Designing and Building Automatic Stills (1st ed)

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Designing and Building Automatic Stills (1st ed)

Postby kiwistiller » Wed Jun 23, 2010 3:21 pm

I can't believe this one hasn't been reviewed yet. ... p_0-3.html
The blurb:
The newest technique in amateur distillation is Automatic Reflux Control (ARC), which takes all the guesswork out of controlling a still to ensure that it produces the best product with the least trouble and supervision. The idea behind ARC is to use the temperature at the top section of the still to automatically keep both the output and the reflux ratio at optimum values to ensure you get excellent results. The actual system is amazingly simple and can be attached to most existing conventional still head. The book is copiously illustrated, and several methods of ARC are described in detail from the simplest 'mechanical' system, to advanced control using a computer.


Chapter 1 – Simple Stills and Boilers

How to make a simple boiler
Boiler from a stainless steel kettle
Pot stills and condensers
Air cooled stills

Chapter 2 –Low Reflux Operation
Distillation with herbs and gin
Carbon filtration
Rum, Brandy and Whiskey
Making Whiskey

Chapter 3 – Reflux Stills
Management techniques
Still head design
The Spiral Still
Condensers for reflux columns
Running the still for pure ethanol
Making a sugar mash

Chapter 4 –Automatic Reflux Control (ARC)
What happens inside & electronic controls
Electronic ARC (E-ARC)

Chapter 5 –Building a Modular ARC Still
The LaCreuz Mk.I
VM option for the LaCreuz Mk.I
Other accessories for the LaCreuz Mk.I
Heads separation
Short version of the LaCreuz Mk.I
Thor's Hammer

Chapter 6 – Electrical ARC

Appendix 1 – Controlling Heating Power
Appendix 2 – Source code for Power Controller
Appendix 3 – Faster runs with purer and higher yields
Appendix 4 – Tables

Right, that's the copypasta done...

In my opinion, if you are interested in reflux design and optimising your column (and to be fair it isn't for everyone) you need this book. It's a rather slim volume, but some very elegant solutions, both mechanical and electronically controlled, are presented in a succinct fashion.

To anyone that is reasonably well versed in distillation, Chapters 1 through 3 are not going to be earth shattering, in fact you'll probably know most of it. Where the book gets interesting is in detailing the ARC and E-ARC still designs and theory, which are probably the most advanced reflux designs around for a home distiller interested in neutral spirits and their production. Of particular interest to me was the work on heads compression and separation, which is interesting even if you aren't looking to make an automated still.

If you purchase the book, you get access to ARCforum, which is run by Riku to provide ARC design support for owners of the book, and provide updates that will presumably eventually be published in a new edition. It would be nice if some of the design work was available publicly, but I figure Riku's entitled to benefit from his design work and testing.

All in all, if you are into your neutral in a big way, or just interested in reflux design, get this book. If you are only really interested in flavoured spirits and pot stilling, don't bother, this book isn't for you :D
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