Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Distillation methods and improvements.

Moderator: Site Moderator

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:16 am

Hi Barney, thanks for the encouragement. If you re-read my post you will realise that I swapped columns on a CLEANING run, as far as i'm concerned a perfect time for comparisons without ruining a good run, iff I was panicking I would have mentioned a fire extinguisher. later in your post you encourage "try things within the run, like wrapping the column, or blowing cool air on it with a fan, or whatever you think of"? and yes this is a great learning curve, I learnt that a column with slant type plates is not doing much more "for me" than a 200mm length of open pipe. you also state "That you plates held low ABV is great! It tells us that they're working, since water would not get up there on its own" yep there working I'm creating some great distilled water and returning it to the boiler without increasing the abv% one little bit, so whats the point? I also ALWAYS take notes, If you want I can pm you the last 2 days activities but iff so don't complain that I chewed up your monthly download allowance.
So basically as far as "I" can tell, from "my" evaluation unless you are using packing in your column or a column with a typical reflux type add on then a column with slant type plates is not going to do much for you, well not 6 or 8 plates anyway.

And no I have not abandoned ship, i finished several runs, know what this column can do and now I'm going to get busy with my hacksaw :twisted:

I guess Barney everone has a different level of satisfaction, i'm just not there yet....................

MM.

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:22 am

OD, the bok condenser isn't in place. I have my pot still column added over the bok column, remember.

Mash, if you would have had high ABV in the plates, that would tell us they're not distilling, thus not working. The fact that they were low ABV is good news; mine is very low, also. If I leave my bok takeoff open like I did that last run, the plate gave me less than 40%, but when I have the valve shut and crack it open after a few minutes and repeat this enough to collect enough to measure, the ABV was nearly un-measurable with a spirit hygrometer, it was so low. At high wattage input, the plate's collection is quite clear and clean; the blue, oily crap comes when I run it slower.

Your column is also very different than mine and Olddog's, in that we don't have tubes on our slant plates. Might be something there that we're not understanding, and you are also the first one to leave the plate's excess as a fin. Insulate it now to see what effect the fins have VS leaving it open for cooling; could be that cooling at the plates isn't what we want.

And finally, when I run at 1500 watts or higher, mine acts more and more like a regular pot still; I've said that before, and yours seems to be acting exactly the same way. But slowed down to 750 watts, she's a whole other machine, and strips out a bunch more crap while still giving me a full flavor profile, and it gives me my goal of a single run product that is as clean or cleaner than a double or triple run product. Less time, less energy consumed, better product. But I assure you it didn't happen on my first cleaning run, and I'm still learning to drive it now. And that's my overall point; learn to drive this one; it's not going to want to be run like you're used to.

EDIT: I also have copper packing above my uppermost plate, basically where the BOK condenser would have been. Do you have any mesh or packing above your last plate? And how much column do you have above your last plate? I keep forgetting to measure mine, but there's roughly 20 inches of open column above my last plate.

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:17 pm

I just measured it, and there's 19-1/4" of empty column above my uppermost plate. 5-6 inches of that has copper mesh in it, the rest is empty. That length makes a difference, as this is where some of the refluxing is happening, and this reflux is what goes back into the plates.

A column works by having different temperature zones, and each temperature, as we know, will cause a different volatile to condense back into liquid. On a short column, there won't be enough temperature variations to separate the different volatiles, so we get more smearing(good term; thanks!) of the various volatiles in with our hearts, which we want to be clean ethanol. We can help by running the shorter column at lower energy input, thus giving the column more time to cool, and thus do some separation of volatiles for us. Good pot still users will vary their power carefully to accomplish this, packed reflux column users will adjust their reflux rate to accomplish the same goal. We need to do some of both. The difference with plates VS a packed column is that plates, if we run them correctly, will separate a different volatile at each plate, because each plate will be at a different temperature. A packed reflux column just re-distills everything, leaving clean ethanol at the offtake. But run a reflux column at too high power, and it'll smear the ethanol just as easily as the pot still will smear, and our columns are the same. A taller column allows more power input and faster takeoff rate before this smearing happens because it has more time to cool, and thus, to separate. What you have, I believe, is very short column, and it's acting like a short packed column, which means that if run hard(1800 watts is a good bit of power), it simply doesn't have enough time to cool and separate anything. Some, but not as much as you had hoped for. Now, you can either abandon the whole thing, or add some length to it, or simply turn the power down until you find where the column wants to run in order to separate like you want it to. This is no different than any other still head; if we want to push more power and keep the ABV and clean output, we need a longer column. It's that simple.

