low wines abv is dependent upon the abv of the input wash.

    I am running almost exactly 2.54x the amount of fermented wash through this as previously calculated/predicted.

    You can taste a difference in the low wines when stripped at a lower temperature, the band heaters also helps as there is more surface area for the wash to come in contact with.

    Vacuum stills can be dangerous in the wrong hands. I however will not be changing this set up, I think it works perfect for what I am trying to accomplish.

    All that being said, I am unsure if I will be posting the finished plans, many people can figure out what is going on from the pictures. If you want to come see the thing in action and get a better idea, come take a vacation to Telluride.

  • Thanks mate, the input is great and i love the way people share ideas and developments here. You've done well.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • Thanks @punkin couldn't have done anything at my distillery without StillDragon.

  • I guess I wasn't done with the design. I just rigged this up so that I can run it without vacuum. The reason to do that is I don't want to run the vacuum while I am not around, if the vacuum fails or the added 3 mandatory pumps/tubing fails, I will be out of a lot of product. I trusted this set up before the vacuum overnight, so I figured why not convert it so I can run it overnight. Basically when I am here working it will be run under vacuum, when I leave for the evening I will run it under normal conditions.

  • Does not compute - you allow this to run unattended?

  • Most continuous stills are run unattended, pre vacuum I ran it overnight constantly, I know that probably concerns a bit with the recent events, but lets not be blind, theres no open flame on this

  • Well, there is a difference here...for me anyway.

    The other was a purely mechanical design meant to use human attendance for proper production and safety.

    Yours is electronically monitored and designed with automatic limits, overrides and shutoff devices.

    DAD... not yours.. ah, hell... I don't know...

  • Welp, put it back to vacuum only, under no vacuum I had extreme boil over problems, under vacuum there aren't any, so instead, I decided to purchase a wifi security camera and have hooked up a Plr to the alarm function of the wifi cam. I have the plr set up so that if any situation that is out of the normal such as too much heat, too little heat, no mash, no distillate, no spent mash, too much mash(boil over), or too much distillate occur it shuts down the system automatically and alerts me on my phone. I want to run this 24-7 and over think most things....

  • Inspect your peristaltic tubing every day, replace if necessary, even proactively, every week or two if you are considering 24/7 use.

    I ran 6 Masterflex peristaltics on my big reef tank, 24/7, I would need to replace tubing about every month. If I went longer I risked the rollers breaking through and a big mess. I was running norprene tubing, which should have a very long service life, but really 600 hours or more was pushing it.

  • I am running the food grade norprene as well, I'm replacing once a week

  • edited June 2015

    So after about 5000 gallons of testing, I have found the biggest advantage to the vacuum is that it is defoaming while its distilling, I am still unsure if the lower temperature allows me to push more product through. One big observation I made was on friday, i was making some cane vodka wash for fermentation and at one point was using up most of my cold water supply, the condenser wasnt getting as much water as normal and the ambient temp inside the vacuum chamber rose. The vacuum dropped to about 15" hg, this brought my distillation temp up to about 144f, the vacuum cant pull as much hot air as it can of cool air. Thing is, the still was performing at the exact same pace as normal, there was no foaming issue and my pumps were running at the exact same speed as normal. So it got me thinking, what about putting the column back to our regular atmospheric pressure and making an inline defoaming chamber with the vacuum? I know i could deal with defoaming in the fermentation tank, however my fermentation tanks are variable capacity Letinas, and I dont think I could hook up a vacuum to this. I attached a drawing, this would setup much better for a continuous fractioning column above or off to the side, thoughts? I can't believe I thought I was done designing this thing, hahaha! Oh I also did come up with an idea to use a steam generator inline with the column, it would be directly below the column, so far the band heaters have proven sufficient.


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  • This design is based off of things I already have in the shop, otherwise I'm sure I could change a few things here and there. I think a plated column on top of the inline steam generator at the bottom would be pretty awesome.

  • edited June 2015

    Vacuum chamber worked like a charm, the column is no longer under vacuum, it is a bit slower as compared to have the column under vacuum, but works just fine, I do have another idea for steam generated, but i will look into that at another time


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  • I'm confused. What is the purpose of the vacuum chamber? Is it just to reduce foam? But then you pump it to the column. So why do you care if it foams?

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