Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Perforated & bubble cap plated columns

Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Sam. » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:52 am

You definitely should see clear liquid "bubbling" on the plates.

If you see coloured wash start "foaming" up from the bottom plate heading upwards that is a puke. If your watching your still you should easily catch it on the first or second plate, back into full reflux and it will clean itself up :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:00 am

Cheers Sam, that sounds like what I experienced. I'll just turn the 2nd heater off sooner.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby robduca » Sun Aug 06, 2017 6:15 pm

There are some washes I find you need to shut the second heating element off earlier to prevent puking. Rum and all grain washes are the 2 worst offenders I have encountered. Running a single malt all grain right now and didn't shut the second element off soon enough. Foamed up in my first sight glass, so full reflux for a bit longer than normal to clear it up and all good to go.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:56 am

I have a FSD Nuetralizer and have been using this thread as my goto reference for running it. After my 4th run this weekend, I've encountered the same problem 3x times (3x different wash recipes, but same process/problem). My run starts around 94% when I start collecting product. I toss the foreshots (300ml) and then collect in 300ml volumes thereafter. Heads is about jar #1 to #4 or #5, so 1.2L to 1.5L of heads approximately. Then the product starts smelling and tasting quite clean, so hearts have arrived. I'm still around 93-94%. It is my understanding that the ABV% should stay steady through the hearts, then drop a few % when the tails arrive. How much tails to keep is dependent on spirit type and personal preference.

But this is how things are working for me. The product usually starts dropping ABV% around jar #7/8 and steadily drops 1-3% each 300mls until I stop the still. Much of this product tastes good, until around #20. But I suspect I'm probably smearing the hearts and tails together, which I think defeats the purpose of having bubble plate still.

I've encountered this problem using 4x plates & no packing and also 5x plates with packing. I've got a 240L cooling tank, powerful pond pump (Aquapro 3000, 3000LPH, 3m head) with short cooling hoses, and a needle valve to control the RC. I've added ice each time to the cooling water and I have a better time controlling the flow with water temps below 18C. I do sometimes get a little vapor/product that seems to sneak past the RC, ending up in the collection jar, when the water is warmer. I can't think of way to get yet colder water in my tank without using even more of ice. I've used 10 bags the last two runs and the ice cost more than the ingredients in the wash!

Any ideas?
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby woodduck » Mon Nov 27, 2017 11:42 am

Does your lph increase with the drop in % if not it's not your cooling water. 18c is cold as hell, so no probs there. Not sure what the problem is though sorry.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:01 pm

woodduck wrote:Does your lph increase with the drop in % if not it's not your cooling water. 18c is cold as hell, so no probs there. Not sure what the problem is though sorry.


I think you're asking if the flow of my product from the parrot increases as the ABV drops, correct? Nope. My product flow is steady, always 2.5LPH or less. Last night I slowed it way down, hoping to solve my problem, to about 1.8LPH. Didn't solve my issue.

I did have an interesting unintended experience yesterday. A quick rain storm flashed through, wind and bucketing rain. The still is undercover, but near the edge of the roofed area. Cool wind lashed the still and some sideways rain sprinkled the boiler. This cooled everything down enough that the parrot stopped producing. I didn't notice for a few minutes, because of all the noise and distraction. While it stopped the ABV went back up and took a couple jars to return to the previous lower ABV. This also produced some cleaner product: completely clear and no whitish cloudy iridescence like I seem to get in the later tails. Not sure if that is relevant...
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Professor Green » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:06 pm

Collection rate maybe? I get that sort of behavior if I try to push it too hard.

A power controller to slow the boil down a little might improve things for you.

Maybe you could do a run with water direct from the tap? I know it wastes water but it's worth it to eliminate your cooling set up. I would also use a much larger cooling reservoir for a recirculating system. Cooling the condenser water with ice is less than ideal.

Cheers,
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:22 pm

I was contemplating a power controller. I've got 2400W on a 100L boiler with an 80L wash, which sounds like a common configuration. But I'm running out of ideas in my novice repertoire, so its worth a try...
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Professor Green » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:33 pm

That's pretty much my set up; 100 litre milk can, 2 x 2400W elements and neutraliser on top. Both elements on until the boiler comes up to temp and then down to one element for the remainder of the run until tails hit and when they do, both elements and no reflux until I get bored with collecting tails.

I run my cooling water from the tap (topping up the swimming pool from the condenser outputs so as to not waste too much water) and it runs just like the instructions say provided I don't try and collect too fast.

