New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Perforated & bubble cap plated columns

New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby Wik » Mon May 22, 2023 10:27 pm

Hi all

So I picked up a 4" bubbler and its bloody awesome.
It a 50L 2x2400w boiler. 4 plate T glass bubbler. 4" x 100mm packing section. Reduced to 2" for the rest.

So far I have run a trial run, a rum run and a neutral run.
All runs hit the 85% mark for ABV but with the neutral run, I was struggling to go higher, but I am thinking that is as high as it goes with only 4 plates. Is this correct?

I did a trial with my neutral run for the deflag water supply. I run a sump pump (300w bunning ozito) from my pool to my rig over 30m. Both condensers are cold and the deflag can hold a reflux with 1.5 elements on. During the run, it was holding 85-86% steadily. I changed my water supply from pool to the tap of full speed. I readjusted my deflag and my ABV went up to 87-88% BUT the deflag felt warmer. This was due to my pool being colder then my town supply at the moment. So it feels like I need better flow through my rig, does that sound right?

Lastly, I have a longer 2" column I could put on the top, 500mm as opposed to 250mm. If i use that and pack it full of copper mesh or marbles or ceramic thingys, Will that increase my ABV for neutral runs?
I know more plates will help but i will try and use what i got 1st.

thanks in advance all

Wik
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby BigRig » Mon May 22, 2023 10:57 pm

Abv sounds a little low for 4 plates. You should be getting 92-94%. You need more reflux to up the abv.
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby Wellsy » Tue May 23, 2023 6:21 am

Abv should be close to where big rig said. Keep playing with your delag and you will get it sorted. Keep your eye on the plates as well as you will know the deflag is doing its job if you get the top plate to flood and the others not. For me that is an indication that I am refluxing faster than the liquid can drain back down so adjust the water flow to let more vapour past the deflag. Also don’t panic if you are a point or two off the 94 - 92 as on these cold mornings the spirit can come off a lot below the 20 degree calibration of the alcometer.
Might also pay to check your alcometer as sometimes we forget to check the obvious :).
Finally don’t forget to wait 5 mins after water adjustments to allow for effect to take hold, or to drain the parrot so you get a reading of the new spirit and not a mix of what was there.
Apologies if I am telling you how to suck eggs, I can remember what I was like learning my bubbler after knowing my pot still so well.
Have fun and enjoy the journey
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby The Stig » Tue May 23, 2023 7:28 am

Pics ?
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby The Stig » Tue May 23, 2023 8:10 am

If its the Mac4 with 3" product condenser, your going to need a packed section to go below the RC to make a neutral spirit.
Call in one day and we will chat about what youve got and what it can/cant do :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby Wik » Tue May 23, 2023 1:40 pm

IMG20230523054019.jpg


Here is the pic of the setup all.
I played and played with the deflag and the voltage regulator and I just couldn't get the numbers up.

I set the deflag to a half turn and 1 element on only when the plates are fully loaded. This gives me a flow of about 1.5L/hr. I then wind up the voltage regulator on 2nd element to 25%. That got me about 2L/hr.
I played after this with deflag up to 3/4 turn, down to 1/4 turn. Power up, power down. I emptied the parrot every change after I saw a flow change. I'm stumped

Wash was good too. Nice dry TPW with a full stripping run from my 1st test run
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby MattSmith » Tue May 23, 2023 4:06 pm

Move that 100mm section to below the RC and stick a roll of tightly wound copper mesh in there. See how that goes.

If the abv goes up but you still want to more then consider getting another section with more mesh.
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby The Stig » Tue May 23, 2023 5:54 pm

Yea what Matt said , no point having packing above the RC , needs to be below so the mesh is doing it’s thing refluxing
Oh and that 100mm pipe isn’t for packing it’s supposed to be at the base as a spacer off the lid of the boiler .
Last edited by The Stig on Tue May 23, 2023 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby Wik » Tue May 23, 2023 6:52 pm

Thanks team. I think I'm honestly still at a loss for the 7-9 percentage points that I am technically missing. From the comments this far, I should be higher regardless of copper packing yeh?

