Condenser Controlled Columns

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Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby DAD300 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:10 pm

We are having quite a bit of discussion lately about Condenser Controlled Columns and I would like to make sure everyone gets the concept.

It is possible to eliminate the costly, nasty valve from an LM or especially a VM still.

I know of more than a few builders with Condenser Controlled VM's in the U.S. and some LM's internationally. Manu de Hanoi has a site selling a very unique LM version. I hope he will chime in.

Design entails using a reflux condenser/coil to block the flow of vapor or liquid from departing the still. It is variable and quite controllable.

If sized properly, the tails of the reflux coil will remain between 110-120 degrees F. This means it is easily movable with the bare hand.

Movable Reflux Condenser II.png
Vapor Management CC

Liquid Management r.gif
Liquid Management CC
Liquid Management r.gif (4.1 KiB) Viewed 24431 times

3 positions.jpg
Looking into Vapor Take-off on VM


The 3" VM version is very linear in control, the 2" was less linear. I improved the 2" by making the bottom tail of the reflux coil longer, more pointed.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Mazriam » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:42 pm

Well, that is interesting.

Your first picture:
It would seem to me, that you could accomplish the same thing more efficiently by switching to a CM style still. Rather than moving your condenser up and down to control reflux, you would simply control your cooling water flow.

Your second picture:
movement of the coil is not necessary, as you would control reflux by your take-off rate. example (if you set your take-off rate to 50 mils a minute, but your condensing at 100 mils a minute, then your refluxing at 50%)
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby DAD300 » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:08 pm

If you didn't move the condenser, it wouldn't be a Condenser Controlled Still.

This is a simpler method and avoids the cost and smearing associated with a valve.

It also does not require a finite control or continuous adjustment of the cooling water.

Either design as pictured require no valve or welding. All the parts for a copper version can be bought locally and assembled in an hour or two.

I can do a 3" triclamp SS for less than $180usd and assembly in less than an hour!
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Maritimer » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:05 am

Hi DAD,
DAD300 wrote:This is a simpler method and avoids the cost and smearing associated with a valve.

Could you expand on this smearing claim?

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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Bushman » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:15 am

I wonder how this design came about? Years ago I built a second coil for my first VM still and it was too long. On a run after refluxing for an hour I opened my valve and nothing happened, trouble shooting I figured out the problem lifted the coil up and had to prop it at the top so it didn't fall back down. I just modified the coil for the next run then about a yesr later saw this concept.

It does work and is another way to build a mouse trap. Not sure I agree with the smearing comment on a valve, Guess it depends on the location of the valve on your still.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby FullySilenced » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:28 am

I have one of these... its a no brainer.... Manu sliding condenser column (the bottom column picture that Dad posted) Hook had some prints in his collection for this one... and showed how to make a copper reflux condenser for it as well.

corrugated SS gas line is the easiest thing in the world to make a reflux condenser or a product condenser with... it has tremendous surface area works so well its hard to believe it till you try it...

i have used bot 3/8" and 1/2" corrugated ss gas line in a column both work equally well... I silver brazed copper tubing to the ends to adapt to my coolant hoses and took all the fittings off of the product.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Maritimer » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:04 am

Hi DAD,

You know what this thread needs? Some calculation and understanding. And a diagram of the whole setup.

Can we assume that the rest of the still is standard VM? Vertical drop to Liebig? No, do you use a sloped Liebig condenser or sloped drop tube?

The reflux condenser seems to act as a gate (!) to the output product tube. The wider the product tube opening, the more vapour flows out.

If it were to drop to a Liebig, there would be other forces (ethanol density and condensation vacuum) pulling more vapour down. Hard to imagine getting higher reflux ratios. Using The Compleat Distiller formula:

RR = refuxMass/(refluxMass+productMass)

One way to reduce the flow to the product line is to reduce the pressure at the product port. Could it be the reflux condensation vacuum that reduces the product flow?

