about a decade ago I became interested in (still am) using ethanol as an alternative fuel source. I researched how to make ethanol from many different substrates including garden produce waste streams. Then I built a test vessel to prove my research. I was successful in making a substance that ran an internal combustion engine. I made several modifications to the original column apparatus to make it work more efficiently. some of those were what I covered up to not cloud the discussion with experimental concepts. The original offset condensor – packed column – fractionating still – designed by Mike Nixon and John Stone is still the hobbyist standard for simplicity and efficiency, The right hand section is an experimental concept from Mike Nixon that I tried out with some success. It just works on a different principal and condensor set up. Since then I have not used the column but since it is still constructed it would only take a few minutes of adjustment to put it back into operation.
I will make a declaration right now. This has not operated for at least 8 years. I did not at any time make a beverage of anykind for human consumption. I did not and have not donated sold or transported any alcohol that did not have a legal government approved tax stamp on it. No vehicle was operated on any public roadway without using tax paid fuels. The biggest issue the government has with home distillation is the tax revenue. If you register your equipment and pay the taxes they dont care what you do.
the purpose of this video is to show the equipment required to make an alcohol fuel. It is not intended to make a beverage alcohol, altho, if you are careful with the operation, and follow strict health and safety guidelines, a potable beverage is entirely possible. How good that tastes is an entirely different subject all together. There is a big difference between following a recipe and making something that tastes good.
to operate an internal combustion engine, ideally, you need an alcohol around 80 to 85 percent. Stronger and lighter numbers both have their own list of issues. 85 percent will burn and the water content will form steam that will expand in the combustion chamber to get more work out of the engine.
I skirted around the health and safety questions because I am talking about burning it in an engine. If you intend to drink it, you have got to know EXACTLY what you are doing or else you will go blind at best or kill yourself or somebody else at worst. at any rate running wood or methyl alcohol thru your liver and kidneys will probably do permanent damage. Just remember that I told you not to do it. It is much less expensive, less time consuming and less difficult to go to the package store and buy your booze there.
http://www.homedistiller.org is a wealth of valuable information. It is a free access information webpage run by Tony Ackland. Tony lives in Australia where it is legal to distill at home in certain areas. New Zealand is another country where it is legal. Those countries are important to know because they are english speaking countries so you can watch their videos without requiring a translator. The safety section at that site will start you down the road of understanding the health and safety rules of home distillation.
are the names of yahoo groups where you can interact with others who are enjoying the same hobby that you are interested in. new distillers is where you can get info about fixing a stuck fermentation or assembling/operating a still. or any number of questions that you might have about the hobby. Everybody gets overwhelmed at first. Once you get your first success it becomes easier. New Distillers is all about answering those basic questonions to free up the Distillers group for more advanced discussions. Both groups / forums interchange and overlap quite a bit. Distillers is about the more advanced designs and theoretical work or fermenting odd substrates like locust tree seed pods or wintersquash. It wont take you long to pick out who does and does not actually pursue the hobby themselves. Once you filter out the blow hard fakers you can concentrate on the real voices. there is also a forums located directly off Tonys homedistiller.org site. ASK QUESTIONS .. especially if you have built your own apparatus and intend to drink your product results. Buying certain materials is safer but more expensive at the start. IE some plumbing solder contains a larger lead content than others. The Silver based solder is pricier but safer. It is also easier to do free form soldering with. Some of the fittings require you to fabricate them from parts of other fittings and then solder them back together. If everybody had a MIG TIG welder it wouldnt be a challenge now would it?