Vacuum Ethanol Distillation

Dan Brouwer, Nick Campbell

Sponsor: Dordt College engineering department

A small scale ethanol still was designed typed to produce 180-proof fuel-grade ethanol, and to take advantage of renewable energy heat sources such as solar heated water, or combustion of sorghum by-product, or even wood. The electronically controlled prototype process operates at a vacuum of 25 in. Hg, and distillation temperatures of less than 130 °F. and thus the device can utilize some cheaper materials such as PVC pipe and vinyl tubing. The overall goal was to demonstrate the possibility of small-scale localized fuel ethanol production in areas where the usual liquid fuels may have high cost and low availability.