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Questions after my Sacrificial Cleaning Run

Hello all.

I am the new proud owner of a 4" ProCap setup (6 cap sections & a 6" packed section) and after playing around with it during my sacrificial cleaning run I have a few questions about the operation of this beast.

First question is in regards to spirit run power. I believe I had read from a couple of members that 3300 watts is very common power for a spirit run but the problem I am having is that when I turned it down to that (13 amps) I have to literally cut off flow to the dephlegmator to get any product past it. Now I know that with a std pot still low and slow helps with smearing but is it the same with a ProCap system or is smearing proportional to the amount of vapor my dephlegmator allows past? In other words can I run my boiler a little faster w/o sacrificing quality as long as the product takeoff rate is still slow?

Secondly I had a problem with the lower plates falling out of equilibrium quickly once I allowed product past the dephlegmator is this the result wanting to pull product too early or is there something else at play here? I had a 10 gallon charge with 3 large bottles of crap vodka and felt that I came nowhere close to the total amount of alcohol in the boiler.

Finally initially I was running it a little hot and didn't realize that product was getting past the dephlegmator and all of a sudden product came pouring out the parrot. Turned it down to stop the flow but did manage to catch some distillate that was yellow (boiler charge completely clear) why would I have yellow distillate?

Comments

  • You don't need to do a sacrificial run. These things hark back to the fact that in the places they were (and are) recommended people generally made their own stills by soldering copper together and there were all sorts of cleaning regimes to remove the flux and all the black shit.

    With the stainless factories the main things you are trying to clean are the machining oils and the polish, plus maybe a little manufacturing residue in the places the polishers can't reach like the bend of parrots and surge breakers.

    Seems to me the best method to clean these modern parts is soapy water (lots of people use the dishwasher) often after a good wash in a water based solvent (like crappy vodka) and a rinse.

    By all means discard the first litre of the first run (it's probably heads anyway).

    As far as your run went did you work out the total alcohol content of your boiler charge?

    38 l water + 2.2l @ 40% = .88l alc

    I get .022% but maths isn't my strong point. In any case the unit is not going to behave normally with trace amounts of alcohol as it is with a proper boiler charge of between 5-40%. That's why plates are playing up etc...it's pretty much just very expensive water.

    Your last paragraph you are describing what's called a 'puke' where the liquid is building up in the still to the point that it overflows. I've never heard of someone being able to do this with Procaps before so i'd be looking at the packed section and maybe thinning it out. Some people have reported some flooding issues using our mesh filter discs for holding packing, if that's what you are using (and you're only using it for that) you may think about drilling some larger holes in the filter disc or using something coarser.

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

  • I have had a tinge of yellow in the first bits coming out of the parrot before but it always stopped by the time the fores were done. I chalked it up to the copper. Haven't seen it in a long time now that I think about it.

  • edited August 2016

    I too have a new 4 inch ProCap system. I've been hammering through all sorts for about a month now and I'm really impressed with the results.

    I have a ton of neutral then 40L of single malt scotch, 5L heavy peated single malt, 20L bourbon all sitting at 65% on oak (so Iv REALLY been quite busy this month!). Gonna run a big rye ferment this week too...

    I got a tiny big of coloured distillate when I used the packed section for the first time, I realised it was probably because I forgot to clean the packing!!! I use a ProCap plate without the caps to hold the packing in place, works great!!! I pushed it as hard as I could and it wouldn't flood even at 5kw.

    I've been running quite hard power wise with great results. First thing I discovered is my dephlegmator will not fully knock down 5kw, but will happily run in a very stable 3.5L/hour spirit run at about 4400w according to my controller. Once it's running I don't need to touch it at all till the temp suddenly starts rising for tails.

  • edited August 2016

    @mark85 said: First thing I discovered is my dephlegmator will not fully knock down 5kw

    May I ask what temperature your input cooling water is?

  • @skaal It's summer so the water here today is 19.5C. At 5kw I get about 3-4 drips per second with my dephlegmator water fully open. It's stuffed with a little steel mesh too. It must be a vapour speed thing because at 4.4kw it takes almost nothing to fully knock down.

    It's not a problem, I don't need to run it any hotter than I do anyway, I just like to know what the limits are.

    In winter when the water turns ice cold I'd expect it to be fine

  • edited August 2016

    @mark85 Thank for the data points. I'm limited to winter runs only due to the ambient temperatures here, and then the water temps of the source I use are 15 - 19 C. I was planning on throwing no more than 4.8kw at it anyway, so your data of 4.4kw is very helpful. If I do have an issue I'll have to use the larger RC, but that would require of slight modification to the ceiling, which in turn requires spouse approval...... [-X

  • @mark85 said: skaal It's summer so the water here today is 19.5C. At 5kw I get about 3-4 drips per second with my dephlegmator water fully open. It's stuffed with a little steel mesh too. It must be a vapour speed thing because at 4.4kw it takes almost nothing to fully knock down.

    that is why a lot of us (Floridians in particular) wanted bigger, badder dephlegmators...

