4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

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DetroitDIY
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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by DetroitDIY » Sat Nov 18, 2017 12:02 pm

Thanks for the good study Bluefish... I'm half way through a 4" Ø plate column with a packed section on top, but all adjustable so I can determine the number of plates (1-6) and the presence/absence of the column (2'). I've been thinking about what packing to pick for it. Lot's of options, and ultimately everyone seems to be happy with whatever they have and are familiar with. But... if there were some data on the effectiveness of the different packing materials that would be great to see.

Did anything yet come of that idea?

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by bluefish_dist » Sat Nov 18, 2017 3:45 pm

There is another thread where packing materials are compared. It was the test I would have done given the time. The short version is that stainless scrubbies are one of the best packing materials.
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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by spiff » Mon Nov 05, 2018 7:27 am

Sorry for necroing an old thread but I have an update to this.

I have extensively tested both marbles and copper packing over the last year and I can say with certainty that plates do a much better job creating a pure neutral, at least for me. I realize this should make no sense since plates supposedly allow smearing but this has been my verdict. I have a 6 plate flute and it was always the same BW recipe.

When I ran marbles I would still keep two rolls of copper packing at the top. I couldn't tell a whole lot of difference between running marbles vs just packing. A just packing run would be the whole column stuffed with copper rolls. But comparing either to running with plates is a huge difference. My runs would almost seem like there are no hearts at all, to the point that I started to doubt my cut on the run abilities so that it had me going back to jars. The result was the same; shortly after heads I would already be detecting the licorice presence of tails.. even right at the beginning of hearts.

I tried running both setups different ways too... my goto method is minimalist...running the least amount of cooling to knock down what I need. But I also tried over powering things.. running high coolant flow with higher amps to compensate... nothing kept tails from smearing through pretty much the whole of my run. No amount of running 100% reflux would help either. When I run with plates I never had tail smearing no matter how I refluxed. In fact I usually never run 100% reflux with plates because I never had to. In the beginning of my run I would set the top RC coolant rate and just let the predefined power slowly overcome the RC on its own and this was always enough. Basically, that initial 10 min or so it took for the column to heat up, that is the extent to the full reflux that I ever had to do with plates and it always works perfect. While trying to get a tail free packing run, I had ran the column with 100% for at least 30 min and it didn't matter...immediately was able to detect tails on take off.

The only good thing about the marbles or packing was the simplicity of the run, never had to worry about balancing plate baths. In the end it wasn't worth it though.

But even my usual method of rerunning results to get the cleanest neutral possible was moot.. a single plate run did a better job of compressing tails to the very end than any number of reruns using marbles or packing. Maybe I'm just sensitive to the presence of tails, but any at all detected and I consider the run a failure and I'll rerun it again.

Anyway, for me I'll be sticking with plates. A whole packed column I reserve just for the stripping runs now.

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by still_stirrin » Mon Nov 05, 2018 8:39 am

spiff,

What type of reflux management did you use with the packing and marbles?

I have a combination LM/VM reflux head and the VM is excellent at managing the run and pushing tails to the end. The LM is great at compressing heads and foreshots. So, I usually start with that and switch to the VM for the rest of the run. And I have a 2” x 39” marble packed column. It runs great with about 1.5kW input and will push azeo throughout the run from a low wines wash.

You’re obviously trying to do “one & done”. And with a plated column, you’re probably running at least 3”, more likely a 4”, which has a much higher throughput.

What was the still and column under it when running with packing and marbles?
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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by spiff » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:03 am

Hey SS

Regarding reflux management, I tried everything. I used what always worked with plates as my baseline settings..pushing around 15amps, RC output about a quarter inch, hot. I played around with varying degrees of 100% as well using varying degrees of RC cooling/amps and time spent in full reflux. No matter what I tried I would still get tail hints unless running plates.

I never one and done, in fact I was advocating up to 3-4 spirit runs for a while because I was noticing how much more heads/tails each run was able to cut until I realized you could do that forever until you had nothing left. Eventually I found my sweet spot to be a strip and 2 spirit runs.. anything past that was diminishing returns. The difference between a single spirit run and the 2nd was worth the effort IMO.

