Packing the T500 reflux column

Reflux still design and discussion

Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Sat Nov 17, 2018 7:28 pm

G’day all. As some of you may have read I recently had my second experience of a puking T500. Once may have been an accident, twice was not acceptable. So I have done some research and with the valuable support of forum members I believe I have found a solution. So here is what I have done and in about a week I will be giving myself a clap or sneaking off with tail between legs.

Puking apparently happens when the T500 can’t reflux, accumulates a quantity of liquid in the column and then pukes it out through the alcohol tube. With help I discovered that I had far too much “stuff” packed in the column. I wanted copper, lots of copper to extract nasties from the ethanol and make it excellent spirit. So I packed my column with copper saddles, just copper saddles.

I had completely forgotten that it is only the surface of the copper, to a depth of a few atoms, that I needed to do my task and the rest of the copper saddles is just unwanted packing. It is this useless packing that made the T500 puke. So how to keep the copper surface area and reduce the packing?

COPPER MESH from Five Star Distilling of course. So below is a diagram of how my T500 column is now packed. This has given me a 25% reduction in column packing so allowing a much better flow of the all-important vaporised alcohol and an amazing increase of 210% in the surface of copper inside the column.
I will keep you posted.

Image
Last edited by The Stig on Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Fix pic
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby The Stig » Sat Nov 17, 2018 8:00 pm

I fixed the pic link for you :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Doubleuj » Sun Nov 18, 2018 7:55 am

Awesome job arismac :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Sun Nov 18, 2018 12:39 pm

Thanks "WJ" but I afraid I only pinched and modified the diagram with PhotoShop. I used it because it is a good representation of how the reflux still works.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Doubleuj » Sun Nov 18, 2018 4:10 pm

I reckon it backs up what I’ve been saying about not over packing perfectly and illustrates it just as well :handgestures-thumbupleft:
If you don’t mind I would like to add a link to this thread to my “running a t500 the proper way” thread
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Sun Nov 18, 2018 4:46 pm

With pleasure kind sir and while I am here I found this which really supports the use of copper mesh.

Yeasts release sulphur when they’re doing their business. In a non-copper still, that sulphur stays with the liquid. With copper, the sulphur molecules bind with the copper, making hydrogen-sulfide, which becomes copper sulfate. The copper sulfate remains in the still rather than going out with the liquid, and is then cleaned out when the still is cleaned.

Removing the sulphur compounds allows the fruity-smelling esters (organic compounds that can give off recognizable aromas) to shine through in the finished spirit. The more interaction with copper, the more sulphur compounds are handled.


With thanks to https://vinepair.com/
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Thu Nov 29, 2018 1:41 pm

First run since re-packing the column and the improvement in quality is quite amazing. Sulphur levels reduced by over 80%, even the heads, which I shall not use, were quite low on sulphur smell. Thanks again for the very good advice and the Cu mesh.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby The Stig » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:53 pm

That’s awesome news Arismac
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Rolls912 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:21 pm

Another question, why not use copper saddles and copper mesh instead of ss saddles with copper mesh?
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Doubleuj » Fri Nov 30, 2018 10:48 pm

You certainly could use all copper, but you really don’t need that much copper. A small amount of copper in the upward vapour path is enough.
My stainless glasser only has copper bubble cap plates and I don’t have any Sulfur problem
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby scythe » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:54 am

If you can get copper saddles easier or cheaper than stainless ones go for it.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:47 pm

Copper, even mesh, is certainly generally more expensive than SS but the copper pieces are often smaller. I thought that this just might lead to blocking in section "A" in the above diagram. So I decided to make sure the vapour past through the copper before reaching the coil of the condenser. So far the theory seems to be holding in practice.

It might also be difficult to remove copper mesh from the column for cleaning/renewal past the point where the water in and alcohol out plumbing is fixed to the column. The design would have been much better without the internal nut, or whatever, which makes loading and unloading the mesh a rather demanding task. This would have provided an obstruction free surface to the interior of the column. I fed a piece of hard drawn copper wire coil through the mesh and formed a hook, before pushing it into the column but it is still far from ideal.
Last edited by Arismac on Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:56 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Rolls912 » Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:30 pm

Andrews copper mesh arrived this week.
I tried the aforementioned setup today along with my new voltage controller. Chopped it down to 210V.
The alcohol I used was from a TPW, 1x pot, 1x reflux , I carbon filtered.
Came out like s%#t :angry-banghead:
Don’t know what I’ve done on the pack but she ain’t no good. Cleaned everything with citric.
The sulphur is back with a vengeance. I dont understand how it can reappear. Perhaps I’m dreaming it.
The T500 really is an annoying turd of a machine - lol
Anyway, back to the drawing board.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Sam. » Sun Dec 09, 2018 10:26 pm

How fast are you running it?
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Tue Dec 11, 2018 6:58 pm

G'day Sam, have also added a water pressure buffer bottle which has kept the temperate ><1.5 60 degrees for the entire run. I did not have to tweek the needle valve at all.

I have also double stilled my last two washes after combing into one and adding 60/40 distilled water and am really quite proud of the final result. It is by far and away the best I have produced. Because I have restricted mobility I use essences with the T500 spirit, instead of making my own mash formulas.

The "waste" water was on the nose and cloudy so a lot of impurities were removed on the second run. Thanks Andrew.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:06 pm

Rolls912 wrote:Andrews copper mesh arrived this week.
I tried the aforementioned setup today along with my new voltage controller. Chopped it down to 210V.
The alcohol I used was from a TPW, 1x pot, 1x reflux , I carbon filtered.
Came out like s%#t :angry-banghead:
Don’t know what I’ve done on the pack but she ain’t no good. Cleaned everything with citric.
The sulphur is back with a vengeance. I dont understand how it can reappear. Perhaps I’m dreaming it.
The T500 really is an annoying turd of a machine - lol
Anyway, back to the drawing board.


Try removing the top roll of mesh or loosen the roles by shortening the length of copper mesh in the roll. You sound as though you may have packed the column too tightly. I used about a third of the supplied roll spread between the three rolls in the condenser column.
Last edited by Arismac on Tue Dec 11, 2018 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Rolls912 » Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:15 pm

Okay sure. I did follow your formula using a scale. I must admit I had packed in the mesh hard to get it to fit. I’ll give it a go.

Cheers
Last edited by Rolls912 on Tue Dec 11, 2018 8:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:29 pm

I am the first to admit that there is a very fine line between perfectly packed and too much. This just the nature of the beast, I'm afraid. It has taken me several adjustments to get it right. The good news is, as I mentioned above, a very good quality spirit. I am willing to bet that everyone who tries my figures will possibly need to tweek a little, usually less than more.

I did try a voltage regulator but it did not help, however the "buffer tank" certainly has made driving the T500 a whole lot easier.
Last edited by Arismac on Wed Dec 12, 2018 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Arismac » Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:09 pm

A mate of mine has just phoned to say he as tweeked my column packing as follows:

Image

This makes a lot of sense especially when it comes to removing the mesh for cleaning. It especially overcomes the problem of getting the mesh past the plumbing fitting inside the column. He tells me has about 350 grms in the copper mesh spiral. The total copper area is about the same as mine and he has produced a very acceptable spirit on the first run. Worth a try ...
Last edited by Arismac on Wed Dec 12, 2018 1:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Packing the T500 reflux column

Postby Vultch » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:52 am

Hi.
I am pretty keen to try this however no mention of what abv the still is producing using this method.

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