root alcohol



root alcohol defined in 1909 year

root alcohol - Root alcohol;
root alcohol - A number of roots and tubers, including beet, potatoes, carrots, turnips, asphodel, madder, and chicory, have been availed of for the manufacture of alcohol, the most important being beets and potatoes.

Beets alcohol

Beets contain about 10 per cent, of sugar, which can be converted into alcohol in several ways, chiefly: (1) rasping and pressing the roots and fermenting the expressed juice; (2) mace-lating in hot water; (3) direct distillation.

(1) The roots are washed, rasped(grated), and pressed, yielding 80 to 85 per cent, of juice; this is heated to about 82½° F. (28° C.), and run into fermenting-vats; here it is acidulated with not more than 6¼ lb. of sulphuric acid to every 1750 pints of juice, to neutralise the alkaline salts present, and hinder viscous fermentation. Alcoholic fermentation is assisted by the addition of about 1 oz. of yeast previously mixed with a little water to every 100 pints of juice, the external temperature being carefully maintained at 68° F. (20° C.). The alcohol produced by this process is the best but dearest, requiring most plant and labour.

(2) In the maceration process, the washed roots are cut into slices, having a width of less than ½ in., a thickness of 1/25 in., and a variable length; the slices are covered with boiling water in a wooden or iron macerator for 1 hour, the water containing 1 lb. Sulphuric acid for every 50½ lb. of beet.

The partially saturated water is next drawn off into a second vat, where more slices are added, and maceration takes place for 1 hour; and finally into a third likewise, after which it goes to the fermenting vat. In mild weather the juice will be at about the right heat for fermentation, say 7l½° to 75¼° F. (22° to 24° C.), but in very cold weather reheating may be necessary. The fermentation is similar to that of pressed juice, and is usually complete in 24 to 30 hours. The alcohol thus obtained is inferior but much cheaper.

(3) Laplay's method of direct distillation of the roots is conducted in vats of 100 bushels' capacity, and a charge consists of 2500 lb. of the sliced roots, inclosed in porous bags, and immersed in 440 gal. of acidulated water, with the temperature maintained at about 77° to 80° F. (25° to 27° C.). The addition of a little yeast starts the fermentation, which lasts about 24 hours. The slices of beets charged with alcohol are now placed in a distilling apparatus of a very simple nature. It consists of a cylindrical column of wood or iron, fitted with a tight cover, which is connected with a coil or worm, kept cool in a vessel of cold water. Inside this column are arranged a row of perforated diaphragms or partitions. The space between the lowest one and the bottom of the cylinder is kept empty to receive the condensed water formed by the steam, which is blown into the bottom of the cylinder in order to heat the contents. Vapors of alcohol are thus disengaged from the undermost slices, and these vapors as they rise through the cylinder vaporise the remaining alcohol and finally pass out of the top at a considerable strength and are condensed in a worm. When all the contents of the still have been completely exhausted of spirit, the remainder consists of a cooked pulp, which contains all the nutritive constituents of the beet except the sugar.

Potato-Spirit or Potato Alcohol

Potato-Spirit is made chiefly in Germany, and its manufacture has now assumed considerable importance. Potatoes contain 16 to 20 per cent, of starch, which is capable of being converted into glucose by the action of sulphuric acid or of malt. Three principal methods of effecting the sacchari-fication are in use: (1) the potatoes are cooked, and then crushed into pulp; (2) rasped to bring about the same result; (3) the starch may be extracted and converted into sugar afterwards.

