Steam distillation

Steam powered cooking and distillation devices.

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shadylane
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Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:22 pm

Brutal has a post about using steam for cooking mash. For the steam injector,
He was using SS mesh tubing to break the steam into smaller bubbles.
This idea also fixes the problem of corn goo plugging up the holes in the steam injector.
The SS mesh tube will also fit down the 2" opening in a keg.

I haven't tried this yet for distilling on the grain, but I will in a couple of days.
I wonder how big of a drain valve will be needed to empty a keg full of spent mash ?
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by S-Cackalacky » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:35 pm

I would think a 1" ss ball valve would be plenty big enough. Out through the bottom of the keg would be even better for completely draining the spent wash and cleaning.

Back pressure to the steam boiler could be a problem. Be sure to take some safety precautions - pressure relief valve and some way to vent it when the run is finished so you don't collapse the boiler.

Let us know how it performs.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by DeepSouth » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:40 pm

Definitely more than 1/2". I do steam injection for mashing and distilling and my 1/2" drains aren't big enough. I transfer mash from the mash cooker to the fermenter with a flexible impeller pump. It can handle the solids. Since the mash cooker is open top, I stir the whole time with a big spoon while the pump is transferring and this keeps the liquid from trying to separate from the solids and the mash cooker will completely empty. Do the same thing for transferring from the fermenter to the still. The problem comes when I try to drain the still. Since the still is a closed top keg, I can't really keep it stirred while I'm draining. As a consequence, a lot of the liquid separates leaving wet grain inside the keg. I have to refill it with fresh water and pump again to eventually remove it all. I'm going to upgrade to maybe 3/4" or maybe even 1" drains.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by DeepSouth » Sun Jan 04, 2015 3:42 pm

My drains are on the bottom of the kegs too, so I can get the kegs completely drained eventually.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Sun Jan 04, 2015 4:38 pm

S-Cackalacky wrote:I would think a 1" ss ball valve would be plenty big enough. Out through the bottom of the keg would be even better for completely draining the spent wash and cleaning.

Back pressure to the steam boiler could be a problem. Be sure to take some safety precautions - pressure relief valve and some way to vent it when the run is finished so you don't collapse the boiler.

Let us know how it performs.
The biggest weld spud or fitting I have on hand is 1" Hope it's big enough.

Safety is rule #1
The pot still used to boil the water has a 3/4" ID, 15 psi steam rated pressure safety valve.
Also a manometer and manually operated valve for venting the boiler.
With a 4kw heater in the keg boiler and the steam injector 15" under the mash.
The max pressure I saw today, cooking mash was 19" water pressure. Something around .5 psi
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:02 pm

DeepSouth
I'm interested in any words of wisdom you can supply.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Sun Jan 04, 2015 5:27 pm

rockchucker22 wrote:I was thinking about this some lately and was thinking it would be easy to try by making an adapter to inject the steam into the mash through the 2" triclamp fittings for the electric elements.
That might work, I'll read it again when I'm sober.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by Brutal » Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:08 pm

I'm about to order a brand new mop bucket and squeezer.. But I believe some version of what deepsouth does is in my future. Stripping on the grain is what distilleries do because it's the most efficient way of getting your alcohol back after fermenting on the grain. I don't make beer I make likker. I ferment on the grain and I think for me that's the best way to do it right now. For something I do in my spare time that's also illegal.. I'm not fuckin' with sparging. The less pieces to this puzzle the better.

I dream of having a 25 gallon steam injected boiler just for stripping on the grain.. Picture this: Steam inject mashing a 50 gallon all grain mash in a 60 gallon fermenter, then letting it ferment, Pumping half it into a steam stripper, strip, then the other half. You end up with 8-8.5 gallons of low wines to run in your regular still. After finishing in your regular still that's almost enough to fill a 5 gallon barrel for aging. That is what I call return on time invested.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by Truckinbutch » Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:34 pm

Brutal ,
You are a man after my own heart . I'm following every step you take until you stub your toe . Then we will have to figure out a way to get around that issue .
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by myles » Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:11 am

I don't know about this. Possibly with corn or other thick mashes, but I believe that many distilleries don't ferment on the grain - let alone distill on it.

