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By: David Howard | G+

Motor control in distillery operations

Motor control in distillery operations

Distilled spirits follow time-honored traditions and use relatively few ingredients: grains, fruit or vegetables, and water. The organic ingredients are ground and then mixed with water and yeast and left to ferment. After a few days the yeast consumes the sugar and the mash is transformed into a wash - consisting of about 10 to 12 percent alcohol by volume.

The wash is transferred to a pot, usually by pumps, to be heated. Since ethanol boils at 173 degrees, and water at 212, the alcohol vaporizes first (including some water too). The steam rises and enters a copper column with most of it condensing quickly and falling back into the pot. However, the highest alcohol content steam continues through a pipe called the lyne arm. From the lyne arm it traditionally enters copper coils submerged in a water bath, though modern facilities usually transfer it to vertical tubular condenser towers, in order to cool and condense the vapor. The cooled, distilled alcohol drips into a collection vessel. This high-proof alcohol may be distilled again or transferred into barrels or containers that contain wood for aging. It’s during aging that the alcohol absorbs color and flavors from the wood.

Modernization requires automation

Distilling is an ancient art and holds onto many traditions. The size of the still, types of barrels, length of aging, and other distillation processes may be tightly regulated. However, modern demand requires distillers to embrace automation where possible.

Grinding mills are driven by electric motors; wash and distilled spirits are collected and pumped throughout plants via impeller or screw pumps. And when permitted, stainless steel aging tanks have replaced casks and oak barrels - with some even being pressurized to speed up the aging process. From the mash tank's agitator motor, to the pumping equipment, to the still heating solution, you’ll find motors and controls everywhere.

Repco stocks hundreds of replacement electrical contacts from over 27 OEMs from ABB to Westinghouse. They also supply OEM and their own brand of carbon brushes. Repco’s replacement contacts and carbon brushes provide a lower cost, OEM compatible option to help keep distilleries producing high-quality spirits.  

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