Light at the End of the Hazy Tunnel

We went down to city hall Thursday and Friday of last week to get the ball rolling on our permits. First up was the occupancy permit application (not to be confused with the permit itself), followed by the business license application. Before we can get the actual occupancy permit we have to pass our fire inspection, get our depth of health permit from the state of CA, and pass our building inspection. We went through the fire inspection checklist today and ordered our 2A10BC fire extinguisher. It looks like everything else is in order. We should have enough done and in place the call to request our fire and the dept. of health inspections a week from Monday. We can't schedule the final building inspection until after we pass both of those and have the certificates in hand. Our goal is to have everything behind us by the 1st of June. THAT will be cause for serious celebration when it finally happens.

We also received version 2 of our glass winnower tube this week and set it up over the weekend. Here's a link to a short video of it. This one is 6" shorter than version 1, has a 'ski jump' where the feed tube meets the separation tube to improve dispersal and separation (which it does!), has a glass funnel to replace the soda bottle we used to use (it doesn't entirely...), and it has a 45-degree bend at the exit end to kick the nibs forward into the bucket (that works, too!).

What we've learned so far with this version is that our soda bottle funnel was actually part of the reason why version 1 worked -- in addition to serving as a funnel, it also served to restrict the airflow down the feed tube. This matters because more flow in the feed tube means less flow UP the separation tube below the junction. When we tried to run without the restriction (version 2) we had too much husk dropping into the nib bucket. The glass tube made it really easy to see what was going on, so we dropped the top of a soda bottle into the bottom of the glass funnel and voila! In version 3 we'll design it with a smaller feed tube diameter to accomplish this restriction. Another thing we've observed is that our ski-jump is a little more extreme than it needs to be -- the husks and nibs collect behind it sometimes (although they always self clear after a bit). In the next version we'd want to back off on the height of the jump a bit.

We're going to send version 1 back to the glass maker to see if these two changes will help it work with the shorter separation tube (we had to add a PVC extension onto the separation tube of version 1 to get clean separation). If that's not enough we'll work on introducing more turbulence into the flow using inserts of some type -- we've been talking with Clay about different designs and low cost ways to test them (3D printing in particular).

Credit for the y-tube design goes to others -- it's similar to a design the Ben Rasmussen on this forum has used in the past, and is a variation on the theme of some of the other counterflow designs out there -- the only real difference here is that ours is made out of glass so you can see what's going on when you're troubleshooting and making adjustments (and it's just fun to watch!).

Sometime in the next week or two we should get as close to an answer as you ever really get on our trademarks. As soon as we get the word (assuming it's not negative) we'll turn Micelli loose on our molds and will get the ball rolling on our packaging.

Seeing glimmers of light at the end of that long, hazy tunnel(!),

David and Leslie