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Multiple Columns with Drainbacks

not sure how to search if this has been done... big vodka stills like Kothe have the columns on the side, and the liquid drains back to the boiler via a slightly sloped pipe from the bottom of the columns to a point at the bottom of the vapor helmet, but above the liquid... anyone done side-by-side columns that are sequential? I was thinking 5 plates on a 380, then next to it another 5 plates with a return to the boiler.. I am not sure what I am missing about keeping the vapor from going to the 2nd column, must be a trap like a downcomer

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  • @awesome is set up to do it with his Crystal Dragon, i don't know how he's going with that though.

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

  • Just curious as to what the adv/disadv are, is it because you have a ceiling restriction therefore height is an issue?

  • edited January 2014

    Been thinking about doing that for some time..... but haven't done anything about it despite buying some 4" copper to experiment with.

    I reckon you need a dephleg on the 1st column to ensure the plates keep loaded. You're right the return to the boiler needs a s or p trap to stop vapour entering the 2nd column. VB's still on AD has both a trap & return near the bottom of the boiler below the liquid height.

  • Or run a tube down into the boiler below your liquid level with a connection on the outside of boiler! :-c

    It is what you make it!

  • My thinking has been as follows my intention is to make a 3 column 5 to 6 plate copper bubble plate Crystal dragon the 3 columns mounted on a s/s tube bench each column has its own deflag so it can be run independently or sequentially or in combination the boiler will feed into a header that feeds the columns this will allow different boilers to be able to be use or combination the return is still under consideration but my end up pumped if I can't find a easy way to configure it then I will exploit it as far as this project is going I am making the final parts of the condensers and the deflag all are made in 8" copper your thought on this project would be appreciated

  • I have seen some of these that seem to work with NO dephlegmator on the 1st column. It looks like they precharge the 1st column plates with water. Independent dephlegmators, or a dephlegmator with a split external feed to the 1st column seem more logical. I would be tempted to put a liquid splitter under the dephlegmator, with a valve controlled feed to the top of the 1st column.

  • In Kothe Vodka stills, the first column is the helmet, no dephleg, but both other columns have dephlegs at the top...

  • I was thinking of doing something similar, but with multiple side by side columns. The difference is that it starts with just 3 plates to use for flavorful distillations with and 12 more plates that can be used if running neutral spirits. Here is a picture similar to what I'm talking about except there should be valves on either side of the first tee above the left column and on either side of the tee above the dephlegmator. This would allow the ability to easily switch the plates in use. My main question is how to handle the liquid that will form at the bottom of the two tall columns. I've seen pics of stills that have no feed back to the main boiler from these columns. Will most of it be vaporized and pushed through the column or will it keep building up?

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  • @Haeber I'd bet there are drains but just not evident in the pictures.
    I'm really sure the bottoms would flood because the cold metal of the column produces lots of reflux until it gets to temperature. Each column section should have its own dephlegmator, even if its just a small one. You could use a P-trap (or "S" bend?) under the columns or pipe them to the bottom of the boiler, as long as its covered by the liquid in the boiler you wouldn't need the P-trap. Some clever guy here was using corrugated SS tubing to wind into condensers, that could be a materials option for constructing a flexible P-trap.

    Although you have drawn this modular, in reality I doubt you'd want to break it down once it is all set up. You'd need a custom heavy duty table with holes in it for the column fluid return to the boiler.
    A sight glass tower end would make a good column mount for your table.

    If the final column could dump its very high proof reflux into the bottom of the middle column that would be tons better than sending it back to the boiler to start all over again. Anywhere above the bottom plate should flash the high proof very quickly.

  • edited January 2014

    I played around with twin column configurations, but could not get a good result:

    Failed mods to the Evil Twins @ HD

    OD

  • Lloyd glad to here you chime in on this one i was thinking that a band heater could be used to help product on its way when the columns are cool this thinking came from the GB and the condensation that forms a small heater ,band ,trace wire my well fix both problems .my second question to the forum is what size should the tubing be between columns i was thinking of 3'' from the the dephlegmator the down feeder to next column 2'' at table mount as it stands i will need some 3'' valves punkin ?

  • @awesome the pipes between the columns being 2" is ideal - actually more then enough, even for 8".
    The band heater is an incredible idea! Not sure anyone has thought of it before. Its like a boiler booster. Certainly something to consider... making my head swim...

  • I'll get onto the 3" valves. Getting my next sea freight next week so it may be a way off if i don't get an express between now and the new one in June/July

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

  • @Lloyd said: Although you have drawn this modular, in reality I doubt you'd want to break it down once it is all set up. You'd need a custom heavy duty table with holes in it for the column fluid return to the boiler.