We can think of it this way, also. Think of the vapors as a ball, and the power as compressed air. Put the ball into a pipe, and put some air to it. Say, 20psi, and we see the ball goes up 3inches, but doesn't come out of the pipe. Crank it up to 40 psi, and now the ball hovers at 6 inches, but still hasn't come out of the pipe. So we blast it with 120 psi, and out she comes! Same here. At 500 watts, we don't have enough power to push the vapors up to the top of a 6 foot tall column, but the 500 watts would push the vapors about halfway up; if we had 6 plates up to there, the plates would fill with the most volatile, lightest compounds in the vapor, and we can now collect these and toss 'em, as these are the fores and heads, compressed. But we never get any output at the condenser. Bring it up to 7oo watts, and now we can push past the plates and make it to the top of the column, and into the condenser. And all the while, the heavier (tails, now) volatiles stay behind, in the plates, being redistilled and overflowing back, but never can they make it up the column, because there's not enough power to push them to the top. And that, in a nutshell, is how mine is now working. Now, if crank the power to 1500 watts, I do push the volatiles up to the top, and I do get smearing. If I want to run at 1500 watts, I will need a taller column, or build a double-column head, like the evil twins.

So, again, you have a too short column for the amount of power you're pushing. Don't shoot the messenger; it's just physics. I do thank you for making me back up and think it through and put it into words; I now understand my own column better.

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:03 pm

Hi Barney, thanks for all your feedback and 'insightfull" hypothesizing. i'm not done playing with this column, and like I said it produces a fine product, quality wise on a single run. yes I turned the power down, even to the point of one drop per second and sure it might have been "cleaner" which it certainly was as all flavour was gone but the abv was hardly any higher +-4% I wrapped the column in a wool blanket and it lowered the abv by an unmeasurable amount. I stuck a fan to it with gale force and it raised the abv by about 4% max. I understand the theory of how a plate column works, temperature differential etc etc but I am now questioning whether a slant plate column is going to be capable of producing a single run product at an average strength suitable for ageing without using packing or other means which I relate to reflux colum design for the purpose of high abv and stripping flavour.

I'm going back to the shed, right now.

MM.

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Thu Feb 18, 2010 2:19 am

Ok update on the shingle back column.

so I went to the shed yesterday and sat looking at the ugly thing, less than a week old and already looking like it has had a long hard life. I realised some more mods and back to back testing were in order so i decided to give it some more grief.
First up I cut off the external plate drain tubes, crimped the ends of the tubes and soldered them .
I scavenged up any 2" tube and fittings i had, 2 pieces of tube total 300mm and some end caps. I used the caps some 3/4", 1", 3/8" and 1/4" tube and made two plates with bubble caps, installed these into the 2" tube so all I had to do was remove the top from the column and install the tube with the plates and solder it top and bottom.
I watered down some all grain strip to 40% then divided it in 2, approx 24l each. got the first charge in the boiler, column with slant plates only, assembled all ready to go .
I made the first run this morning and got pretty much the same results I get from my open column. heads 80% to 75%, hearts 75% to 53% then tails getting oily at about 45%. the tails kicked in about 2% lower than the open column. good clean flavourfull spirit, cut points well defined, volume collected was as close as I cold tell the same as the open column, maybe 100ml or two more.