With Barley most folks sparge and ferment OFF the grain. With corn though I can see how it could be an advantage.

If possible fit your steam wand or injector AFTER fermentation. If you ferment with it already in place you are virtually certain to block it.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:45 am

IMHO
The steam injector must be easily removed for cleaning. And if it's in the mash the steam should be on.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:59 am

I've been thinking about building a proto type steam generator based on this idea.
Waiting for 15 gallons of water to boil in my keg still takes too long, I'd like to have steam on demand.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by DeepSouth » Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:13 pm

shadylane wrote:I've been thinking about building a proto type steam generator based on this idea.
Waiting for 15 gallons of water to boil in my keg still takes too long, I'd like to have steam on demand.
I looked at your proposed diagram and started giving it a little bit of thought and tried to crunch some ballpark numbers for sizing and performance. If your tube section that held the heating element was 2" in diameter and had a liquid level of 20", the volume of water to heat is almost exactly 1 liter. The 5500 W heating elements at Home Depot, Camco Brand, are about 16" long, so you would have 4" of water above the top of the element. Now, if you heated it with 5500 W, you could bring that 1 L volume up to a boil and start producing steam in almost exactly 1 minute. Also, at 5500 W of input heat, you would be driving off about 150 mL per minute in steam production, so you would need the same volumetric flow rate of makeup water.

Here comes the tricky part. At full power, you are removing roughly 15% of your total water volume per minute. The incoming colder water will absorb heat that would otherwise be used to produce steam. The incoming water feed needs to be constant, and directly proportional to the amount of power that is applied. A float switch could possibly work, and may behave similarly to when your toilet "runs". The float is just barely pulled down and consequently barely opens the valve and lets the proper amount of makeup water to flow in. What you don't want is a float that isn't sensitive enough and causes a surging action. Whatever check valve or float valve gets used, there is more inefficiency with a constant fill system like this than if you had a larger tank and allowed the water to just be boiled off and the liquid level to decrease. I think if you applied 5500 W of at your heating element, the amount of steam that is produced may only be able to impart say 4500-5000W of energy to the contents of the still, due to the heating of the colder makeup water. Another consideration is that the float valve needs to able to handle 212 F water. Another consideration is the long term reliability of a float valve that for our purposes needs to constantly be in a slightly open state.

I'm really intrigued with this idea. I have some 2" pipe and may just try to build one of these.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:23 pm

"Another consideration is that the float valve needs to able to handle 212 F water"

Thought about that at the drunken design stage. The float chamber is separate from the boiler chamber.
The supply water pressure will always be higher than the steam pressure, so the steam will not backup into the float chamber.
In other words the float chamber will be filled with cold water and could be made out of PVC or even clear vinyl tubing.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:19 pm

This is very interesting. I have been following these steam threads as I tend to try strange gooey mashes that don't lend themselves to sparging. Thanks for posting, guys. :thumbup:
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by Brutal » Tue Jan 06, 2015 7:28 pm

Another version of a steam generator/superheater is basically a housing with a torch flame in it, and a coil of copper tubing that you force water through. I have no idea how to regulate it. It can be used to "superheat" steam. Steam at temperatures higher than 212 is "superheated" and will be much less likely to condense on it's way to your mash. It can carry more heat power than 212 steam can per gram. It's also equally more dangerous. For now I'm just going to boil the keg. Another hour in the garage is just a little piece of heaven.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Thu Jan 08, 2015 2:00 pm

I found a bunch of good info on another site, now I have to figure out how to link to it.
Here it is https://www.stilldragon.org/discussion/ ... nerator/p1" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" rel="nofollow

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Thu Jan 08, 2015 3:36 pm

This might be a simpler way of doing it.
Looks like under $50 for the valve, controller and the probe.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by Jacksonbrown » Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:44 pm

Two issues I can see with that design are -

1. Feeding it mains water is going to result in a lot of build up/scale in there, especially on your probe.

2. the boil would be quite vigorous so your level sensor is unlikely to function very well.

