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Old 05-05-2011, 05:14 PM   #1
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Default Freezing an immersion chiller in a bucket of water?

In the spirit of using less energy, and also because I'm lazy, I've been considering trying to chill my wort without running water or electrical input. I usually boil my wort up high on a table so my 1.5 year old son can't reach it. I just installed a weldless shutoff valve on my brew pot, and have considered freezing an immersion chiller or a small finned tube radiator in a bucket of water. On brew day, I'd just route the discharge from the kettle valve thru the wort chiller and into my fermenter. It would also mean I could add my hop back in between the kettle valve and cooler, and have almost instant cool down after the hop back addition.

If the chiller was in a block of ice, I believe the surface of that copper coil would remain very close to freezing. As soon as a little bit of hot wort went thru the coil, there would be a thin layer of 32 degree water around the coil. This layer of water would slowly increase in size, but with the huge heat sink of ice around it, would remain close to freezing.

I guess my questions are: has anyone ever done this? and if so, is 25 or 50 feet of copper tube frozen inside a block of ice a sufficient length to cool wort down to 80 degrees or so based on the relatively slow volume of water that goes thru the chiller because of gravity? It would only be a single pass thru the chiller.

I've already tested the flow principles of this, and there is enough head from the height of the brewpot to flow through all of my devices. I guess I need to test it with real boiling water and a real frozen ice block...

Oh, and I know that the energy used to freeze the block is probably more than a pump would consume

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Old 05-05-2011, 05:25 PM   #2
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That sounds like a fun experiment...I'm sorry I don't have any experience with it to lend but I'll look forward to reading your results!

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Old 05-05-2011, 05:32 PM   #3
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The wort will not exit the chiller at anywhere near pitching temps. I can't imagine you'd get much temp drop on 1 pass. Maybe 10 degrees? I don't know.

You would have to recirculate and likely keep adding ice.

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Old 05-05-2011, 05:34 PM   #4
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I don't doubt this, but I think I am going to have to experiment

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Old 05-05-2011, 05:41 PM   #5
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It will start out good for the first short amount of liquid until the ice starts to melt and then you'll have an issue as it will no longer be touching the ice (the ice is less dense than the water, so as it heats it will pull away from the IC).

The coldest water you can get would work much better.

If you dont mind the corrosion, mix salt into the water and then chill it below freezing, it will work much better. It's colder and you dont have the issues that you would with ice.

Better yet, get some glycol and super chill it and dip the coil in that, or use vodka sense it also has a lowered freezing point compared to water.

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Old 05-05-2011, 05:52 PM   #6
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The thing is, I'm not too concerned about the ice receding away from the coil, because the small volume of water surrounding the coil will be very cold since it is still in contact with a huge chunk of ice...

However, I really like your glycol idea...I could just get one or two gallons of antifreeze, and chill that down to around 15 degrees.

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Old 05-05-2011, 05:58 PM   #7
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Ice is actually a great insulator, and I don't think this will work very well after a minute or two. I thought chilling in a snowbank was a great idea, as we have unlimited amounts of the white stuff. It worked great for about 5 minutes, then the snow that had melted immediately around the pot formed an "igloo" and actually slowed the cooling. I think the same thing would happen with an IC in ice.

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:03 PM   #8
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The heat from the wort will keep the ice melting, but the cold from the ice will not replace the warm water as fast. You'll need to find a way to keep the melted water circulating so it can exchange temperature with the ice. Otherwise, all it's doing is insulating the coil from the ice.

Sounds like a fun experiment! Let us know how it goes.

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:03 PM   #9
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dmmt Yooper! LOL!

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Old 05-05-2011, 06:05 PM   #10
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Yeah, that's why I'm thinking the supercool antifreeze would work better, because you could keep it circulating. It's also a heck of a lot easier to fit a couple gallons of antifreeze in the freezer. I'm going to try it!

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