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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby DAD300 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:11 am

Yes this is a column, over an ummodified keg, with a “T” on top, a Short pipe above that for the reflux condenser…off the takeoff port there is a leibig…

I have changed the takeoff to leibig from short straight drop to long angle. No noticeable or usable effect. The path from takeoff to product vessel is always open to the atmosphere…if it were closed there would be some effect.

“The reflux condenser seems to act as a gate (!) to the output product tube. The wider the product tube opening, the more vapour flows out.”

Yes, we are merely replacing a physical valve with science…

Changing the size/ratio of takeoff to column dia changes the maximum takeoff rate. And we could use this to create a min reflux rate… I have done this, with ratio of 3” column with 1” takeoff and 2” column with ½” takeoff. The science held up perfectly.
Keeping the takeoff port the same size as the column, not only gives max potential takeoff, but makes the actuation of the reflux coil/gate more linear.

There are two reasons I advocate for this design-

1- No matter which type valve, gate, butterfly, or ball valve, or how closely it is positioned to the column, there is a liquid pool or vapor buffer zone between the column and valve. This dead zone is creating a smear between cuts. Pooled liquid is obvious, but if there is vapor backed up in this dead zone, there is some parasitic condensation and or mixing of these vapors. This is different than the mixing in the column because these vapor have no chance of reentering the reflux cycle.

2- A valve adds approx 30%+ to the cost of the build. And that is unacceptable when there is a no cost way to eliminate it.
Now, a key point…if you have a VM column with a valve on it, you can try this without destroying your build…add the moveable reflux condenser and just leave the valve open! If you’re just building, leave the valve off until you decide if you need it or not.

I hope you know I like you and your science Maritimer. You make me smile. And I hope you have a design or engineering job. I don’t see you getting job satisfaction any other way!

I don’t ignore science; I attempt to use it to full advantage. Especially if it saves money and makes better booze!

FS brought up the SS Flex condenser coils and while I’ve shown them many times, I’ll do a tutorial eventually. Cheaper than copper, easier to wind, impossible to ruin…I suggest the cooling coefficient is as good or better than copper due to the increased surface area.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Mazriam » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:23 am

DAD300 wrote:
FS brought up the SS Flex condenser coils and while I’ve shown them many times, I’ll do a tutorial eventually. Cheaper than copper, easier to wind, impossible to ruin…I suggest the cooling coefficient is as good or better than copper due to the increased surface area.


Yea, i'm giving serious thought to changing out my copper condenser to a 1/2 SS condenser.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby S-Cackalacky » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:46 am

DAD300, after reading a number of the threads where you discuss this design, I have resolved that this will be the column I build when I'm ready for a reflux still. I've noticed that there seems to be some resistance to accept this as a functional design. Being a relative beginner to the hobby, I come into it untainted by prior (or existing) techniques. I see the simplicity of the design as being a brilliant departure from the norm and I appreciate your almost single handed advocacy for the design. I'm somewhat physically disabled and I especially welcome the simplicity of design and ease of construction.

Thank you for bringing this to the forefront,
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Mazriam » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:55 am

S-Cackalacky wrote:DAD300, after reading a number of the threads where you discuss this design, I have resolved that this will be the column I build when I'm ready for a reflux still. I've noticed that there seems to be some resistance to accept this as a functional design. Being a relative beginner to the hobby, I come into it untainted by prior (or existing) techniques. I see the simplicity of the design as being a brilliant departure from the norm and I appreciate your almost single handed advocacy for the design. I'm somewhat physically disabled and I especially welcome the simplicity of design and ease of construction.

Thank you for bringing this to the forefront,
S-C


His designs will work, but I still stand by my previous comments
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby DAD300 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:32 am

Maz...yes and no...

Conventional CM's (coiling coil below the takeoff) have been notorious for having to be tweaked during the run. And the design requires some cutting/welding of the column...

And yes, once you find a sweet spot for the coil, you "could" make very minimal adjustments by increasing or decreasing the cooling water flow. But if your goal is minimal water waste, you only need to find the minimal flow that prevents vapor blowby at the top.

