Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Boiler, burner and boiler modification talk.

Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Dancing4dan » Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:25 am

Over the last months work has been moving ahead on a steam distillation setup for doing stripping runs. After doing a vinegar run and a cleaning run with left over heads the first actual distillation run was yesterday.

Goals of steam distillation were to minimize movement and transfer of mash, fermentation and distillation from different vessels and locations. To mash, ferment and distill stripping runs in same vessel. To move away from mashing and fermenting in BIAB, Straining and squeezing. Those goals are accomplished.

System consists of a 50L keg, 80L anvil brew pot, 240 V 4500 w element, PWM controller. Propane assist heat.

Top of the keg has a pressure relief valve of my own design similar to a pressure cooker. It uses weights in the form of bearings. The manometer is polycarbonate that will get trimmed after a few more runs.

Anvil pot lid gets sealed with a self made Teflon gasket and the Anvil silicone gasket over that as a safety backup.

Stripped a 55L mash yesterday with an additional 5L tails. Stripped off 22.5 L .

The steam added a significant amount of water to the pot. Ended up with 65L after stripping run was finished. I believe this can be addressed by adding insulation, and adding propane assist to heat once steam starts “stirring” the grains. This will use less steam/water and prevent scorching. I hope. There is also the ability to add a stir mechanism through another 2” ferrule on the lid.

It was very cold and a lot of energy was lost through the bottom of the pot although everything was wrapped with blankets except the bottom of pot and boiler.

Boiler worked great. Pressure relief worked, manometer worked, new condenser knocked down everything with element running at 100% stripping rate was at 8L / hour..


Cleanup of the spent grain and water was easier than straining a BIAB and the mop squeeze routine :D
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equipment: Pot still modular design that can use a beer keg or a 70 L SS pot. Steam distillation in development.

Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby bluc » Mon Apr 12, 2021 10:37 am

Sure would make life less messy going this way..

Good to see you got all your safety devices in place :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby RC Al » Mon Apr 12, 2021 7:44 pm

Nice manometer man :handgestures-thumbupleft:

With that removable top, you could get a more complex steam head into the pot and get some directional flow going with the steam to stir it up better :think:

What abv was the 22 litres? I havent tried just water in the feed boiler yet, but with mine there was much less xfered by running cleared wash in the feed boiler. The extra propane heating is a good idea, a bit seat of the pants, but you only live once right?
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Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Dancing4dan » Mon Apr 12, 2021 8:44 pm

Thanks for looking in guys.

Because collection is done in 4.5L glass jugs I don’t get an overall ABV. Collected until the ABV was about10% at the end of distillation. First jug was 60%.

Directional flow steam head is an interesting idea.

Couple options on propane burners. I have a large banjo burner with large surface area flame that can be idled down low. The pot I has a pretty thick bottom with laminated layers. Once steam is rolling I could probably push it.

Here is how the pressure relief works. The copper outlet has been ground to seal on the first ball. Everything else is weight and containment. Going to close it in now that I know it works. Will get topped off with a stack of weights instead of a second ball that can be added or removed as needed.
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equipment: Pot still modular design that can use a beer keg or a 70 L SS pot. Steam distillation in development.

Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby RC Al » Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:41 pm

It would be dangerously hot steam exiting that valve if it goes off, you mentioned enclosing it, perhaps consider a way to direct it away safely? - I can imagine it exiting in a rather dramatic fashion. I assume you tried blocking your tube on purpose at a safe distance to see what happens, chances are you wouldn't want to be close to it when it vents lols.

What was the abv of each jug and aprox volume? just some math from there
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Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Dancing4dan » Tue Apr 13, 2021 11:56 am

Hey RC, I should shoot som video of the relief valve going open. It really isn’t to bad at all. It comes on fairly tamely. There is no pop or puff. Just starts bi passing steam and builds the longer it goes.

To do the average proof as you requested I tested each “gallon” jug... after measuring the actual L each jug holds... They are American gallons. My apologies! They are filled to 3.5L each X 5 jugs = 17.5L metric at an average of 33 ABV. :ugeek:

Volume measures in Canada are challenging. Imperial gallons, American gallons and litres metric. And we sell whiskey in 750 ml bottles... or 26 fluid ounces. :angry-banghead:
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equipment: Pot still modular design that can use a beer keg or a 70 L SS pot. Steam distillation in development.

Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby bluc » Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:26 pm

We used to. I want my 50ml back :twisted: oh wait I dont buy spirits anymore :laughing-rolling:
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Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Amberale » Tue Apr 13, 2021 5:57 pm

Yep US/Imperial gallons and ounces, liters etc.
PITA.
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Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Dancing4dan » Wed May 12, 2021 4:02 am

A second run and done.

There was about 25L trub From a 75L of corn/ oat / barley mash hat was run through the steam still. Took off 5.5 L low wines. Corn and oats seems to make huge trub. The steam allows me to recover ethanol from the waste trub.

Everything worked real well. I used water in the boiler too distill the trub because I will be comparing the low wines from the trub to the Low wines from the cleared mash.
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equipment: Pot still modular design that can use a beer keg or a 70 L SS pot. Steam distillation in development.

Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Dancing4dan » Fri Jul 02, 2021 3:19 am

Have run this rig a couple times now with no concerns or issues. Used the big pot a couple runs and used a keg a couple times. It is important to have the steam line going uphill from the boiler to the still pot or to much water will move over.

The steam pressure relief valve has worked very well. No issues. Works just like an old fashioned pressure cooker relief valve.

The manometer works well. Gives clear indication of steam pressure and functions as a pressure relief.

Have not had a blockage that produced enough pressure to force the relief valve open or force steam / liquid through the manometer. Manually blocking the steam arm or the condenser makes the relief valve start to bypass. The electric controller has a shut off switch to kill the heat and stopped stem production immediately.

Steam has allowed distilling on the grain giving recovery of ethanol I would otherwise loose. Clean up is more of a PITA because it is harder to dispose of the back set that is full of grain. Back set with no grain goes down the toilet. Back set with grain still needs to be strained and the grain disposed of or be willing to give away a few pails to the garbage truck. Have done both.

Electric to heat the boiler side and propane to help get the still pot up to temperature. Then electric steam takes over.

It has puked a couple time when over filled and once when I had steam arm going down hill, but because I use this only for stripping runs it does not really matter as far as product. Spirit runs are done in pot still mode with a copper packed 2” column.

Have not seen any negative impact on product flavour. Probably because it is stripping run only with steam and everything gets distilled again in pot still mode.

Thanks for looking.
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Location: Alberta Canada
equipment: Pot still modular design that can use a beer keg or a 70 L SS pot. Steam distillation in development.

Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Wellsy » Fri Jul 02, 2021 6:22 am

Good to hear it is working for you Dan
I hope you are staying safe with the heat and fires you guys are going through over there
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Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Dancing4dan » Sat Jul 03, 2021 5:51 am

Wellsy wrote:Good to hear it is working for you Dan
I hope you are staying safe with the heat and fires you guys are going through over there


We are just climbing out of this heatwave. Hope to get a little rain next few days. We watered trees to keep them alive but it looks like even the dandelions took a beating on my lawn!

So far we have no major fires ne’er us but that can change any minute.
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Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2021 12:45 pm
Location: Alberta Canada
equipment: Pot still modular design that can use a beer keg or a 70 L SS pot. Steam distillation in development.

Re: Steam Distillation first run and impressions

Postby Wellsy » Sat Jul 03, 2021 6:08 am

We all know how quickly fires can change mate.thoughts are with you.

Stay safe. Oh and happy belated Canada Day
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