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Author Topic: Distillation of spirits  (Read 1325 times)
MR GUS
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« on: August 30, 2017, 10:29:49 AM »

Any distillers in the forum?

I'm looking for some detail about an alembic still (by still spirits) as to whether it is worth considering, looks very much like a burco boiler to me. (the uneducated).
& bearing in mind what it looks like, how efficient is it to run a batch? (energy used)
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todthedog
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« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2017, 10:58:49 AM »

Afternoon Gus.


I had a chum who used to make dreadful home made wine and then freeze it in oven trays. The water froze the hooch stayed liquid underneath. he used to do the same with home made cider.
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MR GUS
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« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2017, 01:00:45 PM »

Hi Todd, when testing speaker tech in the 90's we used the refrigeration unit to do similar (via a russian engineer on the job at the time).

I'm looking at one of the stills that are available (for personal consumption) ..what i've found thus far doesn't impress me much in terms of dual wall energy efficiency potential, ...whilst we aren't talking boiling point  (obviously) for distillation, the units are somewhat "burco" based & as far as I can tell single skin, so wasting much energy & the resulting temp fluctuation potential.

I have to do something with the fen water it's blooming well undrinkable as is.
We are talking any qty being heated for aperiod of time from 15 litres -25 litres of liquid "in" for a wash.

(& my neighbour brought me round some of the "apple pie" moonshine which is growing in popularity, I was smitten, tastes sensational, ..got me thinking, & also with a different head on it for better quality vanilla extract on a small experimental scale).
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oliver90owner
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« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2017, 07:48:29 AM »

Spirits stills don't need to worry about insulation so much - it is the product separation that is far more important/attractive. 

If simply purifying water, then economy is likely an isdue.  There is a marked difference in latent heat of evaporation and also carried out at a considerably lower temperature,  for distilling ethanol.

There are loads of home 'air condenser' water stills available (a few better than the majority offered on the net).  These are relatively safe to leave operating overnight,  on cheaper leccy, as they should switch off by a thermal trip when they are run dry.
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Westie
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« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2017, 09:06:28 AM »

I suppose a 'Food Grade' dehumidifier would be handy over the winter months - water to drink and a nice dry home.....

If taste is the issue with your water supply have you considered a reverse osmosis filter?

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MR GUS
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« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2017, 02:10:34 PM »

Thanks chaps, the point i'm trying to make is that the energy used  with a single wall is wasteful & uses more than necessary, as is the way of uninsulated lofts et al.

So just like the instantpot I recently bought which whilst not insulated is double wall & efficient in terms of heat retention / energy expenditure which is what i'd like to achieve with any new product, considering we'd be heating largish amounts of water to varying degrees using more energy not less (costing more not less per cycle).

If it makes sense to insulate the heck out of a HW tank then after doing so why would we ignore another unit that is intended to do pretty much the same (& potentially to higher temps than your domestic requirements).

Another thought is that when folks are more load balanced (batteries in homes being commonplace not the exception) we need to be more demanding of general efficiency of what we buy in.

Westie: I live in hard water hell of the fens, the water is not swamplike (florida tap water) but not the greatest if you were to be wishing to make a decent batch of spirits, ...then I'd likely be forced to buy large plastic containers of spring water & all the wrappings that go's with it   Cry

Oliver90 ..we aren't on anything but a standard tariff currently, (not to say we wont be, or that everyone will be forced to by *cough* "surge pricing"  ..so looking to simpy run to max efficiency in term of heating cycles at any temp.
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Screw FITS ..it is, & always has been about the environment (said the penny-pinching Scotsman)
pdf27
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« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2017, 02:48:37 PM »

Is this purely for personal consumption, or are you planning to go down the licensing route and sell it in future? If you're only drinking it yourself then the actual volume you need to produce per day is pretty modest and the corresponding gains from insulation correspondingly so.

Remember that the vast majority of the power used is to boil off the ethanol & water mix, which is then condensed again - so the overwhelming majority of power used will go as latent heat when the mixture is condensing, and you obviously can't insulate this or it will just boil off to atmosphere. Sure you could insulate the boiler section, but the gains will be really rather modest and mostly come in the form of safer surface temperatures than anything else: you've got an area of what, 0.1m2 at most heated to 50 deg C above ambient for an hour or two in order to produce a couple of bottles of spirits. That means you're maybe saving 1kWh/year by insulating the surfaces - at the cost of making the still more expensive and harder to clean. If you want to improve matters you really need to work on some sort of heat exchanger/heat pump for the condenser section to use the latent heat somewhere else, and that's both technically complex and expensive. The best option is probably just to do your distilling in cold weather when you can recover the waste heat as additional heating, and not worry too much about it.
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MR GUS
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« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2017, 09:17:47 PM »

I get it PDF (& thanks indeed for the thorough explanation).

Yes indeed under the personal consumption license.