And thank you, but I take no credit for the design...manu de hanoi showed this idea to me. If I used an LM design, it would be his...

Wait till you see azeotrope from a 3" x 30" at a quart every 15 minutes from this still...the threads are on here if you look...
Set r.jpg
CC CM with 30" column...
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby DAD300 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:35 am

Look at my column and realize, in copper, there would be straight pipe, one "T" and one elbow...no fabrication at all...
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Bushman » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:55 am

DAD300 wrote:Maz...yes and no...

Conventional CM's (coiling coil below the takeoff) have been notorious for having to be tweaked during the run. And the design requires some cutting/welding of the column...

Probably the reason many of us that built larger CM stills went with a dephlagemater as our condenser.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby heartcut » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:15 pm

I found that a flowmeter for the dephleg water changed my "fiddly" CM into a straightforward, easy one- without a meter I would overshoot adjustments in both directions. That is even more money, but I really like mine. I do make before run reflux coil height adjustments (depending on what's being run), might be fun to do it during a run and see what happens.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Maritimer » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:39 pm

Heidie ho DADio,

I ended my post with this:

Maritimer wrote:One way to reduce the flow to the product line is to reduce the pressure at the product port. Could it be the reflux condensation vacuum that reduces the product flow?


When you consider the region where the reflux condenser is condensing, which is pretty vigorous at the bottom of the condenser, you have a lot of change from vapour to liquid and a lot of vapour entering to fill the void created by the vanishing vapour. Imagine that the condenser weren't there and the incoming vapour disappeared to somewhere else. It would have to go out of a hole, or you could even imagine it being sucked into the walls of the condenser, but it has to leave because it doesn't go out the top. It's this pulling-out force that I'm calling the condensation vacuum. If it were going out a hole, there would be a negative pressure pulling the vapour into the hole.

You see the moving condenser as a gate, blocking the product port; I'm proposing a mechanism that allows the condenser to act as a gate. There is way too much open area around the condenser to simply block the flow of incoming vapour--after all, it doesn't get condensed just at the bottom. There is vapour for a distance up the condenser.

DAD's condenser gate action.jpg


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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby F6Hawk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:41 pm

Pretty sure this will be my next design when I get the time and money to get the parts. Can't wait!
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby FullySilenced » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:45 pm

Dad post a photo of your completed unit again so they can see the dang condenser and output and so forth....

that will clear up their questions...

Thank you ..

FS

its a beautiful column ... last i saw of it...
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Prairiepiss » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:15 pm

I've noticed that there seems to be some resistance to accept this as a functional design.


I wouldn't say that. It's a proven design. That just hasn't taken off yet. And hasn't been publicized much till recently. Mainly by dad. I think the problems come from dad jumping into a thread and just saying. Remove the valve and it will work better. Without explaining what he is talking about. That cornfuses people. Because many don't know what the flip he is talking about. Hell he got me in a thread not to long ago. That's after I had partaking in some conversation with dad on another forum some time ago about this design. Memory is the first thing to go. :crazy:

The old tried and true designs have such a foot hold. You will never replace them. They will always be built. By someone. Take a look at how many still build the world class cm still. Even after its been shown to ne an inferior design. For the most part.

Now I'm still reluctant to call this thing a VM still. I know we have discussed this dad. But I'm still Hung up on it. I still see it as a reverse cm still. The take off is adjusted by adjusting the cooling input. Which controls the vapors. Where a VM still you actually mecanicly control the vapors with a valve. So a physical valve controls the vapor takeoff. Where in this design the cooling acts like a valve. As with in a cm still.

I just see it as a more efficient cm still. Probably always will. If I could ever get animations made up like I want to. I mite be able to prove my point.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby Maritimer » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:34 pm

Prairiepiss wrote:Now I'm still reluctant to call this thing a VM still. I know we have discussed this dad. But I'm still Hung up on it. I still see it as a reverse cm still. The take off is adjusted by adjusting the cooling input. Which controls the vapors. Where a VM still you actually mecanicly control the vapors with a valve. So a physical valve controls the vapor takeoff. Where in this design the cooling acts like a valve. As with in a cm still.


