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Juicing crop feedstock for ethanol

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Posted by Curbie on April 14, 2010, 6:44 pm

I'm studying the process of harvesting and juicing the stalks of
Jerusalem artichokes and leaving (most) of the tubers in the ground
for re-growth (the following season).

The literature I've read is pretty vague on this point; the patent
(4400469) describes a hammer mill and a (undefined) press, although
the hammer mill is a pretty easy home-scale DIY device, it's really
just a device to pulverize and the lack of detail on this undefined
press is troubling.

I've been tinkering with the idea of slight modifications to a hammer
mill by putting small juice holes on the bottom and the pulp exit mesh
on the lower part of one side, just above a small juice "Dam".

I've looked at other ways, "roller press", "masticating juicer",
"centrifugal juicer", and "hammer mill" type designs, all have
interesting points for both ease of DIY construction and
efficient juicing.

I been chasing my tail for a while on this and was hoping some
feedback would help me sort this out.



Posted by Jim Wilkins on April 14, 2010, 9:26 pm

Brush chipper, garbage disposal??


Posted by Curbie on April 15, 2010, 3:17 am


You have a lot of experience with DIY design and construction, could
you cast an eye on these two designs and give me any feedback you
think appropriate, also which one you like best, or if you feel
something would be better.

The notion is to feed one of the them long straight stalks in
continuous fashion to separate the juice which I want, from the pulp
which gets composted. Neither image is complete and I'll add some
design notes for each.

Design notes:
Basically the bottom 1/3 30gallon drum and its lid (turned on the
Horizontal shaft (5-7 hp)
Standard hammer assembly 3 plates 3" apart (not shown)
2" drive pulley, 8" driven pulley, 3600 RPM engine, 225 RPM hammer
Basically the stalks get feed into a chute (not shown) in the top to
the hammers which pulverize them until the pulp is fine enough to exit
the holes in the side, the small holes at the bottom of the drum is
where the juice exits.

Design notes:
Basically the bottom 1/3 30gallon drum (left vertical)
Vertical shaft (5-7 hp)
The cutter and basket both turn at the same RPM and the basket has
holes (not shown) in it to spin out the juice after the stalk is cut
2" drive pulley, 3" driven pulley, 3600 RPM engine, 1600 RPM
cutter/basket assembly.
Basically the stalks get feed into a chute (not shown) in the top to
the cutter which pulverize them, the pulp is spun up the basket by
centrifugal force what the juice is spun through holes in the basket
(not shown) and the pulp exits and chute (not shown) at the top of the
basket at one side.

I think the first idea would be simpler to build, the second would
juice better, although I'm concerned about building and balancing the


Posted by Jim Wilkins on April 15, 2010, 11:40 am

How much sheet metal experience do you have? It's a difficult art,
especially for curved shapes.

The size and strength of sheet metal structures are strongly limited
by the machines you have to cut and form it. This is the only type of
reasonably affordable home-shop sheet metal machine:
They can barely handle their rated capacity, don't even think of
pushing beyond it.
Separate shears, brakes and rolls work better but are much more
expensive and take up excessive floor space.

Aluminum is easy to cut and bend but quite tricky to weld.
Steel is more difficult to cut and bend, easy to weld, but rusts.
Don't weld galvanized steel, the fumes are poisonous.
Stainless steel will dull the cutting blade quickly. It's reasonable
to weld and doesn't rust. I use a plasma cutter on it.

The steel in a drum is thin enough to cut with hand tools or an air
shear. The flanged joint in your hammermill picture would be difficult
and leaky but you could put a cement tub underneath to catch the

I would start with a new garbage disposal and if it's too slow go to
the brush chipper. Both grind organic matter into small pieces for
less cost than any of the several machines you'd need to form and weld
the drums. You could use a blender for the first trial runs.

Compare this to the work of canning the vegetables from a garden. IIRC
it took 2-3 days to process over 1000 square feet of vegetables. I was
little and don't remember it well, but you could ask around.


Posted by Curbie on April 15, 2010, 7:56 pm

Hi Jim,

I was hoping you'd weigh in on this thread, between you and z you've
sparked another design idea (more that in a bit).

I did a lot car racing as a kid (30 years) and for drag cars I'd
replace the sheet and frame from the wheel-wells back, I had the shop
for it then (not now) so although my experience is old (like me) I
have more that a little. I'm not looking to redo a metal-shop (other
than a small drill-press and welder) but rather cad the design and
farm out to have parts cuts and I may do the final welding.

I pulled my garbage-disposer last night to see how it works the design
seems to require liquid to cool the unit and wash away the debris. I
suppose I could re-circulate the juice as liquid, but as far as using
a commercial garbage-disposer I don't think it has anywhere near the
HP or capacity for an acre of 12' fibrous stalks, but I might play
with the design idea some more if it seems better than one of the
other designs.

On the hammer mill design, do you think a gasket cut from an
inner-tube would solve the leak issue??? The hammer mill design has
appeal from a DIY stand-point, but my concerns with that design are 1)
I remember feeding my mother's troy-built mulcher wet yard-waste and
it really bogged-down and gummed-up the machine, it worked, but was a
lot more effort for both machine and operator, and 2) I'm concerned I
won't get the best separation (the amount of juice exiting with the

The design idea sparked by you and z.
Basically, the stalks are feed in from the right are juiced between
the upper and lower sets of rollers (set much closer together) where
the juice drop down and pressed stalks exit through the rolls left.
Both upper and lower rollers rotate in opposite directions and server
to both feed and press the stalks. Obviously none of the designs are
complete or accurate, and won't be until I can focus in on one.


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