Retort vessel Orion #4

The retort vessel is heavy wall steel 8mm (5/16").  200mm (8")I.D. x 1.4m (55") high. 50Litre.
(May 2015 update)The latest iteration of vessel is shortened by about 150mm.

The 6bolt flanges for the upper hatch have a 45degree v-groove taper seal machined directly to the mating surfaces. These were made from 25mm scrap mild steel plate and turned on my home workshop lathe.

I started the spiral finning on the retort vessel, fabricated from 10mm steel round bar at 150mm spacing. Four layers of round bar will be added till a height of 40mm. The hope here is that the flame will be forced to travel the spiral path and give up its' heat more readily to the fins and retort vessel. The increase in distance traversed by the flame front appears to be approx. 3.3 times.

18Jun2013. I'm part way through welding the spiral fins. I will recycle the steel from 2 x retired 300mm diameter  LPG automotive cylinders which will be for the outer flame barrier. This will also keep the insulation captive.

 19Jun2013, Here the spiral finning is complete with pic showing it partly fitted into the old LPG cylinder.
The finning creates a spiral channel area of 60 sq cm. This is in excess of the 75mm (3") exhaust stack at which gives 44 sq cm. So at least the spiral will not be restrictive based on square area. At this stage it is all theory and untested as well. The green cylinder to the left is the proposed reflux vessel.

26June2013. Progress on the retort consists of tack-welding the flange and vessel bottom in place. As with projects like this, it often takes as much time to think it through than actually making the item.

Top of retort ready for insulation.

 Thermocouple for the retort (Update: this thermocouple didn't work because they are a "grounded" type. The Arduino breakout board the TC is connected to requires 'non-grounded' to work properly.)
1April2014 I've replaced the TC with a non grounded type that now feed new LCD displays.

Top of retort and reflux with thermocouples fitted

 Reflux tower with retort top flange welded as one piece.

Platform to stand on to service the retort and reflux condenser.

16June2014 Today I cleaned out 3kg carbon black out of the retort. All the build up was in the bottom 150mm and was biscuit like. I pounded it to powder before vacuuming it out with a domestic vacuum cleaner.
8March2015 Cleaning the carbon residue has proved to be a problem and is made worse by the depth of the retort. I've cut about 6 inches off the bottom and noticed the carbon was 100mm thick on the retort floor .An old circular saw blade was used for a trial decoking of the walls. It was working quite well so am going to make an extension to reach the bottom. In situ, once the carbon has been chipped off the walls it will be simply sucked out with a household vacuum cleaner.

8April2015 More parts of the retort heat ducting (hot zone) were completed today. Below photographed in situ, with the retort vessel.
Here the top cover (part) is photographed alone. It is recycled from the base of a 200L drum and a section of LPG cylinder.

A revised retort weighing mechanism was devised. This consists of a steel wire rope attached vertically to the reflux cap which rolls over an old vee-belt tensioner pulley at a 90° angle. The rope then connects to a lever which in turn operates an old brake master cylinder. A pressure gauge reads the cylinder pressure exerted by the rope tension. In this way a point of reference between full and empty can be established. In testing the readings were very consistent.


More updates and photos shortly...

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