    I think that's true, but given the design and construction flexibility of the modular system it might make this worthwhile. It would be nice to be able to set up a CIP system though. 8" parts get heavy fast.

    If the final column could dump its very high proof reflux into the bottom of the middle column that would be tons better than sending it back to the boiler to start all over again.

    Have you seen any other systems that return to a column and not the boiler?

  • @jbierling said: ...Have you seen any other systems that return to a column and not the boiler?

    No, it was just me thinking out loud. Scary that is sometimes :)
    I figure after all the effort and energy to get the alcohol to the third column it's a shame to dump it back into the boiler.

  • edited January 2014

    Wouldn't be the first time SD has done something no one else has done. :)>-

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

  • True, but sometimes there are reasons for things. My question wasn't rhetorical though. Returning to the vapor path of the previous column seems intriguing.

    My thought was that if alcohol needs returning, the system was either not running up to temps or the alcohol wasn't "good" enough. Either reason I thought was reason enough to start back at Go.

    Adding additional column heating/boosters/bands and pumps to return alcohol (one system I've seen had the base of the side column below the boiler) just seems to add additional points of failure and complication.

  • this is what gave me the idea to begin with... notice the notched and reinforced rafter above the column... and that is not a short ceiling... vapor comes in from the helmet to a three way valve, and then if bypassing the first column, to a second three-way valve, and if bypassed, to the condenser.. only 2-2.5" pipe (metric, not sure) for a big column, so 2" more than enough for moving vapor around... there is a bit of an angle for the backflow to the boiler, I am sure it is a trap to perform the function of a downcomer...

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  • Awesome set up and 11 thermometers to boot! Plus I am sure there are more in the boiler and parrot.

  • Holy damn - 4 joists notched at the edge like that, can't believe you noticed that.

    This can't possibly be in the states - building inspector would condemn the place immediately. To pay that much money for equipment and then hack out the structure, mind boggling.

    Why didn't they just position the stills rotated 90 degrees out. Wow.

  • @grim said: Holy damn - 4 joists notched at the edge like that, can't believe you noticed that.

    This can't possibly be in the states - building inspector would condemn the place immediately. To pay that much money for equipment and then hack out the structure, mind boggling.

    Why didn't they just position the stills rotated 90 degrees out. Wow.

    Totally agree that is a structural failure waiting to happen. The AHJ would never let that fly in my jurisdiction.

    The joist should have been drilled and the diameter should not exceed 1/3 of the total height of the joist while the bottom plane needs to remain continuous. They just butchered that wood out of there. Sorry for sounding like a shit head but that appears to be a real hack job IMO.

    Tri-clamp pipe segments would have been the way to go for that installation.

    I can't imagine the land lord was too happy about that?...........Unless I am staring at an optical illusion?

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • daddad
    edited January 2014

    No, you've missed the point here....the still columns are supporting the floor above.

    That's what they told the inspector!

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

  • they have steel plates reinforcing and an engineer signed off on it... that is at batch 206 in Seattle, WA. I saw it when I took the week long workshop... Rusty would have more detail he actually pointed it out to us ;-)...

  • @CothermanDistilling said: they have steel plates reinforcing and an engineer signed off on it... that is at batch 206 in Seattle, WA. I saw it when I took the week long workshop... Rusty would have more detail he actually pointed it out to us ;-)...

    That would be a good fix.

    Oh dad yer such a card!

    StillDragon North America - Your StillDragon® Distributor for North America

  • @Smaug you're never going to sell that box full of roof holes.

  • He may not sell many roof holes but I'd have paid for a ceiling stretcher more than once :)

    @CothermanDistilling, there is so much to look at in that picture that it's a bit hard to take it all in.
    It appears the bottom sight glass of both columns are to monitor the returning fluid and the second column does seem to return to the base of the first column.

  • @Lloyd - yes, that is what it looks like, and to others, the bases of the two columns hold cooling water to be reused for CIP later, the base of the third is split vertically into thirds for collection. and the glass enclosed parrot is really nice and I am sure would make my fire marshal happier ;-)

    All this was greek to me when I was there, I will definitely look at it differently if I go back during ADI conference...

  • @CothermanDistilling said: ... the base of the third is split vertically into thirds for collection...

    So THAT'S why it's bigger than the other two bases! Ah ha! Dang that's clever.

    I doubt it's split in equal thirds though. The hearts compartment will be at least twice the size of the heads and tails compartments.

    I know my day is coming to have to figure out a glass enclosed parrot but I have successfully put that off for a long time... hoping to continue for some time more.

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