Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Perforated & bubble cap plated columns

Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Sam. » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:25 am

If your confident that you wash ABV is what you think it is I would check for leaks to start with.

Then I would try bringing your collection rate down to 2 litres per hour and having a constant temp water source for your cooling.

Running a plated column too hard will make it start behaving like a pot still :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:54 am

I'm going to read up on leaks and do some testing. However, another couple details have come to mind. Does a bubble plate still need to be perfectly vertical? I put the boiler on my deck and looking at the column of plates it is probably tilted by around 3-5 degrees. Do I need to get a very flat base with a level & shims?

And it's a long shot, but do the plates need a special arrangement in the SG's? I just put them in with 5x caps up + 1x cap down, but haven't paid attention to lining them up, relative to each other, in any manner. Meaning #1 might be horizontally rotated 90 deg from #2, #2 rotated 90 deg from #3, etc.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby bluc » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:57 am

Downcommers should be opposite to each other. I would think the more level the boiler is the better but not sure how crucial.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby db1979 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:01 pm

I think plated stills could be run off vertical so long as the plate still has a fluid bath and the upcoming vapour is forced to bubble through the bath. If it's off vertical so badly that a vapour path exists that does not pass through the bath then you'll have nothing but a hybrid pot still and a number of vapour pools in the column that don't do anything. Best having it as vertical as is practical to achieve. My plates are soldered in and I can't guarantee that they are perfectly horizontal (I can't see the middle two), but they hold a fluid bath and I get 91 to 92 % abv from 4 plates.

I still think your problem is more to do with your cooling water temperature stability.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby woodduck » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:20 pm

To me if the dropping in % is not a wash problem it must be a reflux problem (more reflux means higher % alc) but not sure which one, leaking or not enough rc cooling. If his lph alcohol output doesn't change how can cooling water be affecting it? The reflux in the still is governed by the power input and the rc cooling. If the power stays the same but the cooling warms up there will be less reflux yes but only because the rc will be letting more vapor past it just like turning the rc tap off. I just don't think warm water would be enough to have this affect unless it is really warm, if I'm running on 2400w I need to have my rc nearly off (1/4 of a turn on a gate valve max) before I get any output to my parrot.

But in saying all this maybe his lph have jumped a bit without him noticing it?

Are you having to adjust your rc all the time through the run?

I would be checking my plates for leaks first as it's the simplest one to test :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby bluc » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:26 pm

I didnt think wash abv affected collection abv I always assume dropping abv to be a leak or cooling water temp increase.. but I dont have my bubbler yet so what do I know..
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby db1979 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:44 pm

woodduck wrote:But in saying all this maybe his lph have jumped a bit without him noticing it?


I think this is highly likely. Like you said increasing cooling water temp will increase collection rate but if it's happening gradually over time it would be hard to notice unless the times between collection jars has been recorded.

I like to run mine nice and slow and I find a noticeable drop in collection rate as the run progresses towards tails. If my cooling water temp was to increase it would negate this slowing and it would instead be more constant.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby woodduck » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:47 pm

Your right bluc, the only reason I origanally mentioned wash was because borneogoat is new to the hobby (please don't take offence to this born) and maybe the wash was low in abv and the alc had been depleated quickly and he may have been well into tails and not noticed. % would eventually drop even if in high reflux, I would imagine, I've never gone that far into tails in reflux but would make sence if it did. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby woodduck » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:48 pm

db1979 wrote:
woodduck wrote:But in saying all this maybe his lph have jumped a bit without him noticing it?


I think this is highly likely. Like you said increasing cooling water temp will increase collection rate but if it's happening gradually over time it would be hard to notice unless the times between collection jars has been recorded.

I like to run mine nice and slow and I find a noticeable drop in collection rate as the run progresses towards tails. If my cooling water temp was to increase it would negate this slowing and it would instead be more constant.


Yep following you now, sorry for the confusion
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Tue Nov 28, 2017 2:52 pm

woodduck wrote:To me if the dropping in % is not a wash problem it must be a reflux problem (more reflux means higher % alc) but not sure which one, leaking or not enough rc cooling. If his lph alcohol output doesn't change how can cooling water be affecting it? The reflux in the still is governed by the power input and the rc cooling. If the power stays the same but the cooling warms up there will be less reflux yes but only because the rc will be letting more vapor past it just like turning the rc tap off. I just don't think warm water would be enough to have this affect unless it is really warm, if I'm running on 2400w I need to have my rc nearly off (1/4 of a turn on a gate valve max) before I get any output to my parrot.

But in saying all this maybe his lph have jumped a bit without him noticing it?

Are you having to adjust your rc all the time through the run?