I then installed the tube with bubble plates on top of the column with slant plates now a total of 900mm, gave it a good clean, 15l of boiling dunder flushed through it a few times hopefully did it's job. charged the boiler with the next batch and proceded to be enlightened.
I collected about 150ml to let the column clear any water fom cleaning, stabilize etc. then stuck the parrot under it 86%, cool got an increase here, collected heads till around 80% then started collecting in 400ml jars, when I swapped a jar over at 78% I was surprised that there was only a slight hint of heads in what was coming out of the parrot, kept hearts from 77.5% let the run proceed and started taking more notice again at about 60% got to 55% and no sign of tails, got to 50% and still no sign of tails, got down to 45% and I was thinking I was screwing up, tails were evident at 42% nice clear tails to 36% then shut it down as it started to get oily/opaque.
So I will end up keeping from 77.5% down to 43%. so I figure the start of the hearts is higher in abv because of heads compression and a more defined cut point with less smearing and the tails, well what can I say, giddy up 8) it is stripping a lot more alcohol out while compressing and holding back the tails.

This has given me a 20+% gain in drinkable product, still have the full flavour profile and the cuts are more defined.

I can see I'll be making some more bubble plates soon and see what 6 or 8 will do on their own. will keep you informed.

Cheers,
MM.

olddog
Master Distiller
Posts: 3618
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: WEST OZ

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by olddog » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:07 am

Toldya that the bubble plates would work. :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
OLD DOG LEARNING NEW TRICKS ......

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:35 am

Could be the bubble plates, but I suspect the extra column length is the bigger factor, as he's seeing pretty well what I've been seeing all along with mine, without the bubble plates.

At any rate, well done! Worth the effort now, isn't it? It sure is disheartening when something doesn't work as expected, but what a rush when it does work!

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Thu Feb 18, 2010 12:53 pm

600mm of column with slant plates does not do anything for me over a 200mm open column, an extra 300mm of open tube would mean I would be up to 500mm of open column shorter than the slant plate at 600mm so the extra 300mm would = no gain.

Folks the bubble tray/cap system is the way to go.
I will start a new thread on this as the new build happens, more testing needs to be done first so it's going to take some time.

MM.

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Thu Feb 18, 2010 3:24 pm

You said this in your previous post: "I then installed the tube with bubble plates on top of the column with slant plates now a total of 900mm"

Did you not add the column with the bubble plates ON TOP of the slant plate column and run it? That's what you're saying there.

Now you say this: "600mm of column with slant plates does not do anything for me over a 200mm open column, an extra 300mm of open tube would mean I would be up to 500mm of open column shorter than the slant plate at 600mm so the extra 300mm would...."

Which is a helluva puzzle to decipher <lol>

Which one is it? What was the total length of the column in your successful run? What we're gathering is you added 300mm of column with 2 bubble plates in it over top of the 600mm column with 6 slant plates in it, correct? So, you now have a 900mm(35.45") column with 8 plates, no? The plates should work similarly, no matter which style they are, as long as they hold the same or similar amount of liquid. More plates, more length, more better!

olddog
Master Distiller
Posts: 3618
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: WEST OZ

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by olddog » Thu Feb 18, 2010 5:11 pm

I think it's about time to declare that this type of plated column does not work, or if it does, its in a very limited way. Apart from you Barney, everyone who has tried to emulate this type of column have failed, and these guys seem to be very competent still builders, Buttwheat, Mashman, and myself.
The reason all reflux stills work is that the refluxing takes place in the packing which is a simulation of multiple plates, the two plates at the top of the Bokabob still are to direct the spirit to the takeoff plate and have little to do with the reflux action. The plate column you have devised allows the vapour to bypass the plates in a zig-zag fashion, and only a tiny amount is affected by the slant plates, there is no physical separation with this design, which is why all of us have failed to achieve the claims you make. A solid peforated plated is mounted completely across the column which then forms different levels of distillation which is why the bubble plates work, and the vapor cannot zig zag past the plates as in your design.
I think it is about time the concept is MYTHBUSTED
If you think I am being too hard on you, show us some alcometer readings while the column is running.

OD
OLD DOG LEARNING NEW TRICKS ......

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:32 pm

<shrug> What's to stop anyone from taking alky readings of store-bough Everclear and posting those? How could I have faked, and why would I have faked, the jar of green crap? I'm not makin' this shit up, guys. Do you really think just two bubble plates are responsible for -everything- Mashman got from his last run? I don't think so. Not for one minute. If so, let's all toss everything aside and just build short columns with two bubblers, no? instead, I think it's working in combination with the slant plates below them; in fact, it has to be. And none of you have replicated my column; none of you have placed a long, empty length of column over top of the plates, except Mashman just now, but you're attributing all the new gains to two plates? It wasn't that long ago that you were telling us that you could hear the drip from the slant plate returns on your still, yourself, but now you say they are bypassed and do nothing?

the two plates at the top of the Bokabob still are to direct the spirit to the takeoff plate and have little to do with the reflux action.

