Alcohol distillation: the Future of Sustainability
Distillers are increasingly considering sustainability when designing and operating their facilities and operations in order to increase production. Rethinking water usage to lower consumption, repurposing waste heat; installing solar power, on-site malting, using recycled bottles rather than plastic to minimize transport costs, using local ingredients when possible to minimize emissions costs, as well as providing ingredient safety and transparency are just some of the green ideas being incorporated.
One of the greatest challenges associated with distilling is determining how much energy to invest in order to reach desired results. A high quality spirit requires above 95 percent alcohol concentration. To reach this mark, distillers must balance several factors, such as alcohol/water ratio (reflux ratio), column pressure and temperature (for both stripping and rectifying sections), vapor flow rate control on beer feed to the column, as well as heat application to reboiler.
Master distillers possess the art and skill required to precisely time the “cutting” of still outflow from heads to hearts and tails, and to maximize purity while minimizing loss due to other congeners that may produce unpleasant or harmful aromas or flavors – for instance acetaldehyde produced through the oxidation of ethanol has an unpleasant odour, while its boiling point of 20.8@C makes it an often cause of hangovers.