The unit i'm looking at  is likely a T500 but with an alembic on it.
25 litre boiler with 2kw integrated element.


In terms of insulation I was contemplating a foam layer (thermoform mould) that pulls & latches on itself which can simply be removed like body armour (following the principle of the lid latch) for easy as before cleaning.
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Austroflamm stove & lot's of Lowe alpine fleeces, A "finger" of Solar Sad
Noli Timere Messorem
Screw FITS ..it is, & always has been about the environment (said the penny-pinching Scotsman)
Philip R
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« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2017, 10:06:12 PM »

How about a gas heated burco, few going on ebay at the moment. Do you have cheapish natural gas where you live?

I did not realise that the fenlanders are a bunch of rednecks

Philip R
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Philip R
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« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2017, 10:15:49 PM »

A while back, one of my work colleagues was a gamer with a clocked computer. His processor was cooled with a water cooled heatsink with a fan coil, all neatly packaged to fit into his machine. If you are keen to recover this latent heat for space heating, used a long length of tube. Not sure what best to use. Copper surely would taint the product if fruity, die to acid carryover. Plastics,hard to clean and a lousy conductor of heat. Stainless steel, well. domestic hot water from a stainless steel hot water tank has a different smell from that from a copper tank, stainless can taint also.( Probably better than copper regards ion dissolution into the fluid).

Agree with PDFs take on it. If a licensed still, spent the money and recover the heat and use a cheaper heatsource, If for own use, shrug you shoulders and carry on, not sufficient return on investment.

Philip R

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MR GUS
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« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2017, 01:10:14 AM »

Red cheeked from hard winds maybe.
Stainless steel strips flavours = neutral spirit
Copper increases flavours.

At least that's the theory

Gas,  no, just electricity & wood
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Austroflamm stove & lot's of Lowe alpine fleeces, A "finger" of Solar Sad
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Screw FITS ..it is, & always has been about the environment (said the penny-pinching Scotsman)
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« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2017, 06:27:49 AM »

The mobile stills that toured Brittany were all copper and no insulation. They also always chucked away the first bit of the distillation as the man told me that it was pure poison, he said that in Marseille (where it is well known​ that everyone is unscrupulous in the persuit of money, unlike honest hard working Bretons) there were several instances of blindness resulting from failing to do this!!
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MR GUS
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« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2017, 10:52:14 AM »

 yup, there will always be some sadly, the point is to make good drink not harm, & merely drinking sadly affects some like that, let alone being poured poison in a bottle.

Head, heart, tails (depending on what you are producing)

Whilst on the subject (I like flavour as much as anything) If anyone has a pear drop fetish (I do) the Koppaberg pear is incredible, & the non alcoholic version is also a joy to behold at 1/2 the price.

I'm holding off on buying any kit until someone somewhere can clarify the "new position" by HMRC which removes the stumbling blocks from the existing ridiculous "discretionary" rules that really aren't, (& aren't likely to be easily found / verified because its all tied into taxation).

Big difference between something being legal to buy but not to use, so may pin hopes on a grainfather instead & brew beer in the knowledge that it can be converted should the law become clearer as to home production & consumption of spirits, ..too much uncertainty until its in the bag via the government.

NB the "moonshine" given to me was some purchased by neighbour on amazon, nothing dodgy just to be clear, ..but oh the flavour!  Grin
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 05:03:46 PM by MR GUS » Logged

Austroflamm stove & lot's of Lowe alpine fleeces, A "finger" of Solar Sad
Noli Timere Messorem
Screw FITS ..it is, & always has been about the environment (said the penny-pinching Scotsman)
DaveF
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« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2017, 01:58:01 PM »

Just my 2p worth Mr Gus-I presume that due to the relatively small volumes of fluid being distilled and the frequency of use that the enviromental cost of adding a second skin of metal or insulation might out weigh any energy savings made through the use of more raw materials.

Would a homemade jacket out of old duvets be a possibility? or just a fire hazard?

Kind Regards,

DaveF
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MR GUS
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« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2017, 09:02:14 PM »

The ones that the wife eventually insisted weren't going in the loft & she binned them on the quiet!? ...damn.

I'm hoping that the silly 18 hectolitre bias is soon uravelled & change happens, in the meantime I'm thinking the Grainfather which is good for beer & can be re-modelled for an alembic IF / when things change... (twiddles thumbs)

If it was a beer based system I imagine it operating a couple of times a week as folk are interested local to me as to "borrowing it" in situ. ..which might make for a big difference in savings, ..but yeah that should work, cant be any worse than an old bee-keeping neighbour who used to strain his honey through his dead wifes old tights  Grin

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Austroflamm stove & lot's of Lowe alpine fleeces, A "finger" of Solar Sad
Noli Timere Messorem
Screw FITS ..it is, & always has been about the environment (said the penny-pinching Scotsman)
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