Packing a narrow column?

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Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 10:47 am

If I had a column that was 3/4" and 2' high with a dephleg mounted on top is it even possible to pack it without insta flooding? If it could be packed I'd assume normal ss scrubbies would create too much hold up so what would I pack it with assuming it can even be done or makes sense....
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby greggn » Wed Jun 13, 2018 11:41 am

Raschig Rings ... consistent in shape and non-compressible.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:03 pm

OK, so it could actually be done.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Pikey » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:29 pm

I use stainless scrubbies in 1" - well ok I don't any more, but I used to and yeas it can be done, and yes it is possibe to pack them too tight, which doesn't actually stop the flow, but does cause a back pressure and we don't really want that.

Thin columns need a clean flow and a smaller flow rate too.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 1:59 pm

Yeah, less constricted by packing. I'd like to fool around with a little packing on my up and coming milk can rig but I just need to select the right type of packing on such a narrow column. I went hunting for 2" copper pipe but hard wear stores always seem to have everything other than the one thing you're looking for lol. It's fine, I will try busting up some of the narrow gauge glass tubing I have and see if that'll work. Maybe experiment with loosely packed scrubby pieces.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Yummyrum » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:13 pm

You could use scrubbers . I used them on a 1" too .you just need to push them in .... not Ram them in like your packing a musket .
But to be honest I thinn that the vapour speed in your 3/4" will be so high that 2' will be pretty pointless unless you are runing with a few hundred watts max .

Best place to pick up a piece of 2" copper is a plumber . They always have a rack or drum of off cuts that often they will sell you for scrap price. Sure you'll usually cop some crap about making a still , but when you flash a bit of cash , they don't seen to care . Just don't be a smart ass and ask for a receipt .
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:07 pm

Yeah, if I mess with packing it I'll be on a very slow run. Actually I had a plumber kinda shoo me off when I started asking about 2-3" remnants or pipes. I think he might have guessed what I was up to.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby zapata » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:08 pm

Best deals I find on decent sized copper pop up on Craig's list. Ebay tends to be pretty pricey, sometimes more for used pipe than McMaster or grainger are for new!
(Which begs the question, did you check either of them, they tend to not be really cheap but are super convenient to a lot of the country...)
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:56 pm

No, I don't know why I didn't. Good call. Even if I could include an expansion chamber of 2" and X length it would help. Not building a full blown column but I am fooling around with controlled reflux on a milk can pot still. As it currently stands I'm using the lessons of the liebig experiment to create a regulated purifier on top of the still. This time I'm routing the water source very differently so I don't run into the problems I had with the prototype. I should be able to control drip rate and to some extent the proof by fine tuning the water flow to the dephleg. The product condenser will receive it's own constant supply which will only increase as I dial back on the water supply to the dephleg. It should be able to be taken from full reflux to no reflux by adjusting the dephleg water inlet valve. I'll run a test on it before final assembly but it should be quite interesting to run.
Last edited by Alchemist75 on Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 5:58 pm

I'll provide the general plan of the design in a bit
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:32 pm

OK, 5 gallon milk can boiler (4 gallon capacity) with a short copper riser 3/4", length to be determined, with an 8" dephleg mounted near the top. Dephgleg will have a water inlet control valve (at the top of the shell) that opens and closes completely. Product condenser is 12" length 1/4" diameter which will attach to the top of the dephleg. Water comes from a single tap, gets split into two lines by way of a T joint. One line to the dephleg and the other to the product condenser. The general idea is not to build a true fractional column but to exploit the reflux rate to get better cut separation, flavor control, and modest proof control especially on stripping runs. Basically it stands somewhere between a proper reflux still and a pot still. Adding packing wasn't planned for in the original design and may not be a feature at all, I was just curious if it was even possible on such a narrow riser. Yes it's kooky but I payed close attention to Der Wo's comments on how it works. Like I said, I won't do final assembly before I see this thing in action but I'm quite curious to play with such an odd design....I need a bigger pot still anyway
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 8:48 am

Well I'm glad I didn't solder the riser on. The packing is fine but water cooling the riser is causing total mayhem. No matter how I adjust the flow the thing surges. I popped the cap off to see if the thing was flooding but it's totally not. I fiddled with energy input, product condenser water flow rate and reflux rate and no matter what I did it'd surge. Luckily I have plenty of raw materials to build a new connector to the pot but I'm baffled. Anyone have explanations why having a cooled riser would cause such issues?
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Pikey » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:04 am

OK well 3/4 " is a very narrow column, but "Surging" ? - Are you heating it on an electric hotplate ?