Hi Mr PP,

Dad says that the coolant temperature doesn't matter (somewhere), so doesn't that take it out of the cm category? He's condensing everything that gets through to the condenser and bypassing some of the vapour before it gets to the condenser. That sounds just like the VM mechanism.

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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby heartcut » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:05 pm

I agree with PP on the type of control. Looks to me that the coolant heat exchange is controlled by the depth of insertion (of the coil) instead of throttling the cooling water with a valve. You don't need a valve or flowmeter, adjustments should be easier and you'll use more water, but the control action is still accomplished by the amount of contact between the product and coolant, making it a CM with a different way of controlling the heat exchange.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby F6Hawk » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:14 pm

Raising the condenser or slowing the flow of cooling water would have essentially the same effect, no?
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby S-Cackalacky » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:40 pm

Prairiepiss wrote:
I've noticed that there seems to be some resistance to accept this as a functional design.


I wouldn't say that. It's a proven design. That just hasn't taken off yet. And hasn't been publicized much till recently. Mainly by dad. I think the problems come from dad jumping into a thread and just saying. Remove the valve and it will work better. Without explaining what he is talking about. That cornfuses people. Because many don't know what the flip he is talking about. Hell he got me in a thread not to long ago. That's after I had partaking in some conversation with dad on another forum some time ago about this design. Memory is the first thing to go. :crazy:

The old tried and true designs have such a foot hold. You will never replace them. They will always be built. By someone. Take a look at how many still build the world class cm still. Even after its been shown to ne an inferior design. For the most part.

Now I'm still reluctant to call this thing a VM still. I know we have discussed this dad. But I'm still Hung up on it. I still see it as a reverse cm still. The take off is adjusted by adjusting the cooling input. Which controls the vapors. Where a VM still you actually mecanicly control the vapors with a valve. So a physical valve controls the vapor takeoff. Where in this design the cooling acts like a valve. As with in a cm still.

I just see it as a more efficient cm still. Probably always will. If I could ever get animations made up like I want to. I mite be able to prove my point.

Just a personal observation Mr. P. Just seems that to some folks it can't work as well as X, Y, or Z because it isn't similarly complicated - that is, being simple flies in the face of everything they've learned or know to date. What I'm hearing in DAD300's tone when he writes about it is frustration - frustration with the reluctance many seem to have with it simply because it's new to them and not complicated enough.

I really don't give a rat's ass about the science of it. All I care about is whether or not it will do what DAD300 says it's capable of doing. If he's raising and lowering the position of the condenser to mimic the action of a gate valve, why would it not still be in the category of a VM. I think the unconventional dual use of the cooling coil and the simplicity of it is blowing some conventional minds.

Just sayin',
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby wv_cooker » Fri Aug 30, 2013 5:54 pm

You know I have followed this for a couple days now and I'm not sure what we are trying to sale. I do remember Dad saying that his coil was very efficient and that it would knock down all the vapors even with warm water, I don't remember the statement that water temperature didn't matter. I also know that a cm has a pretty efficient shotgun condenser nowadays and will knock down all of it's vapors with fairly warm water as well. Now answer this, how do you control the amount of reflux being returned, Coolant flow correct? Just like a CM? Sliding the condenser reduces the diameter of the opening thus reducing the volume of vapor allowed to escape out of the take off essentially creating a valve. VM, so wouldn't essentially be a CM/VM combo of sorts? Now let's make fair comparisons guy's. Dad, I wonder why when you made your comparison to CM that you were so careful to make the comparison to a Conventional CM. We all know that that is outdated technology that if anyone mentions it this forum highly recommends it not being used. Let's compare it to today's CM and the comparison equals out considerably doesn't it? Now I can see the arguments of simplicity, though it does entail just a little more than sticking a piece of pipe, a Tee, and a 90 together. I can also see the efficiency of using either stainless or copper flex tubing and it's simplicity of use. But, you are failing to make folks understand that you are comparing 1/2" diameter surface area to the 1/4" that most folks use to build their coil style condensers. For some reason your not making it as clear as you normally do that getting Azeotrope alcohol from this rig with a 30" tall 3" column, is due to the fact that you are using SPP ( Spiral Prismatic Packing) as your packing material and that it would take at least a 48" tall x 3" dia. column to do the same thing with copper mesh or scrubbers. The average person doesn't have a lathe readily available to them or a very good method of making their own SPP which would result in them having to purchase it at close to $200.00 to fill a 3" column. That sort of blows the cheap theory out the window. I see this as a good design that some one could build very reasonably using some different materials than you have if they wanted a reflux column. But then that brings me to the questions of how well does it compress fores, heads, and tails? I would also have to agree with PP's statement in another thread, not much in pot still mode. As you are one of the well respected leaders in this hobby, I was just hoping we could see more fair comparison's so that new folks reading this could make their own decisions on what I do think is a good solid design.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby HookLine » Fri Aug 30, 2013 8:15 pm

