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Do-It-Yourself Alcohol Stills
Looking for a simple way to make your own ethanol on the farm? Bill Sasher and Dogwood Energy may have just what you need. He sells complete stills, still components or detailed plans for stills.
When energy prices rose over the past year, so did demand for alcohol stills.
"My dad did an interview on stills with an Associated Press reporter, and we went from selling 1 to 2 stills and 30 blueprints a week to selling a blueprint every 6 minutes and 30 to 35 stills in three days," says Sasher's daughter, Shelly McClanahan, who is spokesperson for Dogwood Energy. "We were overwhelmed."
What makes Dogwood Energy's still so attractive is they pretty much run themselves. Customers also like the fact that they can fit in a corner of a garage. Best of all, from a safety angle, they are designed so the cooker doesn't even have to be in the same building with the distillation column.
Like any still, you start with mash, ferment it and drain off the liquid, which is transferred to a cooking tank to begin the distilling process. Sasher recommends using a wood-fired 55-gal. drum and adding more liquid to it as it cooks down and turns to vapor.
Traditional still designs use a boiler with a distilling column and condenser attached to it. The higher the temperature, the higher the distillation rate. With the Dogwood still, the column and condenser are separate from the cooker. All the operator needs is to keep the fire burning, as there is no high-pressure boiler to watch.
Another advantage is safety. The drum and fire are kept at least 10 ft. away from the still. "You don't need to baby sit it," says McClanahan. "Some people even set up the cooker outside the building where the distiller column is. You can feed the fire and walk off and leave it anytime you want.
"The temperature control valve forces the water vapor to condense. It has a 20 proof alcohol content and recycles through the system. Meanwhile 190 proof comes off at the top of the column," says McClanahan. "One hundred gallons of mash will make 10 gallons of ethanol."
The final step before blending with gas is to run it through a zeolite filter, which Dogwood also sells. It pulls the water out, leaving 200 proof alcohol.
"We just mix ours with gas," says McClanahan.
How much to mix depends on the type of vehicle, though she says most will handle 10 to 20 percent ethanol.
Dogwood Energy sells a full copper still for about $1,500 that will produce 5 gal. per hour.
"A bushel of corn will yield 2.6 gal. of ethanol," she explains. "If corn is selling for $1.95 per bushel, you can make ethanol for $1.09/gal. in batches of 75 gallons compared to buying gas at $3/gal."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dogwood Energy, LLC; 301 N. Jackson St., P.O. Box 875, Tullahoma, Tenn. 37388 (ph 931 563-2308; dogwoodenergy@gmail.com; www.dogwoodenergy.com).

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2006 - Volume #30, Issue #4