I have a fascination with distilling and follow some of the distiller groups. My question is this. If I had a holding tank for the mash and right next to the holding tank at the same level I had something like a condenser or coils installed in a heat box. Only the coils would be heated but because of gravity it would always be at the same level as the holding tank. Lets say the bottom of the coils were 6 inches higher than the bottom of the holding tank. The input feed line would come from the bottom of the holding tank to the bottom of the coils. When I heated the coils would it have equal pressure to go up through the coils and also back into the holding tank from the bottom or would it tend to go upwards through the coils? When it left the coils it would go up through a column that would allow condensed liquids to drain back into the holding tank gradually heating the holding tank.
I’ve read this a couple of times and I’m not really sure what your question is or what you’re trying to do. I’ve built a lot of stills so I can probably point you in a direction.
Not so much what I am trying to do as much as I am wondering how it would work just as I described, Built a few stills myself and just toying with some ideas. Years ago I used to use an a/c evaporator as a condenser and simply run a fan across it intead of cooling with water. That worked fine. This time I am wondering about just heating the liquid in a condenser type apparatus basically so I could use a smaller heat source if it would work.
Ok, so your looking to heat the mash in a heat exchanger so that it’s more efficient than a pot. There have been a couple of commercial attempts but cleaning them becomes difficult particularly if you are distilling on grain. The most efficient way to heat is live steam injection but it obviously has other down sides.
On rereading I think your idea is to start with a storage tank and then move to the heat exchanger and then boil out of the heat exchanger through your column. Basically, at this point you’ve invented the beer well before a continuous column. You will have trouble maintaining a constant level in your heat exchanger without some kind of pump since the pressure will either over run your exchanger initially or you won’t get enough pressure near the end. Ideally you’d want to match the rates and we normally do this with a small controllable pump.
That answers the question, I was hoping to gravity feed from the holding tank but thought it might not work. I was also think of possibly mounting it on something like a teeter totter that would raise the tank side enough to off set the pressure difference needed. It wouldn’t take a lot to regulate that with slight pressure changes ( Under 1" psi)
You could probably rig up something like that. The goal would be to keep the fill line in your heat exchanger constant so you would want you influx and boil off rate to be the same. As you lose head pressure in the beer well your rate would taper off so you could raise it up. It might be easiest to do it with a floating bottom and a spring then as the weight dropped due to it flowing into the condenser the spring would push the system higher. Ideally you would keep the surface level of the beer well constant.
I like that idea of using the weight to regulate the feed position!
I must have been brain dead when I posted this. It was a passing thought completely ignoring the water needs to be replaced as the alcohol boils off.