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I am interested in using a reflux column to increase the purity and quantity of methanol recovered during the methanol recovery stage. I have been looking into a few designs used for ethanol distillation in home-brewing and it seems that a similar design should work for more efficient methanol recovery. Thoughts?

Best,
The Dickinson Biodiesel Crew
(Our boss is Farmer)
 
Location: Dickinson College | Registered: May 30, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I built a 2" diameter copper reflux column and condenser from a set of ethanol condenser plans I found on the web. The reflux column is stuffed with copper pot scrubbers and is about 1 meter long.

The column works great!
 
Location: Illinois | Registered: February 21, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I built one from plans I purchased off the internet as well at http://running_on_alcohol.tripod.com/id3.html.

Not the cheapest device out there but it returns 98-99% methanol. I was able to get the 3" copper tube from a friend and picked up the control valve from a Sullair air compressor heat exchanger I bought off of ebay. The result is nearly hands off operation for hours at time. I do find the need to adjust the heat input about 2x in every 30 gallon batch I distill.

Good luck.

Scott


2000 F250 7.3L Biodiesel
2006 Jetta TDI Biodiesel
4.5 kW Grid Interconnected Diesel Genset on WVO
 
Registered: March 01, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I found a nice set of instructions and calculators here:

http://homedistiller.org/refluxdesign.htm

I haven't tried it yet. Hopefully (if I'm lucky) will build one in a couple of months.


************************

"When you don't think what you say, you say what you think" Jacinto Benavente.

"Wars not make one great" Yoda.

"A pessimist is a well informed optimist"

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Location: Miami, Florida. | Registered: April 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I second the advice about homedistiller.org. Great info there -- I built my 30" long reflux column from their designs out of 1.5" copper pipe using an offset Nixon-Stone head. Copper scrubbers for packing. All you need is in that site.
 
Location: Sierra foothills | Registered: December 20, 2000Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks everyone. Sorry it took so long to reply. I checked out homedistiller.org and the design looked similar to what I came up with on my own after looking through some old chem text-books. I am currently working on building a 30" x 2" reflux column with copper scrubbers (I couldn't find stainless steel) packed inside. I'll let you know how it goes!

Sarah
Dickinson Biodiesel Crew
 
Location: Dickinson College | Registered: May 30, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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quote:
I'll let you know how it goes!


Please do!
The biggest and most frustrating problem I'm finding is that all reflux columns are being designed for ethanol, so there's no real data about the purity of the methanol that can be achieved with a given setup. Any info on that matter will be greatly appreciated. Smile


************************

"When you don't think what you say, you say what you think" Jacinto Benavente.

"Wars not make one great" Yoda.

"A pessimist is a well informed optimist"

WWVhaCwgSSdtIGEgZ2Vlay4gU08gV0hBVD8=
 
Location: Miami, Florida. | Registered: April 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My column is six feet of four inch id schedule 40 pipe, it's full of marbles, I have a PID controlling the head temp, I generally get 98-99% pure methanol out of it.
 
Location: West Michigan | Registered: April 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks, that's good to know.
Have you tried using steel wool?
As per the site I mentioned earlier, you should get the same results with only a 2 feet high column...


************************

"When you don't think what you say, you say what you think" Jacinto Benavente.

"Wars not make one great" Yoda.

"A pessimist is a well informed optimist"

WWVhaCwgSSdtIGEgZ2Vlay4gU08gV0hBVD8=
 
Location: Miami, Florida. | Registered: April 06, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by fabricator:
My column is six feet of four inch id schedule 40 pipe, it's full of marbles, I have a PID controlling the head temp, I generally get 98-99% pure methanol out of it.


Fabricator

You got a build up on that reflux column? I'd be interested in seeing how you made it.


quote:
Originally posted by Murphy: In short, this place is like a multi-dimensional bull$hit detector on steroids
 
Location: In the Pacific Somewhere | Registered: January 25, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by bernyjb:
Thanks, that's good to know.
Have you tried using steel wool?
As per the site I mentioned earlier, you should get the same results with only a 2 feet high column...


That is why you see a flange at the two foot level, I tried steel wool, didnt work worth a crap, then I added four more feet of tube and tried steel wool again, still not worth a crap, so I filled the whole thing with marbles and it made 98.9% pure methanol the first try.
 
Location: West Michigan | Registered: April 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by paulb3:
quote:
Originally posted by fabricator:
My column is six feet of four inch id schedule 40 pipe, it's full of marbles, I have a PID controlling the head temp, I generally get 98-99% pure methanol out of it.


Fabricator

You got a build up on that reflux column? I'd be interested in seeing how you made it.


The top of the still is 1/4" steel, inside the still around the opening to the column there is an expanded metal cage which holds about 1/2 cubic foot of marbles, in these marbles is the thermocouple for my PID, I set it 155-158 degrees, so the PID causes the element to do whatever it has to do to keep these marbles at that temperature, above that is approximately another 50-75lbs of marbles in the tube, off the top of the tube there is 3/8 pipe into a condenser that has 20' of 3/8 copper tube inside 3" pipe, water circualtes in the 3" pipe and condenses the methanol, I can do 50 gallons at a time and it takes around 12 hours to get to a point where it is not worth trying to squeez any more out of the glycerine, a little blue pump circulates the glycerine pulling off the bottom and spraying on the top.
 
Location: West Michigan | Registered: April 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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Hello Fabricator...I realize this thread is old, but perhaps you might get this. In the picture, it looks like there is a tube or something coming out the backside of the column about a foot or so from the bottom...what is it?
 
Registered: July 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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From his description I would believe that the hose is for the water to cool the condensor.

quote:
off the top of the tube there is 3/8 pipe into a condenser that has 20' of 3/8 copper tube inside 3" pipe, water circualtes in the 3" pipe and condenses the methanol

quote:
Originally posted by YukonBio:
Hello Fabricator...I realize this thread is old, but perhaps you might get this. In the picture, it looks like there is a tube or something coming out the backside of the column about a foot or so from the bottom...what is it?


quote:
Originally posted by Murphy: In short, this place is like a multi-dimensional bull$hit detector on steroids
 
Location: In the Pacific Somewhere | Registered: January 25, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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