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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Steam Injected Mash System
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Old 12-19-2006, 08:12 AM   #1
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Default Steam Injected Mash System

In case someone is interested, I've done the preliminary analysis and investigation and I'm going to be building a steam boiler from a corny keg to supply steam for heating my mash.

Its not nearly as scary as it sounds.

Description

The corny keg will get a 4.5KW hot water heater element installed in the bottom. A temperature sensor will be installed in the top. A small $35 computer will monitor the temp (and other things about the brewing process) and turn the heater element on and off with a set point of 240F. A laptop computer will be used to control and monitor the process computer.

The pressure in the keg will be about 10 PSI. Corny kegs are rated for 130 PSI. A 15 PSI pressure relief valve will be installed to prevent any over pressure situations from occurring. Keep in mind that this is less pressure than a typical automotive cooling system. The keg will be pressure tested to 30 PSI with tap water before being fired up.

The keg will be equipped with a simple valve manual or computer controlled on-off valve for delivering the steam to the mash.

Parts List

The parts list is this thus far (McMasterCarr part numbers where applicable.)

1 good corny keg
1 4.5 KW hot water heater element, screw in (3555K32) $6.80
1 self sealing nut (5530K23) $4.90
1 pressure relief valve (4893K25) $7.70
1 bulk head fitting, nickel finish 5483K93 $9.80 for 2
5 feet high temp NFS hose 3184K1 $1.47 per foot
1 high temp electric solenoid valve 4807t21 $51.02

There are a few misc fittings missing from this list as well as the computer and relays or SCRs for turning the heater and control valve on and off. Temperature measurement will be done with a $3 thermistor.

Usage

The computer will be programmed from a PC to bring the strike water in the HLT and boiler up to their start temps (135F and 240F) respectively. It will take about 20 minutes to bring a nearly full keg up to 240F. The HLT will be electric heat as well, so that will take another 15 minutes or so.

Dough in will occur. There will be a temp sensor in the mash vessel, actually multiple of them on a floating thermometer setup.

When the computer senses a temperature differential in the bed, it will turn on the recirc pump to even things out.

When the computer senses the bed is too cool, it will modulate the steam valve a few times, injecting some steam, to heat it up.

As soon as the temp in the boiler drops, the heating element will be turned on to bring it back up.

At the first mash temp step the computer will change the temp setpoint from 130 to 155F and open the steam valve accordingly. The recirc pump will kick in. The operator will be encouraged to stir the bed.

The thermodynamics are such that the steam created from a corny nearly full of 240F water is enough to heat the mash from strike temp to mash out. The steam can be added as fast or slow as desired by throttling the flow. It will be possible to raise the temp of a bed containing 10 pounds of grain by over 20F per minute. Gone are the days of waiting around for the bed to get to the next temp. Multiple temp mash schedules should be a breeze.

The amount of water in the injected steam to heat the mash from strike to mash out will be small, less than a quart.

The boiler will contain 15 Litres of 210F water at the end of the mash out. It can be used for cleaning or sterilizing the counter flow chiller. It could also be used to top up the boiler if the sparge volume is less than the boil volume.

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Old 12-19-2006, 08:30 AM   #2
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This is going to be one hell of a system.

I'm gathering bits and cropping ideas. There's no way I'm going all the way with it but I reckon I can use some of the ideas.

Are the controller and software going to specific and hard wired for the system you build or d you think it'll be adaptable to lesser/other systems?

Are you still going with the SIMS tag?

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Old 12-19-2006, 08:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Are the controller and software going to specific and hard wired for the system you build or d you think it'll be adaptable to lesser/other systems?
The controller will be the arduino board I've spoke of before. I'll make my code for it and the Java GUI that runs on the laptop open source. People can do what they want with it.

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Are you still going with the SIMS tag?
Until someone gives me a better acronym ! I'd like to call it SIMPLE or something like that.
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Old 12-19-2006, 09:04 AM   #4
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MISH: Mash Injected Steam Heating.

You could MISH your mashing ! or MISH mashing. Try saying that 5 times after drinking 4 homebrews.

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Old 12-19-2006, 09:35 AM   #5
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I have yet to brew an all grain, so I may show my ignorance. I understand that when the mash reaches 170F, something happens to the enzymes. Will injecting 240F steam be bad for the areas right by the steam injectors?

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Old 12-19-2006, 12:47 PM   #6
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Is the Ardino board capable of self tuning? I am assuming it is a PID?

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Old 12-19-2006, 05:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
I have yet to brew an all grain, so I may show my ignorance. I understand that when the mash reaches 170F, something happens to the enzymes.
According to Dave Miller, they stop functioning. That is why the mash out temp is set there.

Quote:
Will injecting 240F steam be bad for the areas right by the steam injectors?
Truthfully, I don't know what short term exposure to 240F would do to the mash. I know that people run RIM systems or use a heatstick and the temps are way higher than that in the vicinity of the element. Ditto for the bottom of the pot when its on the stove. So I think that 240F will be OK.

Quote:
Is the Ardino board capable of self tuning? I am assuming it is a PID?
*chuckle No, the Ardiuno won't be self tuning. It needs to be programmed a bit. Its not a conventional PID controller, although we could put a PID algorithm in it. Truthfully, I am not sure that a PID controller would work for the steam process. I guess I'll see what the temp response is to steam injection.

http://www.arduino.cc/

For those that are afraid of "programming", this might be interesting
http://www.arduino.cc/en/uploads/Boo..._booklet02.pdf
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Old 12-19-2006, 05:25 PM   #8
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Will the corny seals hold up to the heat?

Remember the Challenger!

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Old 12-19-2006, 06:11 PM   #9
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Ahh, k so basically an i/o board that is easily integrated with a pc. Most controllers I have seen are PID. Sounds like you've got lots of work ahead hehe (fun project btw). The step response is probably a good place to begin, and hopefully you won't have to get terribly complicated, although to hit your mashes without overshoot will be interesting because your amount of grain will usually be different. Geez I miss control systems stuff.

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Old 12-19-2006, 06:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by olllllo
Will the corny seals hold up to the heat?

Remember the Challenger!
Buna N seals are good to 250F operating temp.

http://www.marcorubber.com/materialguide.htm
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