Condenser Controlled Columns

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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby javaman1966 » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:47 pm

found some 48 inch dryer gas line at homedepot and it looks like it will work
getting close to finnishing went for this style with 2 inch copper, wondering colum height
have 48 inch piece or can cut smaller(packed with copper mesh), to 2 inch T, 12 inches above T 2inch with 48inch csst coil in it
and off T 1 inch piece of 2 inch then 2 inch elbow into 24 inch shotgun got 1/2 in and out with 4 (1/2) pipes inside
question where would temp probe go on this design bottom of T between lowest csst coil goes but above the packing
hope to have some pics up this weekend

thanks for the design dad and thanks for the help
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby DAD300 » Wed Nov 04, 2015 10:33 am

Make column as tall as your space/ceiling can allow. You must also reach top to adjust reflux coil.

The only place a thermometer is "needed" is on the coolant water output from reflux coil. Keep the collant temp below 140F and you will never send vapor passed reflux coil. A thermometer in the vapor path is useless after the learning curve is over, just my opinion....you can feel the column with your hand to decide when the vapor is reaching the top of column.

But if you have to have one...it should be above the packing, close or in takeoff and shielded from reflux dripping on it.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby hilbilly » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:26 pm

When I started this hobby I built a 2" Boka and ran it very slowly, drips per second, and was very happy that I was making my own vodka but the slow take off and fiddly take off valve got to me and I changed to a 2" VM with a 1" take off. Much better and I'm getting just over one litre per hr at 95%. But now I want faster. I toyed with making my own SPP to put into the 2" VM but decided against it due the to high cost of SS wire around here. So now I've decided to go with a 3" CCVM using SS scrubbies. I wish I had the opportunity to get cheap SS parts like DAD, but not in these parts. So I ended up going with scrap yard copper. I got 8 ft of 3" pipe, about 5ft of 2", 4 ft of 1 1/2" and some smaller stuff too. Had a heck of a time finding some SS flexible gas pipe and finally found some on Amazon.ca. I now have 2 sections of 1/2" diameter, 72" long and I'm ready to get started building. I'm going to use the SS gas line for a reflux condenser and a product condenser. This just seems so easy.

Question is should I have a 2" take off from the 3" column (for a reflux ratio of 2.25:1) or a 1 1/2" take off ( for a 4:1 reflux ratio). I'm going to run this on my little pony keg with 3000W of input. Will that be enough power to run a 3" column or am I wasting my time? I'm also planning to use 50" of packed column since that is what I have for my 2" setup. Is that overkill for a 3" column? I see that DAD built one with only 36" of SS packing and was getting Azeo at a rate of 3 quarts / hr from a 1 1/2" take off.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby DAD300 » Sun Nov 15, 2015 1:37 pm

hilbilly...use the largest takeoff you can build for speed. equal to the column dia is best for speed...smaller takeoff will give more reflux/higher ABV. But that's only an issue if your column isn't making high enough for you.

3" x 50" will give you lots of options on how to pack and run.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby hilbilly » Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:22 pm

Thanks DAD300. I decided to go with 2" take off, 2" 90 then a stub of vertical 2" before taper into 1 1/2". I twisted the 1/2" gas line and with a little force managed to get the twisted line into a 1 1/2" pipe. I must say this is a LOT easier than making a copper wound reflux coil and a Leibg product condenser. Now I hope that 3000W will be enough to drive this thing. Got a little more work to do before it's done.

The cost of building a 3" column is a lot more in my parts, than the $180 you can build one for. I called an auto shop and was quoted $250 for a 5ft section of SS exhaust pipe. No fittings, bending or brazing included. I got the 3" copper column from the junk yard for under $100. When I went to get the fittings at the wholesale plumbing supply place I just about fell over when the guy told me some of the prices. A 3" x 3" x 2" Tee was $65, a 3" cap was $33. I didn't even ask how much a 3" x 2" taper was. I ended up cutting slivers out of the bottom of the 3" pipe and making my own taper. The 2" Tee was made by brazing the 2" to the 3" for cost of $0.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby javaman1966 » Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:32 pm

got it done tried first cleaning run 5 gal water 2 gal vinigar
question i have is whats proccess to get steam to come down shotgun
pulled ccst condenser almost out just got a few drip not much
pulled right out capped top with 2 In copper cap got good trickle threw shotgun
any help getting ready for sacrificcal run just wondered does it change with alcohol

thanks for sharring your wisdom
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Monkeyman88 » Thu Nov 19, 2015 3:18 pm

Yes it will change with the alcohol run. Ethanol vapour is heavier than air so will take the easiest path. Out the shotgun :-)
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Mobrewer » Tue Aug 30, 2016 6:38 pm

How long is the Csst in your reflux coil for a three inch pipe? What about for the product condenser? Thanks! I'm working on a modular design for this idea to let me do neutral as well as pot/stripping runs with just the upper section in place.

