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How long does distillation take for you guys?
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I have a 200-liter steel drum I am using for the mash-ton in my still. Through the top of the drum I have a nylon hose running to a copper coil water jacket. I didn't measure the waste glycerine precisely but I am guessing I have about 40 liters of it. I ran the thing for 5-6 hours and I only ended up with about 1.5 liters of recovered methanol so far. It's coming out pure but it's not happening as fast as I thought it might. Is this normal or am I being impatient?
 
Location: Uruguay | Registered: November 12, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think my set-up s not all that much different from yours. Here is is before I had even unloaded it at its new home:


50gal drum, on its side, inline 6500W 220V heating element on 120V (so only putting off 1625W in use).

Its insulated with a wrap of fiberglass and 2" Styrofoam on each end. And it takes for friggin' EVER. Seriously, to demeth 45gal of glycerin is an all weekend affair. The only time I have ever gotten a whole tank full demethed in one day (14hrs) was on a day in July when it was 100F outside. Otherwise is 14hrs on Saturday and then shut it down overnight, then start it up again Sunday and finish in the early afternoon, usually.

Watch your head temperature (right where the vapor enters the condenser). Until its 150F right there, you are not even distilling at full speed yet.
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So I'm not messing it up. Good to know Smile I see these videos on Youtube where the stuff is literally pouring out of the end of the condenser and I am jealous.
I wonder, with the energy involved in running all weekend, is it still cost-effective to run the still?
 
Location: Uruguay | Registered: November 12, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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My last barrel of methanol was $182.20: so $3.31 per gallon. From 45gal of glycerin I pull back about 10 gal of methanol (22%, I think that is consistent with the observations of others). So a $33 value of methanol.

1625W for 20hrs for the heater.

The pump's kW....hmmmm....not sure what that is. But its going to be a lot less than the heater, maybe 300-500W?

Call it 400W for 20hrs for the pump.

(1.625*20)+(.400*20) = 40.5 kWh @ $.30/kWh (I think that was my last electricity bill) = $12.50

$20 more methanol value than I use in electricity, give or take for my estimations and memory recall.
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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you might try injecting air into the pot...

I typically run 6-12 hrs. starting with 55 gallon/200 liters of glycerin. the warmer the longer. the colder the faster. I think this is because the reflux column can dump more heat when its cold allowing me to put in more heat.

-dkenny


'84 bluebird school bus, DD8.2L turbo( 4/2011, the bus tranny has died..Frown 8.23.11 bus driven to scrap yard Frown )
2006 Jeep Liberty CRD Smile - the wife's
99 dodge 2500 5.9l 24v..-mine Smile
everything run B100 when its warm enough Smile
 
Location: RTP, North Carolina | Registered: December 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I know this is comparing apples to oranges since I use vacuum during distillation but I recover about 1/3 of the methanol in about 2&1/2 hours. It is still recovering when I quit. I just get tired of waiting.
 
Registered: June 25, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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So if I were to, say, build a poor-man's vaccuum still, with the following in mind, would it be better and faster or would it lose too much vapor to be worth the process?
Mash-ton leads to to cooling jacket, end of cooling jacket sealed to a bucket, and a small household vaccuum cleaner drawing on another attachment to the bucket. Should lower the pressure of the atmosphere throughout the system but shouldn't be strong enough to collapse the bucket, hoses, or the mash-ton.
Would this work?
 
Location: Uruguay | Registered: November 12, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Our 55 gallon drum reflux still takes about 48 hours to distill about 35 gallons of glycerin. Just tested our output methanol the other day 99% pure Cool



 
Registered: April 28, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Good to hear somebody else is right-on-the-money with what I experience. Gives me confidence my system runs well enough!
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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my condenser is a fan cooled radiator..
its from a commercial fridge unit..I destroyed the compressor trying to use vacuum to recover methanol..

its about 14 inches tall and 18 inches wide...AL fins with 3/8" copper tube single pass..
no water on the condenser part. just air..take longer in the summer than in the winter.

-dkenny


'84 bluebird school bus, DD8.2L turbo( 4/2011, the bus tranny has died..Frown 8.23.11 bus driven to scrap yard Frown )
2006 Jeep Liberty CRD Smile - the wife's
99 dodge 2500 5.9l 24v..-mine Smile
everything run B100 when its warm enough Smile
 
Location: RTP, North Carolina | Registered: December 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't have the long periods of time available to watch the still like I used to. So I am re-evaluating how my still functions. Once its dripping and flowing, then the 1625W element does the job fine, but it takes soooo long to get to the dripping stage that I am never going to get through my back log. Seriously, I have about 350 gal of methanol-laden glycerin to try to recover this summer, if I can. The batch from last weekend took 8hr to go from ambient (70F) to 150F and start to drip.

So I am considering ways to push heat in much faster to go from ambient to 150F, then switching to only the smaller, more controlled 1625W element to maintain the condensate flow.