I would be checking my plates for leaks first as it's the simplest one to test :handgestures-thumbupleft:


I'm leaning towards an unnoticed leak(s) being possible. The LPH of my product is not changing and once my needle valve is in the sweet spot, the flow is steady. No fiddling with the RC valve unless the weather changes significantly. I use the lap timer on my phone to keep track of the flow: 320ml mark on my jars take about 8min normally (2.4 LPH). I also tried slowing things down to 320ml = 10min = 1.9 LPH. The slower rate increased the ABV, but only marginally and the effect faded after a jar or two. My cooling water last run started at 13C with a few bags of ice. By the end I had used 10x bags, most of the run was around 16-19C, and ended around 22C. All temps mentioned are the general temp of my reservoir, as opposed to the temp of my condenser outflows.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby A&O » Tue Nov 28, 2017 3:02 pm

Could putting the still into full reflux when abc starts dropping for 10-20min then adjusting rc to desired output rate help?
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Lowie » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:02 pm

If you're RC water is warming up and your heat input remains unchanged, this will definitely affect your abv as your essentially moving into pot still territory. To alleviate this problem I use a controller once the pot is up to temperature (I effectively turn my wattage down by over a third). This has a two fold effect for me. 1. Less wattage means cheaper to run, less water used means cheaper to run too. - less water also means it doesn't get as hot too which sounds like our problem. You could try a simple experiment by buying a cheaply controller off Fleabay (reckon I've seen them for a round $20). Cheers.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:06 pm

Lowie wrote:If you're RC water is warming up and your heat input remains unchanged, this will definitely affect your abv as your essentially moving into pot still territory. To alleviate this problem I use a controller once the pot is up to temperature (I effectively turn my wattage down by over a third). This has a two fold effect for me. 1. Less wattage means cheaper to run, less water used means cheaper to run too. - less water also means it doesn't get as hot too which sounds like our problem. You could try a simple experiment by buying a cheaply controller off Fleabay (reckon I've seen them for a round $20). Cheers.


This was on my consideration list too! Seems that Other Company with a Big Lizard makes a power controller kit for $50. I've got sparkies at work that will help me put it together...
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Lowie » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:21 pm

Borneogoat wrote:
Lowie wrote:If you're RC water is warming up and your heat input remains unchanged, this will definitely affect your abv as your essentially moving into pot still territory. To alleviate this problem I use a controller once the pot is up to temperature (I effectively turn my wattage down by over a third). This has a two fold effect for me. 1. Less wattage means cheaper to run, less water used means cheaper to run too. - less water also means it doesn't get as hot too which sounds like our problem. You could try a simple experiment by buying a cheaply controller off Fleabay (reckon I've seen them for a round $20). Cheers.


This was on my consideration list too! Seems that Other Company with a Big Lizard makes a power controller kit for $50. I've got sparkies at work that will help me put it together...


Save yourself some dough mate: https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/4000W-Power ... SwiONYPNZM
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby PeterC » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:08 pm

I got one of these already built. Works fine. Just used a UK power plug to AU adaptor because it fits in the socket much better based on advice from this forum.
https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/220V-4000W- ... 361f9d473c
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Borneogoat » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:14 am

PeterC wrote:I got one of these already built. Works fine. Just used a UK power plug to AU adaptor because it fits in the socket much better based on advice from this forum.
https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/220V-4000W- ... 361f9d473c


I found those last night and was wondering about them. Glad to hear it works well, I've now got one on the way!
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby db1979 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:19 am

Another suggestion to maintain constant temp for cooling water is to use the garden hose for your RC since it just runs at a trickle, then run your PC on your 240 L bin. While it's nice to have your PC at a nice cool temp for your parrot, it's not essential (so long as it's not coming out above 40 degrees C). Constant temp for RC is far more important. The extra water use in the garden hose will also be far cheaper than bags of ice.

I think ezitasting uses this approach.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby bluc » Tue Jan 16, 2018 7:00 pm

Wondering when bleeding off the fores once they are finished does output stop? Or do we collect the usual fores cut by volume ? Does output rate change between heads hearts tails? Guessing no cause mac says dont touch the rc... :-B
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby woodduck » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:29 pm

No the output won't stop, it would run like that the whole way if you wanted. Go by volume, this process pretty much just gives the colomn time to stack and seperate properly. The output should not change through the run once set until tails where it does slow slightly.
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Re: Running a Plated Column. the easy way

Postby Doubleuj » Tue Jan 16, 2018 8:29 pm

I reckon every still will be different, because of your particular build, ie rc height etc, so there wouldn’t be a set rules. Run your still and find the sweet spot.
I still collect and discard 100-200ml of fores before taking the first cut jar
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