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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby kimbodious » Fri Dec 02, 2016 9:53 pm

Finally up and running with my 2" CCVM reflux column still :thumbup: . I have had a CM and a regular VM but I must say that the CCVM is hands down the easiest of the three to operate :D . Good first test today with the ambient temperature in the 30s (Celsius)!
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby GSP » Fri Dec 23, 2016 1:46 pm

So the consensus is a movable condenser off the top of the column, ala Boka, and a roughly same diameter takeoff (full size Tee) going to a liebig or shotgun arrangement is the easiest build? The angled (smaller?) takeoff with the takeoff midway up isn't done by anyone?
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby still_stirrin » Fri Dec 23, 2016 2:41 pm

GSP wrote:So the consensus is a movable condenser off the top of the column, ala Boka, and a roughly same diameter takeoff (full size Tee) going to a liebig or shotgun arrangement is the easiest build? The angled (smaller?) takeoff with the takeoff midway up isn't done by anyone?

I don't fully understand what you're asking, but the CCVM (condenser controlled vapor managed) reflux column is much more common than a CCLM (condenser controlled liquid managed) reflux column. Why...probably because it is easier to build and the vapor managed system is better suited than a liquid managed system for extraction of the hearts. The LM is actually better at compressing and drawing off the foreshots and the heads, however.

OK?
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby casper the Irish » Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:54 pm

I have now made 2 spirit runs (3" equal Tee all stainless head). Like hillbilly my max power is 3Kw (gas ring)

First run I drew hearts at 91% on half power at a steady 3qt per hour. It is interesting to feel how RC and PC establish a balance.
Second run on full power, abv did not go above 87% and that cooler balance was unstable.

I learned on a 2" boka then 2" VM/LM combo how to stabilise, then gently increase TO by counting the drips. So I began this first run in a similar manner, replacing the valve with an attempt to control ABV by power management. It seemed to yield higher purity at lower settings.

On the 2nd I used full power to try and flood my column. I read that reflux should be run 80% back from flooding. It just won't flood. The abv dropped, hearts were inferior to my 2" copper VM

What should I do now to tune up my new baby?
Increase power to 5kw, flood the column? At 3kw I was unable to stabilise the takeoff flow, it surged a few minutes before stopping, then surging again when I moved the coil around.

Replace the packing? I have 48" of tight rolled mesh. SPP is something I would have to make myself without a lathe.... or specify clearly to a workshop.

My first low power run at 91% is almost good.
In both cases it proved possible to go deep into tails. This speeded dramatically when I replaced the RC with a cap, ran quickly down to weak tails.


55l SS keg
60" of 3" column packed with tight rolled mesh. (bottom 30" copper pipe packed by amphora copper mesh, 2 centring collars. Top 30" in SS with SS mesh).
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby casper the Irish » Tue Dec 27, 2016 2:16 pm

GSP wrote:So the consensus is a movable condenser off the top of the column, ala Boka, and a roughly same diameter takeoff (full size Tee) going to a liebig or shotgun arrangement is the easiest build? The angled (smaller?) takeoff with the takeoff midway up isn't done by anyone?


I think you are referring to the relatively tall pipe above the horizontal take off on VM columns. These do have fixed coils, they do not reach down to the Tee.
CCVM coils are shorter, they move, and slide right into the Tee. For that reason the junction looks much nearer the top, not as you see in VM or bokacob LM
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby casper the Irish » Tue Dec 27, 2016 3:39 pm

Kegg_jam wrote:
snowman_fs wrote:Is there any reason you would not want to run through the hearts in CCVM and then remove the reflux condenser and cap the top to finish up in "pot" mode


I do this sometimes. It's fun to watch the alchometer jump right out of the parrot. I've not been brave enough to try blending those tails though. Some nasty stuff.