And the 6 plates under the original BOK plates do nothing?

Mine's working, bud. It's not a myth. Is it perfect? Hell, no. That's why I said I was saving up my nickels to build one like yours. But does it work as I report it does? Hell yeah! Was it dead simple to build? Hell yeah!

At any rate, up until a few months ago, everyone was telling us that small plated columns couldn't work, and everyone swallowed the whole deal, and nobody challenged the thinking until I let y'all in on my work-in-progress, knowing it wasn't perfect, but knowing I was seeing real gains with a simple to build method, and that has lead to you building bubble plates and various still heads and refining my ideas faster than I could. Now you're throwing me under the bus for why?

HookLine
retired
Posts: 5628
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 8:38 am
Location: OzLand

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by HookLine » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:54 pm

Let's keep this civil, folks.

Barney, if others are having trouble reproducing your results, then there is a problem. Exactly where the problem lies remains to be seen.

Most disagreements in science & engineering are because we do not have enough evidence and understanding.

It is possible that small variations in your basic design idea can have big effects on the output results. IOW, there might be a design variable that is critical, but it has not yet been properly identified and understood.

Or how the design is run might be critical, it may need a slightly different operating procedure. Etc.
Be safe.
Be discreet.
And have fun.

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:25 pm

Right; it does indeed need to be driven differently; I've said that in damned near every post, and hell, I'm still learning to drive it. Nobody's going to build any variation of a true plate still and just sit back and have it work right off the bat; these will be more finicky than pot stills; it's like getting out of a Ford Explorerand jumping into a Ferrari; it's a good bit trickier, but if driven right, is way more responsive. And nobody's yet replicated my setup, but rather, everyone's done their own take on it, which is cool, because the more variations we get going, the more ideas we can work on simultaneously. I have no problems with any of that. But I do take offense to being called a liar and being told to "prove" my results with photos, which could be doctored up anyhow. Bullshit; I haven't done anything to deserve that.

blind drunk
retired
Posts: 4848
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:59 am

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by blind drunk » Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:42 pm

I've been reading this thread intently but sadly I'm as dense as a sack of hammers. And then, just when I was getting the hang of it, the "bubble plate" shows up to the party. What is it, if you don't mind? Wondering, bd.
I do all my own stunts

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:20 pm

Hey Barney, dude what I was getting at was that my column 600mm long with six slant plates spaced 3 1/4" apart with internal down tubes does not give ME ANYTHING different on a single or double spirit run than what 200mm of open tube does. so what I was trying to say was that if 600mm of slant plate column does nada for me over 200mm how is an extra 300mm of column going to do anything, to me 200+300 = 500 which is less than the 600 which is no better than 200, so ya still confused because I've had enough. I'm gona mount the 300mm with 2 plates between my boiler and column give it a run and my bets on MYTHBUSTED. hey how about you try it yourself you might be surprised at the result.

MM.

Edit: No I'm going to mount the 300mm with two plates on top of 600mm of open tube then do a run exactly as before and then have a MYTHBUSTED party with olddog and drink what was produced.
Last edited by MashMan on Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

olddog
Master Distiller
Posts: 3618
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: WEST OZ

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by olddog » Thu Feb 18, 2010 11:36 pm

blind drunk wrote:And then, just when I was getting the hang of it, the "bubble plate" shows up to the party. What is it, if you don't mind? Wondering, bd.
Perforated Plate
Perforated plate column

For continuous-run applications, it's hard to beat a perforated plate column. Because the construction is simpler than a bubble cap plate and involves only drilling or punching holes in the plates, it tends to be less expensive than the other plate design. Vapors flow through holes in the plates and are cooled by liquid flowing across the plates. Alcohol stays vaporous and rises, while the water sinks through downcomers.
Attachments
bubble plate.jpg
bubble plate.jpg (12.02 KiB) Viewed 14260 times
OLD DOG LEARNING NEW TRICKS ......

olddog
Master Distiller
Posts: 3618
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: WEST OZ

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by olddog » Fri Feb 19, 2010 12:11 am

This is your original post, claiming you were using your potstill column 15" of 2", no mention of using your Bokabob column.