A sight glass with a proximity switch would be a better, albeit more expensive, solution and would give visual confirmation too.

I was playing with something similar a while back and the roaring element played with pressures and made things flow in unanticipated ways.
The programing would be more complicated but you really need your controller taking care of the element too.

A simple on/off putting cold water in is not going to give consistent steam. You want a constant stream.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by Tater » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:32 pm

if heat is constant couldn't
you simply use a water gate valve and by trial and error adjust the flow?
I use a pot still.Sometimes with a thumper

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by Jacksonbrown » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:52 pm

Trail and error?
You either flood the system or burn out the element?
What happens when your water pressure fluctuates?
A needle valve would be a much better idea for the method you're suggesting but the method itself is flawed.
The real word is variable. The system needs to be able to adapt.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:41 am

Edited and deleted because my quote didn't work
Last edited by shadylane on Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:47 am

Jacksonbrown wrote:Two issues I can see with that design are -

1. Feeding it mains water is going to result in a lot of build up/scale in there, especially on your probe.

2. the boil would be quite vigorous so your level sensor is unlikely to function very well.
I can see scale being a problem on a real steam generator, but probably not on a boiler that's used a couple hours at a time, at a time. The vigorous boiling is probably why all the similar designs I've found have been using a separate chamber for the feed water

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by myles » Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:55 am

Don't forget that you need a vapour pressure line to equalize the headspace in the boiler to the headspace in the supply reservoir. This means steam gets into the top of the reservoir.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by RandyMarshCT » Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:08 am

Doesn't Manu sell something similar to this? I could be mistaken.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by jedneck » Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:12 am

Could you use 2" for the steam generator with 3 or 4" around it to preheat the incoming water. I will try to post a drawing later when I get home.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by S-Cackalacky » Fri Jan 09, 2015 6:58 am

Does anyone here have any experience with the simple steam injection method? I'm wondering about how much the water level drops in the boiler from start to finish of a run. That is, is there a real concern about having to replenish the water in the boiler during a run? Or, is it just a matter of assuring that you have a good level of water at the beginning of the run, so that you're not exposing your element or running dry?

Just seems that we should determine if there is really an issue before looking for ways to resolve it. I'm sure there are a lot of scenarios to consider - pot still or reflux, steam boiler size compared to cooker size, etc. It could be just a matter of the size of the two vessels, or it may turn out to be not much of an issue at all.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by shadylane » Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:07 am

Honestly,
I don't think there's a logical reason for building a steam generator.
But that won't stop me from trying.

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Re: Steam distillation

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Fri Jan 09, 2015 7:40 am

shadylane wrote:Honestly,
I don't think there's a logical reason for building a steam generator.
But that won't stop me from trying.
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Re: Steam distillation

Post by Lazarus Long » Fri Jan 09, 2015 8:07 am

S-Cackalacky wrote:Does anyone here have any experience with the simple steam injection method? I'm wondering about how much the water level drops in the boiler from start to finish of a run. That is, is there a real concern about having to replenish the water in the boiler during a run? Or, is it just a matter of assuring that you have a good level of water at the beginning of the run, so that you're not exposing your element or running dry?
No system we design is going to be 100% efficient, therefore I think one could calculate the amount of water to be boiled off based on the energy input with respect to time. Whatever is calculated will be a larger number than what actually is evaporated as steam because of the inherent system losses. Of course, if you run an internal element you would get closer to your theoretical number than someone that is cooking on a Natural gas burner (more source energy lost to the atmosphere than an internal element).

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