In the first method are several operations, viz. cooking the potatoes; crushing them; converting the starch into sugar by means of malt; and finally, fermentation and distillation. The operation of "cooking" is carried on with a boiler set in brickwork surmounted by a tun made of oak staves. The bottom of the tun, which must be of solid wood, is perforated with a number of small square holes to give admittance to the steam from below. The potatoes placed in this tun are rapidly cooked by the ascending steam. They are then withdrawn and crushed into a thick pulp between two rollers, commonly made of oak, and placed below the level of the tun. As the potatoes swell considerably during the steaming, the tun should never be completely filled. The pulp is placed in a vat, holding 660 to 880 gal., in which the saccharification takes place. About 2500 lb. of the crushed potatoes and 175 lb. of broken malt are introduced, and immediately afterwards water is run in at a temperature of about 86° to 104° F. (36° to 40° C.), the contents being well stirred with a fork meanwhile. The vat is then carefully closed for J hour, after which boiling water is added until the temperature reaches 140° F. (60° C.), when the whole is left for 3 or 4 hours. The process of fermentation is conducted in the same vat. Alternate doses of cold and boiling water are run upon the mixture, until the quantity is made up to from 700 to 770 gal., according to the size of the vat, and so as finally to bring the temperature to 75¼° to 78¾° F. (24° to 26° C.). Liquid brewer's yeast (4½ to 5¼ pints) is added, and fermentation speedily sets in. This process complete, the fermented pulp is distilled in the apparatus devised by Cellier-Blumenthal, for distilling materials of a pasty nature (see distilling); the product has a very unpleasant odour and flavour.

(2) By rasping the potatoes, the extensive operations of cooking and separating the starch are avoided. In this operation, the washed potatoes are thrown into a rasping machine similar to those employed in sugar manufactories. If 2500 lb. of potatoes be.worked at once, the vat has a capacity of 484 to 550 gal., and a perforated false bottom carrying a layer of straw. The charged potatoes are allowed to stand for J hour in order to get rid of a portion of their water. After this, 219 to 262 gal. of boiling water are run in, then 175 lb. of malt are- added; the whole is stirred up and left to macerate for 3 or 4 hours. This done, the liquid is drawn off from beneath into the fermenting-vat; the pulp is drained for ¼ hour, and the drainings are added to the liquor previously run off. Boiling water (109 gal.) is run in upon the pulp, which is again stirred up energetically. After remaining some little time, the water is again drawn off, the pulp drained and washed anew with 109 gal. of cold water, with agitation. This is again drawn off, and the whole of the water with the drainings is mixed up in the fermenting vat. Yeast (5 lb.) is added, and the contents of the vat are left to ferment. Only the liquor is fermented by this process, but the spirit yielded is nearly as unpleasant to taste and smell as that obtained by process No. 1.

(3) The only means of obtaining alcohol of good quality from the potato is to extract the starch and convert it into sugar separately. The saccharification of the starch is effected either by sulphuric acid or diastase, the latter being decidedly preferable. In a vat of 660 gal. capacity are mixed together 220 gal. of cold water, and 1250 lb. Of dry or 1875 lb. of moist starch. The mixture is well agitated, and 247 gal. of boiling water are run in, together with 180 to200 1b. of malt; the whole is stirred up energetically for 10 minutes, and then left to saccharify for 3 or 4 hours. The saccharine solution obtained must be brought to 6° or 7° B. at a temperature of 7l½° to 75¼°F. (22° to 24° C.), and 17½ oz. of dry yeast are added for every 290 gal. of must. Fermentation is soon established, and occupies usually about 36 hours. After remaining at rest for 24 hours, the must is distilled; 250 lb. of starch ought to yield 8 to 9 gal. of pure alcohol, or 9 to 10 gal. of alcohol at 90°.

(4) The following methods provide for the isolation of the fecula or starch, without steam, and the production of a wash of a more watery consistence, therefore easier to handle in ordinary stills, and with less liability to burn.

Two operations are necessary by this method: First, rasping, or reducing the potatoes to a finely crushed and pulpy condition by means of a machine described in the chapter on beet mashing; and second, the separation of the fecula.

To this latter end the potato pulp is placed on a sieve, having side walls and network of horse-hair, which is placed over a suitable tub. Water is run gradually through the pulp and sieve, while the pulp is rubbed up by hand. When the water comes through clear, then all the fecula of the pulp has been washed out, and the refuse left in the sieve can be thrown aside or used as a food for cattle.