This is your original claim.
Quote
[I've since done one strip run with the packing above the plates, and with the fan running, and was able to pull the strip at 80% in the hearts, though she dropped to the mid 70's in the early tails, then dropped like a rock to 20% or so at the end. Interesting to note that my tails are nearly as clear as my hearts; barely any oily appearance at all, where my tails were always easy to spot. The hearts here were as good as any 2nd run product I've ever done, and quite likely as good as most of the 3rd runs; very tempting to keep them as-is.]
OLD DOG LEARNING NEW TRICKS ......

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Fri Feb 19, 2010 10:15 am

I see the confusion; no, the 15 inches of 2" column is actually my old pot still column that I ADDED over the BOK column, to which I added 6 slant plates below the original BOK plates. So with the 15" plus the empty section of the BOK column that would hold the old condenser, I have 19-1/4" of column above the first plate; I added a bit of copper mesh to it right above the first plate, just to help get some reflux because the plates do nothing if we don't send something back to them. I have run it without the packing, and it was pretty much the same. I also no longer use the fan; I'm getting plenty of good reflux now that I've turned my power down. It is all confusing because I'm still learning to drive it, and I have tried to report back on every change I've made. Instead of modifying the still every week, I try a different way to run the same one every week, to see what all it -can- do. Some has worked, some didn't. Mash and you both seem to make changes to the still head at each run instead of first trying to get the most from one head before changing it. Basically like an engine builder just swapping carbs on the engine until it runs the way he wanted, instead of changing the jets in the first carb to tune it to the engine to it's max potential(former drag racer here :) ) I'm a fine tuner, not a parts swapper. Once I get the most from this head, then I'll move-on to a more refined one(yours)

Mash, I understand what you're saying and how you're thinking, but here's what I said many times; you had nothing above the slant plates to force some reflux back to them(especially at 1800 watts input), and that's why they didn't do anything; as soon as you added the 300mm of column with the two bubble plates, it all began to work well. For sure the bubblers work, but those 6 plates you have beneath them may have worked as well as mine do had you just placed the empty 300mm length of column, as I had suggested.

It's great that you guys are getting better results than I do; a good teacher should always be outdone by his students ;) But quit being assholes with this mythbuster BS, as all you're doing is calling me a liar, and that I am not.

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Fri Feb 19, 2010 11:01 am

Here's my rig. You can see the 6 plates(bottom one barely shows for whatever reason) plus the 7th plate is the original BOK takeoff plate. Above all that is a 2" coupling, which is where my old pot still sits over the old BOK column; iot isn't soldered, but only needs three wraps of thread tape for a good fit. I check it every run with a mirror to be sure it isn't leaking, and it hasn't; with it like this, I can still; use the BOK as a reflux column by taking off the pot and liebig and replacing the BOK condenser, and I can still run my short pot still and liebig alone if I want to. Nothing was hacked up or compromised. Total length is about 50", 56" if we count the 90 degree elbow and length to the boiler(it's a side exit). No bullshit, no myth; this thing works as I say it does. And note the name of this thread is "simple, yet effective", and that is is; very simple and easy to make, and quite effective, if you follow it. Miss out on some details, and it obviously doesn't work. I never titled it "ultimate plate column", just simple and effective. Sorry for the dust on the still; we're drywalling the shed...
sp.jpg

HookLine
retired
Posts: 5628
Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 8:38 am
Location: OzLand

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by HookLine » Fri Feb 19, 2010 8:44 pm

Barney Fife wrote:It's great that you guys are getting better results than I do; a good teacher should always be outdone by his students ;) But quit being assholes with this mythbuster BS, as all you're doing is calling me a liar, and that I am not.
Sounds reasonable to me. 8)
Be safe.
Be discreet.
And have fun.

blind drunk
retired
Posts: 4848
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2008 12:59 am