Another note, my column temp is spot on 173F which is what George from barley & hops bangs on about

I'm right getting my still to full reflux ready to start.
It this point, from what I understand I do the following
- have only 1 element going
- wind back deflag till I get only a drip for foreshots
- adjust 2 element with voltage regulator till desired flow being toothpick stream.
- keep pushing up power as stream slows during run
This gets me 85%

https://photos.app.goo.gl/2PJjBKFnp8HNnDdu5
Vid of mid run
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby RuddyCrazy » Tue May 23, 2023 7:04 pm

Just leave the still in pot still mode to take the foreshots, then put it into reflux until all the plates a fully loaded as this will compress the heads, one the plates are fully loaded bleed of the head portion and throw back into reflux to fully load again.

Then close the RC so a fast drip to toothpick size stream is going and if you are not getting 90+% you have a leak somewhere.

Cheers Bryan
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby The Stig » Tue May 23, 2023 7:21 pm

Like I said yesterday , drop in or call me for a chat .
A 5 minute chat will answer so many more questions than weeks of typing
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby Wik » Tue May 23, 2023 7:49 pm

Thanks all, will do Stig
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby The Stig » Tue May 23, 2023 7:50 pm

:handgestures-thumbupleft:
Chat soon brother
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby nuddy » Sat May 27, 2023 12:41 am

Out of curiosity are those abv % numbers at the parrot, temp corrected?

Not sure what your pool/tap water temps are. Would suspect a 300W sump pump should be adequate flow rate (not sure on pump head capability and actual pump to condenser height) and mains water tap flow should be no issues, but if your tap/pool water is sitting at 25C for example, you aren't gonna be able to cool below that no matter how fast you pump water through it. Also no blockages/kinks, or significant restrictions in you cooling water inlet pipework? You have a single Y piece feeding into both condensers, no blockages on the PC side?

Does the product condenser feel hot to the touch while running (should feel cool along the first 1/3 to 1/2 of its length from where cooling water enters in from the bottom)? A dephleg is a partial condenser, its main purpose is to carry out phase change (during production it needs to condense a portion of the vapour back to a liquid (sending it back down the column as reflux), while the product condenser needs to cool all the vapour back to a cold liquid. If the product condenser is running hot, your out flowing spirit is also hot.

For interest sake, with an alcometer calibrated to 20C.

At 20C, parrot reading 85%, approx true abv% at 85%.
At 25C, parrot reading 85%, approx true abv% at 82.3%
At 30C, parrot reading 85%, approx true abv% at 80.8%.

Could be nothing, but always an easy variable to account for and rule out any issues it may or may not be causing/contributing to.

Random side thoughts:
What abv % were the boiler charges for these runs?

You're running a gate valve on your dephelg to control cooling? If it is, you are going to find it difficult to get reliable consistent flow rates though it, gate valves are very coarse in terms of how fine you can control the flow of water though. Would get finer resolution or control of your water flow running a needle valve, rotometer (flow meter with a needle valve in it) and to a degree a reduced bore ball valve. For example and this is just me making up a comparison between a gate valve and needle valve so these numbers arent accurate but help explain the concept. The flow rate that you can achieve by turning a gate valve open from closed to a 1/5 turn, a needle valve would need to be turned open 1 full turn, which gives you much finer and more control over your flow rate.

Few rums deep and minds wandering, not sure if it helped.
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby Wik » Mon May 29, 2023 10:42 pm

nuddy wrote:Out of curiosity are those abv % numbers at the parrot, temp corrected?

Not sure what your pool/tap water temps are. Would suspect a 300W sump pump should be adequate flow rate (not sure on pump head capability and actual pump to condenser height) and mains water tap flow should be no issues, but if your tap/pool water is sitting at 25C for example, you aren't gonna be able to cool below that no matter how fast you pump water through it. Also no blockages/kinks, or significant restrictions in you cooling water inlet pipework? You have a single Y piece feeding into both condensers, no blockages on the PC side?