A simple metal cap to replace the RC at the end of hearts does work for me. Hearts were well compressed so tails from 85% down to sub 25% all come over quickly.
I would of course Collect all in separate vessels and add to my next run. This acts to recycle and concentrate those flavours that have been excluded from pure hearts by reflux.
Rum or fruit brandy: strong tails have a concentration of fusels so I either discard or add to next stripping run, weak tails that taste good (38% -30%abv) are great for diluting kept hearts, or added into low wines for the next spirit run.
I am told whiskey makers return all feints into the spirit run, if not for a solo feints run

Gin and vodka are unlikely to have more than hearts worth collecting.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Matt86 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:15 am

On the standard CCVM, does the horizontal vapour takeoff branch length have an effect on running the still?

In my WIP build (42mm pipe, 42x42x42 equal T, 42mm 90 degree elbow, 42x22mm fitting reducer, 22mm pipe, 22x15mm reducer, liebig) it would make supporting the column easier if I can use the liebig as a structural support either resting on or mounted to a table.
To do this I would need to extend the takeoff branch horizontally before the 90 degree bend or reduction in size to the internal liebig. 20cm(8 inches) or so.
My setup is stock pot based so additional support of the column is needed especially if I go the marble packing route.

I don't see pictures of stills build this way but I'm unsure if is just the added expense or because of negative interactions with running the still.
Anyone have any input on the subject?
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby still_stirrin » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:18 am

Matt86 wrote:...does the horizontal vapour takeoff branch length have an effect on running the still?...Anyone have any input on the subject?

It shouldn't unless the horizontal pipe is excessively long (greater than 20 pipe diameters). Since, the horizontal run is passing vapors, the length may be adjusted to suit your geometrical needs. But if too long, the vapor will lose heat to the pipe and start to condense. As long as there is a "drain direction" in the run, it shouldn't start to puddle. Otherwise, I believe you'll be OK.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Matt86 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:23 am

How much of an issue is puddling? I can see insulation helping minimise the issue but even with short runs there is horizontal surface area where liquid could theoretically pool.
Is there any way to induce drain direction without having an off vertical column or tweaking the T?
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby still_stirrin » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:04 am

My VM takeoff branch uses a DWV Tee fitting...which has a natural slope cast/extruded into the fitting causing the liquid to drain back to the primary line (the column).

If you're using a water system Tee (rated at a higher working pressure), I don't believe those have the slope designed in. So, when you build it and solder the fitting, just arrange it so there is a little slope in the run....if it is long.

How long do you need the horizontal branch to be? Are you less than 20 pipe diameters? If so, don't worry about it.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Matt86 » Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:21 am

At its most simple I need ~20cm so 10x column width but I should be able to reduce that to 5x without any trouble.
I think that would be safest, no need to step outside the norm for small benefit and an unknown risk.

Thanks for the help
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby casper the Irish » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:58 pm

Finally got a full 40quart charge of barley low wines to run. I stripped to zero, so the abv wass 21%
My spirit %Abv is stubbornly sitting at 90% even when running slow for heads, and when opened for hearts I am getting under 2litre/quart hourly. Nowhere near Dads 3litre/hr After the first few litre everything slows to just drips. It's like tails came too soon.
What am I doing wrong, how can I make this better? I have it locked vertical, perhaps change my packing, use scrubbies, or pebbles? Anyone know if pebbles should be < 0.1 of column dia? Hey, that's practically grit!

3" equal Tee, SS with csst coils. 50" column with rolled SS mesh packing.
It does seem quite tricky to run. I find myself constantly adjusting not only the coil, but water flow, heat as well.

I just discovered tonight that the direction of flow thru the rc makes a big difference. Curling in from the top and out up thru the cold finger works much better. This makes the coil warmest at the bottom, coldest at the top. Should I move the coil right up past the Tee (I can feel the hot/cold line move well above the Tee as the horizontal fills with heat). or keep it across the branch?
When I reduce cooling flow to raise outflow temp to hand hot, my product flow increases from drops to a near mouse tail. But suddenly coolant from RC can shoot up hot, then product surges down the lyne condenser.

What to do?
Last edited by casper the Irish on Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby BayouShine » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:28 pm

You shouldn't be adjusting the coolant flow through the RC. Find the flow that keeps you in the 120* range on the output side and leave it there. This is a VM still, not CM.