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by blind drunk » Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:09 pm

Thanks olddog. bd.
I do all my own stunts

hooch hound
Novice
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:35 am

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by hooch hound » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:28 pm

Good read! I realize that the issue may not be ´settled´, but I learned alot from the back-and-forth discussion. I was planning on a 12-18 in column on the pot still I am going to build, but after reading this, I realize that is too short (regardless if there are plates or not).

olddog
Master Distiller
Posts: 3618
Joined: Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:16 pm
Location: WEST OZ

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by olddog » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:26 pm

12-18" is fine for a normal potstill, but will need to be higher if you are going to use plates. 6 plates at 4" gap between each plate equals 24" plus top and tail, probably work out at about 36".


OD
OLD DOG LEARNING NEW TRICKS ......

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:08 am

Ok, I decided I wasn't going to post the results of the slant plate/bubble cap column that i said I would do ( this topic was getting a bit heated, not something i wanted to continue to contribute to) but due to several pm's and others that have been following this topic I thought it only fair to spare them the time and expense of constructing a slant plate column, slant plates only that is (no packing, bok columns etc) which myself and several others thought barney Fife had done.
So I removed the two bubble cap plates, added 300mm open tube to the top of my plate column as per Barneys wishes, total length now 900mm. I also made a straight open column of 900mm, no plates, just plain tube. I have done back to back runs of +or- 10abv wash, all from the one ferment stirred well then into the boiler. There is NO difference in the outcome from either column, the only slight difference is I may choose to keep one more jar, 200ml of the tails from the column with plates, time will tell. power input, (yes barney only enough power to just push the vapour to the top of the column) time to do the run, amount collected, all the same. I also did two spirit runs on strip from last week, same result, may keep a little more of the tails from the slant plate column. In my opinion there is nothing to be gained for the work it takes to build a slant plate column over open tube. Now three days later I have decided to only keep the extra from the run of the strip,about 200ml, so the slant plates are holding the tails back ever so slightly.
Since then as a part of testing for the upcoming build of the 8 or so bubble cap column, I did a small run with the section of tube with the two bubble caps that I had on top of the slant plate column. My original results were backed up without the slant plates.

Anyhow even though the shingle back beast does nothing over open tube it makes a pretty funky looking pot column.
I hope this helps clear up most of the questions I've had.

MM.

User avatar
Husker
Admin
Posts: 5031
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2006 1:04 pm

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Husker » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:42 am

MashMan wrote:Hey Barney, dude what I was getting at was that my column 600mm long with six slant plates spaced 3 1/4" apart with internal down tubes
I wonder if what you have done with this 'improvement' is to pretty much eliminate the benefit of the design. With downcomer tubes, you now have all possible reboil/reflux happening, ONLY in the collection cups of the slant plates. If the plates are allowed to overflow, and run down the side of the still to the next place they are caught (2 plates down, I think), then there is a long flow, of very thin liquid. The surface area (where any reflux will be happening), is vastly larger than simply the top layer of the pool.

So, is this the design improvement which is causing you to not be able to replicate the results? I can not say. When 'improvements' are made, without first understanding what is actually happening behind the scenes (which at the current time, it sounds like no one has a firm grasp on exactly WHAT makes it work, or not work), then how can you make claims of the original design failing, when you have no experience WITH the original design.

Just my $0.02 worth, since I have no experience either, I am simply reading from afar.

H.
Hillbilly Rebel: Unless you are one of the people on this site who are legalling distilling, keep a low profile, don't tell, don't sell.

hooch hound
Novice
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:35 am

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by hooch hound » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:53 am

olddog wrote:12-18" is fine for a normal potstill, but will need to be higher if you are going to use plates. 6 plates at 4" gap between each plate equals 24" plus top and tail, probably work out at about 36".


OD

You guys have my interest peaked here, so maybe I will go ahead and build mine with a 36" column for future modification. From what I gather, I have nothing to 'lose' by doing this.

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:52 am

then how can you make claims of the original design failing, when you have no experience WITH the original design.

Well said; thanks.