For a mashing tub of say about 32 bushels capacity, the fecula from about 800 lb. of potatoes is used. This is deposited in the mash tub with sufficient cold water to form a fairly clear paste. About twice as much water as fecula will bring the paste to proper consistence. This mixture should be constantly stirred, as otherwise the fecula will sink to the bottom-About 40 gal. of boiling water are then added gradually. The mixture has at first a milky appearance, but at the last becomes entirely clear.

This liquid is mashed with about 45 lb. of malted barley or Indian corn, ground into coarse flour. In 10 minutes the mixture will be completely fluidified. It is then left to subside for 3 or 4 hours, when it will have acquired a sweetish taste and be what is termed as "sweet mash." The fluid is then further diluted by the addition of sufficient water to give about 290 gal. of wash. Two or 3 pints of good yeast will bring this mixture to a ferment.

A less laborious method of accomplishing the same result is that at one time used in English distilleries. In this a double bottom tub is used, the upper bottom of which is perforated, and raised above the solid lower bottom. A draw-off cock opens out from the space between the two bottoms.

Assuming that the tub is of 220 gal. capacity, then from 12 to 20 lb. of chaff are spread over the perforated bottom and pulp from 800 lb. of raw potatoes placed on that. This is thoroughly drained for half an hour, through the draw-off cock. The pulp is then stirred while from 90 to 100 gal. of boiling water are added gradually. The mass then thickens into a paste. The paste is mashed with about 65 lb. of well steeped malt, and the liquid left to subside for 3 or 4 hours. It is then drained off through the perforated bottom into a fermenting back or tub. For this amount of material the back should be of about 300 gal. capacity.

The leavings left in the preparatory tub still contain considerable starch, and after they are well drained they should be mixed with from 50 to 55 gal. of boiling water. The mixture is then agitated and drained off into the fermenting back. The sediment left is again sprinkled with water, this time cold, which is drained off into the back. This completely exhausts the husks left on the upper bottom. By this process 200 lb. of potatoes should produce something over 12½ gal. of spirit.

The objection to the last method described is that the spirit so obtained is unpleasant to taste and smell, but this would probably not be an objection for industrial uses.>br?>br?The spirit obtained by treating the yam or sweet potato in a similar manner is said to be far superior to that yielded by the common potato.

According to Erfindungen und Erfahrungen, chicory seems likely to become of importance as a source of alcohol. The root contains an average of 24 per cent, of substances easily convertible into sugar, and the alcohol obtained by its saccnarification, fermentation, and distillation is characterised by a pleasant aromatic flavour and great purity.

Storage of Potatoes. - According to the investigations of Muller-Thurgaus, three processes take place simultaneously in the potato: Loss of water through evaporation, conversion of starch into sugar by the action of diastatic enzymes, and destruction of the sugar through respiration, accompanied by the evolution of carbonic acid. The first and last processes cause losses, the remaining one does not. If the three processes balance, the proportional starch content is the same before and after storage. If the evaporation exceeds, the percentage of starch increases; if the respiration preponderates, it decreases. Absolute losses always take place. As respiration is less at decreasing temperatures and practically ceases at 32° F., the losses are correspondingly less the nearer the storage temperature approaches the latter point. The diastatic action, however, is affected very little by low temperatures. If the temperature falls below 28° F., the potato freezes. Frosted potatoes acquire a sweet taste, due to the formation of sugar caused by the interruption or checking of the respiratory process, while the conversion of starch into sugar continues. In storing potatoes in a falling temperature there are three possibilities: if the temperature falls slowly to 32° F., the sugar formation continues, the respiration decreases, and the tuber becomes sweet. If the temperature falls below 28° F., the potatoes freeze and remain sweet. If the temperature falls rapidly below 28° F., the potatoes freeze but do not become sweet, as there was not sufficient time to permit the formation of sugar. Potatoes are usually kept at a temperature ranging between 40° and 50° F.

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