How are your RC and PC plumbed?

Cheers,
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:05 pm

Professor Green wrote:That's pretty much my set up; 100 litre milk can, 2 x 2400W elements and neutraliser on top. Both elements on until the boiler comes up to temp and then down to one element for the remainder of the run until tails hit and when they do, both elements and no reflux until I get bored with collecting tails.

I run my cooling water from the tap (topping up the swimming pool from the condenser outputs so as to not waste too much water) and it runs just like the instructions say provided I don't try and collect too fast.

How are your RC and PC plumbed?

Cheers,
Prof. Green.


I run the same. Two heaters on start up and shut down one as the plates start loading. I have the input for both condensers running to a Y-fitting and a hose down to the pump. On the RC I have a needle valve to control things. I also have the two outputs from the condensers in a similar arrangement, minus the needle valve. All hoses are just good quality garden hose in that standard diameter most people use for garden purposes. I copied a plumbing arrangement post on this forum, I think MacStill gave the arrangement a thumbs up or maybe it was his idea. Same fitting, hoses with wire braid, etc.

In a perfect world, the missus won't care what I have in the yard, but... So the 240L rubbish bin is the biggest cooling tank I'll have for now.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby woodduck » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:36 pm

I really don't think it's your cooling. If you've got cooling issues your lph would increase because more vapor is getting past the warmer rc, if thats not happening I think it’s wash related. When I turn on my tap to fill a bucket or whatever while running my still the out put spikes and a gush of alcohol pours out my parrot so warmer rc means faster output.

What is your total alc volume output from a wash? Are you getting all the alcohol out of your wash? Maybe tails are there already once this problem starts? Do you check your washs gravity to know the expected alcohol content and is that lining up with what your getting out?
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Professor Green » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:55 pm

Fair enough. I didn't see the post with the flow rates in it.

Cheers,
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:11 pm

woodduck wrote:I really don't think it's your cooling. If you've got cooling issues your lph would increase because more vapor is getting past the warmer rc, if thats not happening I think it’s wash related. When I turn on my tap to fill a bucket or whatever while running my still the out put spikes and a gush of alcohol pours out my parrot so warmer rc means faster output.

What is your total alc volume output from a wash? Are you getting all the alcohol out of your wash? Maybe tails are there already once this problem starts? Do you check your washs gravity to know the expected alcohol content and is that lining up with what your getting out?


To my novice mind, the cooling seems adequate for the job, but I wasn't sure what else to point the finger at! Regarding the washes, I've used 3x tried & true recipes: Odin's Rye Bread Whiskey (2x), Hook Rum, and Ted's FFV. I've followed the recipes closely, no experimenting around. Only changes are scaling up the washes to 80L. Each time I've hit the expected OG and FG, which I'm comfortable with from brewing AG beer. I'm not sure if I've gotten all the ethanol from the wash each time, because when the product starts smelling & tasting unpleasant I stop shortly thereafter.

Example: Yesterday I did Ted's FFV with 14kg sugar + 1kg bran + 80L water. OG spot on, FG less than 1.000 (my hydrometer doesn't measure below 1.000). I dumped 320ml foreshots and from memory I collected 6.4L from heads + hearts + tails. Stopped in the low 50's ABV because it started to smell/taste bad. My calcs say 14kg sugar made up to 80L = 10.3%. Which is about 8.24L total EtOH. I saved 6.4L + 0.32 discarded fores = 6.7L. 6.7/8.24 = 81 %. And I have no idea if that is a good result...

Regarding flow rates, from the parrot I was collecting 1.8LPH on the above example. If you mean the cooling flow rate, the 3000LPH pump was at 100% before throttling by the needle valve.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby woodduck » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:17 pm

The lph (litres per hour) I'm referring to is the alcahol out the parrot. I don't use flow meters for my water so can't help there sorry. My cooling water is on flat out and I adjust the tap on my rc.

Your gravitys seem good so they're not the problem. What your getting out might be slightly low, maybe? What is the abv of the combined alcahol you got out, you mentioned you were taking spirit right down to 50% so if the % of the combined spirit is say 75-80% then I would say your not getting it all but it makes it hard to tell because the stills not running right and you haven't stripped the tails. So still unsure here.