WHat is your heating system ?
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby der wo » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:05 am

But a surging sound is typical for flooding. You could try to run it without packing. If this works, try looser packing.

All in all a 5gal boiler is large enough for a 2" column.If a 2" column works best with 2kW, a 3/4 column will work at 750W best. Edit: Wrong information. I will correct this in a new post. You will need days to distill a 4gal batch with 750W to 95%.
Last edited by der wo on Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Pikey » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:11 am

der wo wrote:But a surging sound is typical for flooding. You could try to run it without packing. If this works, try looser packing.

All in all a 5gal boiler is large enough for a 2" column. If a 2" column works best with 2kW, a 3/4 column will work at 750W best. You will need days to distill a 4gal batch with 750W to 95%.


Perhaps we are hearing the word "Surging" diffeently wo - I'm thinking of it as surges in output - typical of a bimetallic strip thermostat on an electric hotplate. You're thinking of it as a sound ?
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby der wo » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:22 am

I think of a siphon. Or sucking with a drinking straw from an almost empty glass. Is this wrong?
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Pikey » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:32 am

I think surging could describe your description as well. I don't think that is "wrong" as such - just a different situation. We'll see what Alchemist comes back with as what HE means by the word 8)
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:33 am

Propane gas. It was surging at the output. I physically removed the condenser arm mid run and gave it time to misbehave. Nothing, no flooding occurring at all. Steady output of steam from the top of the riser. The packing was very loose. Soon as I put the condenser arm back on the surging resumed. I ran into a similar issue with the luebig condenser experiment, it couldn't maintain a steady drip. Is it possible that the cooled riser is somehow drawing air back into the system causing vapor flow issues?
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:39 am

It's the product condenser! Even as we speak I have it connected directly to the boiler, no riser. Still surging. Playing with the water flow and energy input doesn't remedy the problem. It can't maintain a steady drip
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:48 am

It's 1/4 id copper tubing, the jacket is about 13 inches long, there's probably about 5 inches of exposed copper at the bend where it connects to the boiler. I've never seen anything like this before
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:54 am

I can't imagine that it's narrow enough to be causing flooding in the copper bend itself but maybe I'm wrong. It's not making the bubbling noises I'd associate with liquid pooling in the elbow. I don't know what to make of it.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:00 am

Placing a cold rag on the elbow makes it worse. I need to insulate the thing.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Pikey » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:01 am

Look up "Huffing" - I don't know about this as I run a Dimroth and the case acts as a reservoir to an extent - but "they " say it sounds like "Huffing" - try that. Anyway, glad your column seems ok :)
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:04 am

I'm going to try a little experiment with a much skinnier lyne arm. I wonder if I just need to shorten the path and increase vapor speed
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Pikey » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:09 am

Just a thought - Your condenser is not completely vertical is it ? I think a slope of around 30-45 degrees downwards would be good.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:27 am

No, it has a 45 ish angle. I just proved myself dead correct. Vapor speed, it's all about the vapor speed. I just connected up a quick and dirty lyne arm, an old narrow diameter copper spiral riser to one of my lab condensers. Steady drip city. I think the vapor was having a hard time maintaining a steady flow through such a wide lyne arm.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby der wo » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:32 am

Alchemist,
of course when you remove the reflux condenser also a 3/4" column works well. Steam doesn't flood.
And of course a 1/4" inner tube for a product condenser is way too small. It's dangerous IMO.
Why are you wasting your time with such dimensions? No way to get this running properly.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby der wo » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:41 am

I correct here my post:
Many here run 2" with 2kW. Somwhere at 2.5kW perhaps it starts flooding. 2" diameter means 3.14 square inch. 3/4" means 0.44 square inch. 0.44 / 3.14 x 2kW = 280W. 280W is a good wattage for a 3/4 column. To use 280W instead of 2kW means, your runs will need 7 times longer than with a 2" column.
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:42 am

Excuse me, the diameter was 1/2 not 1/4. Sorry, just caught that error. It had very ample room and length to do it's job. My glass lab condensers are the same, 1/2 id. Unless you can explain differently I believe it was a vapor speed problem. Why else would a skinnier lyne arm, spiral riser no less, fix the problem?
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Re: Packing a narrow column?

Postby Alchemist75 » Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:55 am

And the column was less of a proper column and more of a cooled riser with a controlled water input. It's more condenser than exposed pipe. I wasn't sure what to expect from such a design but the problem I encountered appears to be a question of Lyme arm diameter. Please correct me if I'm wrong but I can only tell you what I'm observing in real time
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