So here's my thought: I have a least one, maybe a couple, 120V heating elements out of a dishwasher. I need to make a resistance measurement to figure out what wattage they are, but if I bought it to the side of my steel barrel under the insulation, that would warm the entire steel to transfer to the glycerin. if it was 1600W as well, that would have my time from ambient to 150F. 4hrs would be more manageable than 8hrs+.

Or maybe I just drop the coin on a true barrel heater, and wrap that under the insulation.
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ryan,

can you change your setup to control the temps at the top of the reflux column. you have one don't you?

I run 4500W into the pot..when the top of the column hits 151F the heat to the pot cycles.
I have found that I cannot run the same element on 120v. it must run on 240v.

if you run the element at 4500w make sure it has some flow passed it. otherwise you might burn crud onto the element.

tomorrow I start running a 55 gallon methanol recovery. the low tonight is 70ish the high in the low 90's..I note how long it takes to reach completion. for me that's 205F in the pot.

-dkenny


'84 bluebird school bus, DD8.2L turbo( 4/2011, the bus tranny has died..Frown 8.23.11 bus driven to scrap yard Frown )
2006 Jeep Liberty CRD Smile - the wife's
99 dodge 2500 5.9l 24v..-mine Smile
everything run B100 when its warm enough Smile
 
Location: RTP, North Carolina | Registered: December 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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That's the other thing I could do: swapping the element to 240V. It was build and wired for my previous shop where I had no 240V. Its safety wired right now to only power the element if the pump is running, but I could by-pass it to run on 240 now. The element is in-line right after the pump, so plenty of flow over it.

I'd have to get about a 30ft 240V cord to reach the outlets in the rear of the shop, but I could do it. The would be a 4x multiplier on the wattage.

The dishwasher elements I have were 27ohm, which makes them a 560W element on 120V. Not even worth the effort.
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well its running.
start about 8:30am
oil was 80 some degrees.
some time before 11:45 it reached 181F with a head temp at 151.

I'll edit this with more info as I have it

12ish hrs into the recovery. pot temp 189..or 16 degrees to go..about 7 gallons recovered.
I think it taking longer than during cold weather. by about 2x or more. Today was about 92F.

at 21.30..still going.but the switch the help control the heater failed off..but its working again. I need to replace it. fyi if it failed on..that's not a problem. its the first level of control. meaning that the temp controllers are still able to shut everything down..heating wise.
they don't turn off the pump..I prefer to have the pump left on even if the heat is turned off. that way..it shouldn't go bang..just run up the power bill since the pump is running

-dkenny

This message has been edited. Last edited by: dkenny,


'84 bluebird school bus, DD8.2L turbo( 4/2011, the bus tranny has died..Frown 8.23.11 bus driven to scrap yard Frown )
2006 Jeep Liberty CRD Smile - the wife's
99 dodge 2500 5.9l 24v..-mine Smile
everything run B100 when its warm enough Smile
 
Location: RTP, North Carolina | Registered: December 15, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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At 4500W...that's nice.

I called my running batch at 9gal recovered about 6pm last night, when the water circulation pump burned out, and emptied it to let it cool and then make some upgrades next weekend. Hopefully it was just thermally tripped and once cool it will run again, but probably not. The pump head is good, maybe I can get a better motor for it.

Upgrade #1 that is already done was removing the ratty fiberglass insulation on it and replacing it all with a layer of 3" thick foam. And taking the time to cut and trim the foam to fit all the nooks and crannies, so its FULLY insulated now. That will help.
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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And speaking of that foam, now that I am fully upgraded (including a new heating element since I burned one out) and running again, I have discovered some weaknesses in my insulation choices.

1) Blue Stryofoam is only good to an operating temperature of 75C, or 167F. So my batch last night obviously got hotter than that in the drum because I shrunk the 1.5" thick blue foam on the end of the drum down to about 3/4", and more like .5" on the edges. Head temp. just crept over 140F.

2) I should stick with the aluminum bubble wrap to insulate the pipes, because the cheap, non-cross-linked polyethylene pipe insulation melts at 203F. So APPARENTLY I have verified that the fluid exiting my in-line heater is over 203F because all that pipe insulation melted and fell off the pipes. The same insulation on the reflux column was fine, though.

All that made for an interesting odor in my shop last night. Razz
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I tried one of those foil-lined army survival blankets (tarp on one side, foil on the other) and it worked awesome. Perfect size for wrapping a 200L barrel too.
 
Location: Uruguay | Registered: November 12, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The majority of my drum wrap is a polyurethane memory foam that was a defective product I received through work. It was a bunch of foam sheets that were way too hard for what they were ordered for. I was told to throw them away, so they were "thrown away" into the bed of my truck and then home to be stored in my shop attic!

3" thick and supposed to basically NOT melt, but working temp up to 260F. I can replace the cover on the end of the drum easy enough, but I'll have to source something new to wrap the pipes in. Maybe I still have a bit of that aluminum bubble stuff lying around...
 
Location: Southern WI, USA | Registered: May 18, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post



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