I'm wondering if it's not refluxing properly or has a leak somewhere? Are the downcomers pouring a good stream, more than the stream from your parrot? Should be nearly twice the size if not more? Do you have lots of bubbles on your plates? Are all the plates bubbling evenly? You maybe having this problem?

viewtopic.php?f=17&t=11392#p197495
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby EziTasting » Mon Nov 27, 2017 8:35 pm

I don't believe this is a running issue either!

Even when our still (4' glasses) leaks, we don't seem to have issues with dropping ABV right from the get-go.And your water temp @ 18 degrees is wonderful!! ours sits at near 30-40 degrees and it works fine!

NB: if your concerned with the cooling (I don't think you have an issue here!) separate the RC form the PC as they work differently, and we teased some of our SS scrubbers out and pulled them thru the tubes inside the RC so they touch the sides and add additional surface area to the RC for knocking down those vapours! I don't have a power controller, I run with 2 x 2400Watt elements, unplugging he top one once we're at boil...

The only times that happened was when i was having issues while making generations of Macrum and the results varied wildly! So I got to testing the molasses, and the pH, and everything else I could think of (and that was suggested) and it turned out that the molasses was poop!

So, not sure what you do or did when making your washes, but I would start there!

Slowly add the ingredients, recording each one and testing temps & pH as you go... its the only way i got out of the Rum-malarkey ... Sorry, I know you said your accustomed to making AGs and you feel you should have it easy but I feel something is eluding you here, but it aint with your still!

Of corse, this is my opinion, and I'm one of the most opinionated blokes I know! o:-)
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Doubleuj » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:10 pm

I run a mostly homemade glasser with one of macs 4” RCs, I find running slower by controlling water through the rc works best for me. I’d average around 1.5-2L ph output.
Do you have a needle valve for your rc?
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby EziTasting » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:12 pm

:text-+1:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby nuddy » Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:47 pm



:text-+1: To what woodduck said. That links a good start for leaks.

Use water, cap the bottom of your column and completely fill with water to check you don't have an external leak (can leave it for a few hours to be sure), then check how your plates are behaving when they drain with water.

Are your seals fine? No nicks and cuts in them?
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby db1979 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:08 am

Do you add the ice over the course of the run or all in one go at the start? If it's all in one go, what happens to the temperature of your cooling water throughout the run?
If the temperature of the cooling water is not stable and is increasing over the course of the run then your reflux ratio will change as well. If so, your needle valve would need to be adjusted continuously too.

Even if the ice isn't your problem, to save money, get down to your local wreckers and grab a car radiator. Plumb it up so the water runs in the bottom and out the top. You might want to get a 12v transformer that throws out a decent current (mine are 12v, 300 W at 25 amps) rather than run it off of a battery. I have a twin fan radiator (with a transformer for a each fan) and it can run my still for hours without change in temp and off as little as 20 litres of water.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:14 am

Lots of idea, thanks guys. I'll get started reading up on leaks and do a very thorough inspection there. A few people suggested maybe something is going wrong in my wash. I hadn't contemplated that much, because it seems so easy ... but ignoring simple details is a sure way to fudge everything up!

I've made 3x batches of sugar wash and 1x molasses + brown sugar rum. If we ignore the molasses wash, because my molasses could have a low ferment-ability, the sugar washes should be fine. On my sugar washes I used Tried & True recipes from this forum and Home Distiller. Each time I multiplied the ingredients (sugar, water) by 3x or 3.5x to scale the recipes to 80L. 80L seems a good volume for my 100L fermenter and 100L boiler. I dissolve the sugar in hot water, not quite boiling because it takes forever on my undersized burner. I'm reasonably confident that the sugar is dissolving and not sitting in a pile at the bottom of the fermenter. I then top up the hot sugar water with cool tap water to 80L. I check the temp and when below 32C, I give 1min of oxygen via an sintered SS air-stone like I do for homebrew. Then I add an entire tin of Lowan's Baker's yeast. I don't do a re-hydration process, because I figure the 280g of yeast should be enough excess to makeup for some yeast cells dying of osmotic shock. I then ferment in my big blue plastic drum for 2-3wks. Wash temps are between 20-30C. I have always hit my OG and FG, so I assume the fermentation has a good start and complete finish. A couple people mentioned pH, but I haven't measured that or even considered it much. I use soft Hobart tap water and the only adjustments have been a pinch of citric acid if the recipe calls for it. I add a teaspoon or two of DAP. I use about an 1/8th teaspoon of sodium metabisulphite to dechlorinate, when I fill the cool water. My washes have all been active, with krausen, in less than an hour.

Any thing standing out as wrong?
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