But the clincher to me was a couple times I ran a batch of single spirit ran hearts from a plate run through a marble or packing run and it just made the product worse. IMO this was definitive evidence that anything other than a plate run was just contaminating my product.

You mentioned azeo.. interestingly I didn't notice much difference in percentage of product.. I pretty much always get 95% +/-, even on a stripping run and the packing runs were the same. But clearly weren't as clean.

My rig is 4in, 6 plates and I always run a foot extension at the top so there is always at least a foot of copper rolls at the top no matter the run type or configuration.

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by spiff » Thu Nov 15, 2018 1:03 pm

Just a quick correction on my post above.. when I say I get 95% even on the stripping run, I mean initially...it immediately drops thru the rest of the run. Spirit runs though I can keep though all the way to tails.

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by tommysb » Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:01 pm

Sorry to dig this up, but search threw up the topic. Forgive me if it's covered already in another thread!

Going back the original question of 'which is better, plates or packing' - bluefish_dist compares EITHER many plates, a packed column, or some combination of the two, to roughly the same physical height (limited by his ceiling height).

If he WASN'T limited by the ceiling height, would we expect that the best rate and heighest chance of hitting azeo would be to put his 5 plates, and then as much packed column height that he had equipment for?

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by zapata » Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:50 pm

Azeo has been achieved with packing, plates, and combinations. If you take away the height restriction and specify no other limitations then what is the point? Choose any combination of packing and plates and stack it up until it's tall enough for the speed you want to run.

With no physical restraints then column design choices become less about performance and more about convenience, maintenance, up front cost, running cost, availability etc. And if you don't care to limit any of those, then you can just buy a 50 foot tall 5 column factory and make anything you want from bourbon to fuel to purified fusels.

That said I can make a case for the benefits of running a packed column over a plate or two, especially at the hobby scale which does have various restrictions. I don't see a benefit to 5 plates under packing, but if height specifically doesn't matter, there's nothing wrong with them.

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by tommysb » Tue Nov 03, 2020 4:52 am

My question came from the position I'm in - I have a shortish section (50cm?) that I can pack with scrubbies, and also a plated section. I wanted to understand more generally - if I am trying to make a neutral, how to get the best purity/quality with the greatest speed. If one had access to a few plate sections (no uncommon) and a few feet of column to be packed (not uncommon), would there be an advantage to running them together. I suspect that the answer is yes.

https://homedistiller.org/forum/viewtop ... =1&t=63103
Now here's the funny thing. The less packing I use (the shorter I stack my column), the more reflux I need to maintain 96.5%. The more reflux I need, the less product I can assemble.

There you have it: column height is not just related to purity, but also to speed. If I fill my 3-incher with 125 centimeters of packing, production speed goes up tremendously.
My personal setup is a plated section (4", 'procaps' for those in ), and 50cm of additional 2" column, that I can pack with copper scrubbies. Given one, OR the other, OR both, I guess I should opt for both?

The takeaway, would be If I was starting from scratch, a single, taller, packed column might achieve the same thing with less expense than the hybrid plated/packed.

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by Saltbush Bill » Tue Nov 03, 2020 4:58 am

tommysb wrote:
Tue Nov 03, 2020 4:52 am
. If one had access to a few plate sections (no uncommon) and a few feet of column to be packed (not uncommon), would there be an advantage to running them together. I suspect that the answer is yes.
Short answer, you are correct.

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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by bluefish_dist » Tue Nov 03, 2020 6:06 am

For purest product at the fastest rate, you need the most plates and largest diameter your space and power allow. The higher effiency, thus shorter hetp of the packing, the more plates and the higher the abv you can produce for a given height.

As diameter got bigger how I packed the packing became more important. It was harder to make a 6” column packed with scrubbies run. I was able to get it right and it ran faster than the 4”, but the 4” had slightly better abv performance. We are talking .25 to .5 abv better.

IMHO plates become too expensive when you get 15-20 of them. Much cheaper to run packing and more efficient as well.
Last edited by bluefish_dist on Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 4" plates vs packed testing for neutral

Post by jonnys_spirit » Tue Nov 03, 2020 9:22 am

I was wondering if anyone had used packed material (eg; copper mesh/etc) and incorporated j-tube or similar downcommers into the packed arrangement to separate sections of flooding/fluid-bath.

How might this affect the stacking and output WRT a packed column?

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