  • Same for the reservoir guys

  • And coatings and wrapping, which will need more cooling volume and more dephleg.

  • Where I live our Summer's get quite hot (+45 degrees) so we got ourself a Super RC(300mm). That works most of the time, but a friend suggested we pull some of the stuffing (SS wool) into the tubes of our RC to increase the surface area of it. Haven't had an issue since...

  • I'm in the tropics myself and water temps are about 77-84f pretty regular so I had lots of trouble with cooling until i got a super dephleg for my 4" 7-plate column. wow, no problems now and I'm heating up with 15Kw and running with about 7-9kw. I'm now able to collect a 90-93% condensate at about 8-10L per hour depending on plate configuration. I have 3 SD procaps and 4 perf plates from Mile High. their perf plates have larger holes and a lower downcomer dam and handle the power much better and seem to recitify better compared to the stainless SD plates. I discovered proved this to myself when we had issues getting proof even on spirit runs all last 2 weeks with a mixed setup. We switched back to the old plates and made some column tweaks to adjust for lean, and today we were pulling off at 8300W, 92% (corr) and a flow of 5-6LPH on a strip.

    I'm totally sold on the procaps. they just let the power push thru and drain like they should. I can get it to flood, but only if I reflux too much and heat too much at the same time. reduce it and she just bubbles along like a money making machine.

    the best additions I made to the still that made the most difference were three major things: 1- change boiler shape to one that had more surface area exposed to create more vapor. 2- add more heat. another 4000-5000 fixed with an adjustable second element was just phenominal 3- procaps helped with bottom plate and top plate flooding 4- ULWD elements. I had one standard density element and it would create foaming due to cavitation. it was too hot and caused problems with foam. once I switched to ULWD all that went away. 5-the super reflux condensor. I recommend this to EVERYONE. worst case scenario you save on water.

    from here forward, I wanna go all procaps, add a section of copper wool, add a precooler to my product condensor, and experiment with drying over 3A Molecular seives. If I can get lab grade ethanol I can sell it for even more per liter.

    damn this is fun stuff!!

  • lol some days are better than others.

  • Let us know how your molecular sieve trials work out.

  • Anyone tried them? I've thought about treating them like a carbon filter and just run the product thru them, or maybe letting the product sit in a container of them overnight. Not sure how to approach it. there was some talk about putting them after the RC and before the PC, but I'd need a lot of them to do a single run.

    In any event they are headed to the port today, should see them in about 45 days. I'm excited.

    I was thinking about adding 3-4 more plates to the setup but going cheap and just using 100mm 4" pipe as the layer with procaps as the plates. I could pu sight windows every other layer to monitor the progress and still save a ton of money on the thing. this would also allow me to combine 3-4 sections and use copper mesh for testing if I want to.

    Man I love these modular setups!!

  • edited September 2016

    I believe the consensus is that it is uneconomical unless you are distilling near azeo, as regeneration is costly (requires energy either through heat or vacuum or both, in addition to purge gasses) - otherwise - efficiency after regeneration gets reduced (does not have an unlimited life). In addition storage is difficult because it must be stored airtight, and kept that way until used, otherwise again, efficiency reduced. Likewise, your resulting anhydrous ethanol will be attempting to grab water from the atmosphere like a rabid dog. So that brings up questions of storage in hot and humid environments - closed tanks with purge gasses.

    Careful about making claims of lab grading of chemicals unless you can back that up with batch-by-batch lab testing to prove purities.

    For making vodka? No sense in doing all that work to take out water, to just put it back in.

    For fuel? Perhaps. Would be interesting to save and redistill heads, than run through 3a - and add it to gasoline.

  • @grim said: So that brings up questions of storage in hot and humid environments

    Where I live, if you walk around with your mouth open you probably would get enough H2O from the humidity to last you all day.

  • I'm still wondering which god requires that such a precious sacrifice be made?

  • That would be the God of Suffer

  • edited September 2016

    Dionysus is usually credited in the western world as we are Greek based in our basic mythology i guess.

    But there's a fair few of the drunken cunts;

    The Gods of Alcohol @ Museum of Alcohol

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

  • I imagined the God of alcohol as having a bigger set of balls.

  • the greeks considered a small penis was a sign of a larger brain and considered superior and more refined, hence the representation. who knew?! lol

    actually Cracker, i dont have to drink much water during the day. normally less than 1 liter a day, so you're not far off!!

  • edited September 2016

    @Fiji_Spirits said: the greeks considered a small penis was a sign of a larger brain and considered superior and more refined, hence the representation. who knew?! lol

    Obviously as considered by pencil-neck geeks pencil-dick Greeks. :))

    I'm more like I am now than I was before.

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