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The Industry City Distillery in Brooklyn, NY, distills its own sugar beet vodka using equipment they built in-house, with the help of The City Foundry, a “research and design group focused on improving small-scale manufacturing processes through the blending of science and art.” [thanks, Rich]

John Baichtal

My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal nerdage.net


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  1. Geoff Probert says:

    Nobody in his right mind would ever have the stoppers at the bottom of a flask. Recipe for disaster.

    1. Rich Watts says:

      Those flasks are stoppered and then sealed with tape. When you’re developing a new process you often have to work with what you’ve got – sometimes that means using things in ways that seem like a recipe for disaster.

      That photo shows a prototype of our bioreactors, which can be seen in their current form here: http://flic.kr/p/bEdgSq

      We’re still inverting flasks, but we’ve moved on from rubber stoppers.

      1. miroslava von schlochbaum says:

        “…manufacturing processes through the blending of science and art.” with a large dose of ‘art’, i guess. last time i got my degree in chemistry there had to be some source of heat for distillation, (even vacuum distillation requires some source). that is, that wall of (yes it would be dangerous if this involved anything toxic) mad-scientist tubing appears to have no rationale. perhaps we could be enlightened with something like: “you idiots don’t recognize a reverse osmosis Klinghoffer separatory apparatus when you see one?!” ? ;)

        1. Rich Watts says:

          Distillation is only one step in the production of alcohol. That mad-scientist tubing was used in the development of our fermentation system.

          I take issue with the use of ‘art’ as a pejorative term.

          Machines where both the form and function are considered and work in harmony to fulfill the intended purpose of the system is the sort of art that anyone should be able to appreciate.

  2. The continuous distillation system looks pretty cool… I’d never seen that before… google was only partly helpful there.

    How long does a column of immobilized yeast last before it needs to be ‘retired’? I assume that the dead yeast that would normally collect at the bottom of a carboy will accumulate in the gel and eventually need to be replaced.

    1. Rich Watts says:

      We’re still experimenting with the system, so it’s hard to tell what the lifespan on a production column will be. Currently, we’ve had columns online for ~2 months before there was a significant decline in efficiency. This is with regular maintenance of the encapsulated yeast. We’re making more changes to the system now, so it might be a while before we have hard data on how long the yeast remain viable.

  3. Brandon Boyer says:

    “research and design group focused on improving small-scale manufacturing processes through the blending of science and art.”

    This quote amuses me. Only because I didn’t see any projects that could be considered “Improving” small-scale manufacturing.

    That’s not to say that the group has not done any fun projects. The Boiler assembly looked very good, as did the desk made from the re-purposed drill press base. But allow those projects and results to speak for themselves.

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