Does the product condenser feel hot to the touch while running (should feel cool along the first 1/3 to 1/2 of its length from where cooling water enters in from the bottom)? A dephleg is a partial condenser, its main purpose is to carry out phase change (during production it needs to condense a portion of the vapour back to a liquid (sending it back down the column as reflux), while the product condenser needs to cool all the vapour back to a cold liquid. If the product condenser is running hot, your out flowing spirit is also hot.

For interest sake, with an alcometer calibrated to 20C.

At 20C, parrot reading 85%, approx true abv% at 85%.
At 25C, parrot reading 85%, approx true abv% at 82.3%
At 30C, parrot reading 85%, approx true abv% at 80.8%.

Could be nothing, but always an easy variable to account for and rule out any issues it may or may not be causing/contributing to.

Random side thoughts:
What abv % were the boiler charges for these runs?

You're running a gate valve on your dephelg to control cooling? If it is, you are going to find it difficult to get reliable consistent flow rates though it, gate valves are very coarse in terms of how fine you can control the flow of water though. Would get finer resolution or control of your water flow running a needle valve, rotometer (flow meter with a needle valve in it) and to a degree a reduced bore ball valve. For example and this is just me making up a comparison between a gate valve and needle valve so these numbers arent accurate but help explain the concept. The flow rate that you can achieve by turning a gate valve open from closed to a 1/5 turn, a needle valve would need to be turned open 1 full turn, which gives you much finer and more control over your flow rate.

Few rums deep and minds wandering, not sure if it helped.


Thanks for that Nuddy.
So yeh, I checked the temp at the parrot. 20.1 degrees. I even swapped out for another alcometer
Checked for blockages and internal leaks, all good
My flow wasn't great on sump pump. Moved to tank pump. No difference
Temp from tank was cold
Temp on dephlag is cool at bottom, luke warm near exit and steaming hot for the 1 inch above exit.
As for control, I have a spindal gate valve. I do 1/8th turn increments and 3/8th turn on feels like the sweet spot

I visited 5 star and updated my hoses and got a packing column full of mesh. Only just cracked 90% abv. Should be 94/95 with that setup though

Pic
IMG20230529203521.jpg
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby chipboy » Tue May 30, 2023 7:21 am

Insulate the pot itself, running a still is a lesson on thermodynamics, energy in and energy out.

Heat loss in the pot may be the issue. The less it looses the more goes into boiling and extracting ethanol, the heat loss is then in the column which is what your trying to get. Also should reduce the cost of running it oo.

Just my thoughts.
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby The Stig » Wed May 31, 2023 9:43 am

So, last night we swapped out the RC supplied with still for my known working RC and things improved.
Ill let Wik fill in the details .
It handy living close :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling:
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby Wik » Wed May 31, 2023 7:59 pm

:mad:
The Stig wrote:So, last night we swapped out the RC supplied with still for my known working RC and things improved.
Ill let Wik fill in the details .
It handy living close :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling:


Very very handy living close. Thanks Stig

Yes so after troubleshooting, pondering, drinking, pondering, it came down to 2 things. RC or bubble plate column. Since the still struggled a little holding reflux, decided to try and swap with another and go through the process of elimination.

IMG20230530192123.jpg


Stigs on the left, mine on the right. So as can be seen, there has been some improvements. Stigs RC held better reflux and got my ABV up.

Problem solved, thanks to all involved, especially Stig for putting up with all my texts.

Good community on here, appreciated
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby The Stig » Wed May 31, 2023 8:15 pm

All to happy to help mate :handgestures-thumbupleft:
And I’m glad we got an outcome .
Now, can I have my RC back please :laughing-rolling: :laughing-rolling:
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Re: New 4" plate bubbler. ABV expectations

Postby bluc » Fri Jun 02, 2023 3:45 pm

Interesting blockage in the water path of rc perhaps :-B
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