A couple things to add here. I don't get high ABV; I -can- by using a fan to cool the top of the column, but since I stopped using the fan, my hearts start at 78% and are clean right down to 50%(and lower, I'm sure, but at 50% I crank the power and collect the rest as tails). What I'm getting instead of high ABV, is very clean hearts. And the two big items that made it work for me was dropping my power down to 750 watts, and collecting the output from the upper most plate separately. I now have just over 2 quarts of the blue/green liquid; I consistently get around 300 ml per 5 gallon run of this stuff. Before I started running with the collection valve open, I was still getting a lot of heads smeared into the early hearts, but now I can play with the power and collect pure fores and heads separately, and never get any hearts to the condenser. It's amazing to watch a steady stream of liquid going into the small jar while the top of the column is still cold, and there's no condenser in there. I now have 4 runs under me, all done the same way, so I'm getting the knack of it more and more. I work the power(no controller yet, so I unplug the element when my thermometer reaches 175f, and plug it back in when it comes down to about 160, which is 3-4 minutes at first, and gets quicker as the heads are used up. In about 15 minutes of this, I'm no longer seeing much more than a drip or two per second, and I plug her in and start to collect from the condenser at this point. The first couple hundred ml still have some heads to them, so I set these aside, but the rest from here is just clean, clean hearts! Not high ABV, but clean. In one distill, I get a cleaner product than I did with 2 or 3 runs before, and I get more of it. I don't know what more I could ask of it, really. Even the tails I collect and set aside are way cleaner than before, with just a bit of cloudiness to them. All the crap is in the other collection jar...

I did consider that the blue/green stuff was somehow related to this nasty feed molasses I was running(done with that; back on fancy mol. now), but I ran one UJSM style rye wash last week, and it was as blue/green as the rums, so it's not the molasses.

So, if I may? No down tubes. Do collect from at least one of the plates, and figure out what to do, either through power or with a bit of forced reflux(fan?) to get the nastiest possible product from that plate. Don't send it all back down to be re-distilled, as that is self-defeating. The ABV in these green jars is so low it's not worth trying to squeeze anything else from them. I'm only keeping mine right now for color comparisons between washes, to see if one will be dirtier than another.

Oh, another difference in my column that very well could be a influence is that there is still a non-collecting plate above the collection plate; it was a BOK at one point, after all. So I can very well be getting much of the reflux-feed to that upper most plate from that plate above it. I hadn't considered it at all until just a few evenings ago during a run when it dawned on me that that plate can be doing something...

And MashMan, 200ml more product from the same wash isn't "nothing", by the way. If you're collecting 2 liters of hearts, that's a 10% gain in product, for no more power or effort. Any commercial distiller would kill to gain 10% product at no extra cost or effort!

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:06 pm

Barney Fife wrote: And MashMan, 200ml more product from the same wash isn't "nothing", by the way. If you're collecting 2 liters of hearts, that's a 10% gain in product, for no more power or effort. Any commercial distiller would kill to gain 10% product at no extra cost or effort!
Yes Barney 200ml is not to be sneered at, but iff you took enough notice of my post you would see that that was from a wash that was already stripped, I thought we were trying to get a good product from a single run, and it was more like 2.5% . On a single run 10%abv wash nothing more was kept as the tails were too strong.

So folks my playing/testing of the column that I built shows this column is a dudder as far as doing a single run goes. I have not achieved anything physical by this exercise though a whole lot was learnt on the journey.

I am done with this and moving on.

MM.

MashMan

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by MashMan » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:12 pm

Hey I just made swill maker status with my last post, quite appropriate considering the results I got from the slant plate column build. :lol:

MM.

Barney Fife
Site Donor
Site Donor
Posts: 1249
Joined: Wed May 21, 2008 5:20 am
Location: Mayberry, NC

Re: Simple, yet effective 2" plate column

Post by Barney Fife » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:39 pm

Wait a minute... everything you ran it it were feints? No washes? Yet another variable... Not sure how much more heads/tails/oils/crap you can expect to squeeze from a charge that's already been stripped of most of them.

Oh well, at least you tried, and sorry it didn't work for you as well as it does for me, though I now suspect or expectations and understanding of what to expect are very different.. Wish you luck with your next build; keep us posted!

Post Reply