I think there have been two major innovations in still design in my time in the hobby. One is the LWTCS's addition of a bubbler/thumper at the base of a column, and the other is Manu's condenser control principle.

I understand PP's point about the CM aspect of this design, but I would class it as a condenser controlled VM, not a CM, because it is still operating on the original VM principle, just with the reflux control done in a different way. Maybe best to call it a CC-VM, to differentiate it from standard VM and CM designs. (And call the LM version a CC-LM.)

As has been pointed out, one big advantage of the valveless CC-VM head is that you can safely remove the reflux condenser, seal the top of the column, and use the head as a straight pot still.

I am also one of those who is a little surprised that condenser controlled LM or VM stills are not more popular yet. Getting rid of the cost of a stainless valve (and associated bits, like threaded fittings) is a substantial saving.

Only issue left to fine tune in the condenser controlled stills, far as I can tell, is the reflux condenser design. Mostly to reduce the required condenser length, and also to decrease adjustment sensitivity (so adjustment is easier and not as fiddly).
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby johnhopper1957 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:01 am

I have made maybe 20 - 25 of the condenser controlled LM's, they work really well the only issue I had was I notching the tube which took awhile.

Very cost effective design and works great just takes a little longer to make than a Double reducer Boka for example. I have not done one of the condenser controlled VM's, would be an easier build than the LM one I think and would work work great I reckon.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby TDS » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:18 am

Let me tell you,

Making a Copper Coil condensor is a beeeaaatch,
whatever these pros might tell you.

That ss gas pipe looks nice and easy.

Might have to grab me some.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby S-Cackalacky » Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:44 am

I can't speak to this with any great authority - but, doesn't lava rock compare in efficiency to spp? And, just askin', but how tall would a 2" version of this still need to be to accomplish the same reflux as the 3" X 30" version?

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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby wv_cooker » Sat Aug 31, 2013 5:03 am

S-Cackalacky wrote:I can't speak to this with any great authority - but, doesn't lava rock compare in efficiency to spp? And, just askin', but how tall would a 2" version of this still need to be to accomplish the same reflux as the 3" X 30" version?

S-C

No one has ever posted HETP numbers for Lava Rock. Mash Rookie was doing the studies on them. According to his posting he reached azeo in 4" x 30" tall column. Other studies continue now.
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Re: Condenser Controlled Columns

Postby rad14701 » Sat Aug 31, 2013 6:17 am

A condenser controlled VM still is still a VM and a condenser controlled LM still is still a LM still... Remember, it is what reflux method that is being controlled that dictates the type... If the reflux is based on liquid separation and return it is Liquid Management... If it is a separation of vapors then it is Vapor Management... Cooling Management is truly also a type of Vapor Management with the exception that the amount of coolant controls performance... So when controlling vapor separation by moving a condenser instead of a valve, while coolant flow remains unchanged, it is still Vapor Management...

Clear as mud, eh... :eh:
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