The surging you're experiencing is because you're opening the "gate" farther by reducing the coolant flow. The coil adjustments will be a lot easier if you leave the coolant flow rate the same.

How much heat are you putting into the still that you're having trouble keeping things balanced?
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby casper the Irish » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:26 pm

It's a 3kw gas ring. I at first ran it full up to try and flood my column so I could dial it back a fifth. It wouldn't flood for me at that heat. Perhaps packing is too porous? Its 6" wide mesh rolled tight.
But when I raised the coil, hot gasses pushing up to the RC at first, then sideways to overload the lyne condenser. Back and forth, between full reflux or output. As you know both coils are in line.
This time I tried hearts at a third (maybe 1kw) good but slow, turned it up to just under 2kw to get more out and that swing surge started again. What happens is the cooling water at 120° just suddenly gets hot coming from the RC which then overheats the lyne condenser.
Last edited by casper the Irish on Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby BayouShine » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:36 pm

casper the Irish wrote:What happens is the cooling water at 120° just suddenly gets hot coming from the RC then lyne condenser overheats.

How do you have your cooling water routed? Sounds like you're going straight to the RC, then to the PC. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

If that's the case though, the routing is backwards. It should go to the PC first, then RC.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby casper the Irish » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:42 pm

Oh!
Thanks BS, you're right!
In that case my PC is oversized! 3' long, but thankfully I use 10mm push fit water tubing, easily re-plumbed.
I wonder f that would be what restricts my output?
What ABV/flow can you get, Do you use scrubbies? Any idea why I am stuck at 89-90?
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby BayouShine » Mon Feb 27, 2017 6:46 pm

viewtopic.php?f=50&t=59420

Here's my still. It's only a 2" version but I do run copper scrubbers.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby casper the Irish » Mon Feb 27, 2017 7:52 pm

That's a nice still, and the glass, I don't think they are available in Britain. What is it that you can see to adjust your power?
Without the glass, what other symptoms are there? My layers of silver bubble wrap keep it too quiet...
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby BayouShine » Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:17 pm

The sight glass will help you drive the still. With it, I'm able to keep the column flooding balanced to stay within the glass. I keep it there throughout the entire run, pulling a quart off every 20-25 minutes at 93%-94%. The flooding will dance in the glass until I get close to the tails, then it'll recede back into the packing.

T-Pee has a short video of what it should look like. viewtopic.php?f=2&t=54029 <--There's a lot of good info to read in this thread too.

I find that when the flooding reaches the top of the packing, it makes a gurgling/slushing sound. That's where you're going to have to learn to balance things out with yours.

There are 2" sight glasses like ours on ebay, if that's an option available to you.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby kimbodious » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:03 am

BayouShine wrote:The sight glass will help you drive the still. With it, I'm able to keep the column flooding balanced to stay within the glass. I keep it there throughout the entire run, pulling a quart off every 20-25 minutes at 93%-94%. The flooding will dance in the glass until I get close to the tails, then it'll recede back into the packing.


Wow you could be describing my CCVM runs BayouShine, yours sound reassuringly identical to mine. I notice the receeding but haven't noticed the fogging some people comment on for tails. I have a sightglass window not a cool sightglass tower like yours!

I tried running my CCVM without a sightglass initially. I was listening hard to pick up changes in sounds but my system is really well insulated and all I achieved was a scorched ear :oops:
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby BayouShine » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:26 am

Once the flooded column dips back into the packing, drop the condenser down to close the gate, put a little more heat back to the still and equalize for a few minutes. It'll help clean up the last few ounces before things get rank. I haven't witnessed the fogging myself simply because I shut things down and haven't gone that close to the tails.

kimbodious wrote:I tried running my CCVM without a sightglass initially. I was listening hard to pick up changes in sounds but my system is really well insulated and all I achieved was a scorched ear :oops:

The sounds I normally hear are coming from the open top of the still. It's pretty obvious, even to my half deaf self.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby kimbodious » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:44 am

As soon as I see the level in the sightglass disappear I shut it right off. I don't even bother keeping feints from a CCVM run.

If I hear that sputtering sound from the top of the column I know I'll need a towel and umbrella unless I back off the heat pronoto! :lol:
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