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Old 06-27-2011, 04:50 PM   #1
kpr121
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Default Using IC/MLT as fermentation water chiller

I posted this in the Water fermentation chiller thread but would like to ask the questions here seperately:

Does anyone use the following as fermentation control or have any opinions/ideas? I want to use my immersion chiller and pond pump set up as is without much modification. If I put the IC copper coil in my 10g water cooler mash tun filled with ice water, the pump in my Rubbermaid container where the fermenters are, and plug the pump into an ebay temperature controller, theoretically it should work correct?

This way I don’t have to worry about overflow pipes, both containers can stay on the floor, and all the water being pumped will end up right back where it came from. The only issue I can see is stratification of the chilling water in the mash tun, but I think it should still work. I guess if its taking too long I could throw a small aquarium pump in the cooler to keep the ice water turbulent.

I figure this is the best way to use the equipment I already have, and since I almost never do back to back days of brewing, the equipment can basically be utilized at all times. If I brew the following week, usually the beer has fermented to FG and temp control is not as necessary. So I would be pulling the first batch out of the Rubbermaid, and replacing it with the new batch. After cleaning the IC and mash tun, it goes back to fermentation chill mode. (This would give me incentive to clean my equipment right away as well lol).

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Old 06-27-2011, 04:52 PM   #2
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Heres a sketch of what I am thinking:


BTW I frequently do 10 gallon batches, and currently use the rubbermaid container as a swamp chiller to chill two buckets at the same time. In the recent heat, I've had to change frozen water bottles up to 3 times a day. Hopefully with this setup I can partially enclose the rubbermaid container (at least put a blanket over it, and possibly insulate the outside walls as well). If I can get away with a constant temperature while only having to change ice once every couple day, I will be ecstatic!

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Old 06-28-2011, 02:54 AM   #3
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well after all of 15 minutes I had this up and running tonight. It took nearly 5 lbs of ice cubes to get down to 64 from 68, but did so through the chiller in under an hour. I must say I think this is going to work, at the very least it's better than swapping ice directly in the rubbermaid blind to what temperature swings will happen.

I'll take pics tomorrow with my new sony camera that's coming in the mail if anyone is interested.

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Old 06-28-2011, 03:14 AM   #4
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i'll be interested in seeing this.

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Old 06-28-2011, 03:30 AM   #5
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Thanks for the interest. I guess one issue I can already foresee being possible is keeping the chill water from getting gunky. Bleach won't work well in the copper correct? I guess I could use starsan but hate wasting that. Or is it really that big of a deal?

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Old 06-28-2011, 01:13 PM   #6
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Temperatures held fairly steady overnight, although it seems to be melting ice pretty quickly. At 11 PM I added a frozen two liter (all of the ice was melted), and this morning at 7 the temp was around 64 (set temp at 62.6 F). The chill water had risen above the set temp so the pump was just running and adding heat.

I added another 5 lbs of ice, another frozen 2 liter, and a small ice pack that was in the freezer since I will be away from the house over 12 hours today.

I think it will be easy to maintain temperature within a degree as long as I can keep the chill water cold. I need to work on better insulation, the wrapping with sleeping bags isn’t cutting it. Ambient temps of over 80 don’t help.

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Old 06-28-2011, 01:21 PM   #7
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I was actually thinking of doing something kinda like this. I like the idea of water cooling a lot better than air cooling for fermentation. What pond pump do you have? Also, how do your run your hoses into your MLT? Definitely looking forward to pictures.

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Old 06-28-2011, 01:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phenry View Post
I was actually thinking of doing something kinda like this. I like the idea of water cooling a lot better than air cooling for fermentation. What pond pump do you have? Also, how do your run your hoses into your MLT? Definitely looking forward to pictures.
Its the Harbor Freight pump, here:
http://www.harborfreight.com/264-gph...ump-68395.html

Right now the hoses are just draped over the top of the open MLT, and the whole thing is covered with a sleeping bag. I think I am going to cut out a piece of rigid styrofoam insulation in a circle that has holes or slots for the pipe connections.

Hoses are connected to the IC via garden hose, PEX tubing and sharkbite fittings. The IC has sharkbite connections, that go to the PEX, and the garden hose slides right over the PEX. You don't really need hose clamps but I use em.

Hopefully I get my camera and can take pics tonight.
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpr121 View Post
well after all of 15 minutes I had this up and running tonight. It took nearly 5 lbs of ice cubes to get down to 64 from 68, but did so through the chiller in under an hour.
For the initial chill, I'd add ice directly to the fermentor side. You won't need the control until you get close to target - no sense running the pump so much and adding heat which just melts ice.

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The chill water had risen above the set temp so the pump was just running and adding heat.
Hmmm, that's a problem. Hopefully, better insulation will hold you until you can refill the ice. I'd also experiment with my earlier suggestion of putting the probe right near the cold water output tube. That 200+ GPH pump will pump the cold water out of the IC in no time, a small 'dose' of cold water should bring down the temp in the bath quick. Beyond that, the pump is adding heat.

-kenc
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Old 06-28-2011, 02:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kenc_zymurgy View Post
For the initial chill, I'd add ice directly to the fermentor side. You won't need the control until you get close to target - no sense running the pump so much and adding heat which just melts ice.
Yep, I will probably do this in the future. I was just interested to see how quickly it could cool through the IC.
Quote:
Originally Posted by kenc_zymurgy View Post
Hmmm, that's a problem. Hopefully, better insulation will hold you until you can refill the ice. I'd also experiment with my earlier suggestion of putting the probe right near the cold water output tube. That 200+ GPH pump will pump the cold water out of the IC in no time, a small 'dose' of cold water should bring down the temp in the bath quick. Beyond that, the pump is adding heat.

-kenc
Yep, if you go down this route you need to keep the chill water in the MLT lower than the set temp. Better insulation and possibly a smaller footprint of ferment container would help this. My next batch will be 5 gallons and I will use my Igloo Cube cooler instead of the 20-30 gallon uninsulated rubbermaid. I can imagine that will be much more efficient.
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