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Old 01-10-2013, 11:44 PM   #1
lwcm
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Default HERMS thought

So I'm kicking around the idea of building a HERMS system in the future and I had a thought/question: Would it be feasible to use a plate chiller (Therminator, Shirron, etc) as a heat exchanger in such a system? It seemed logical to me that if something could cool wort it could also be used to heat it up.

Am I nuts?

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:54 PM   #2
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Not nuts at all, it is a heat exchanger after all, and a very efficient one. Show us your plans?

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Old 01-10-2013, 11:56 PM   #3
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Well a plate chiller is indeed a heat exchanger just in the opposite direction. The idea of a herms is generally that you use one pump to push your wort through a coil immersed in a hot liquid. You COULD use a plate chiller but you would need two pumps and a constant source of hot water....your HLT. And I doubt it would be as efficient. Also, there would inevitably bits of grain and whatnot gettin pushed through and plate chillers are notoriously easy to clog. Your idea makes perfect sense but I think the traditional coil-in-hot-water is much easier and time-proven.

So yeah, you're kinda nuts. Not crazy though.

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Old 01-11-2013, 12:38 AM   #4
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Don't have plans drawn up yet; just thoughts.

With the clogging issues you described I was pondering using a series of progressively fine filter screens. Or perhaps a false bottom over a pickup tube with SS braid over it. MAYBE a third line of filtering if needed.

Would need two pumps but (I think) the HLT feed pump into the exchanger could be something like this: http://www.harborfreight.com/1000-gp...ump-66095.html Nice and cheap.

The main thrust of the thought is to maximize value by having parts of the brewery do double duty.

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Old 01-14-2013, 06:57 PM   #5
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Keeping the crap out of the plate chiller is a big deal as is making sure that the inside of the plate chiller is sanitized. Personally I find counter flow chillers much less finicky and easier to clean.

One of these guys right after your pump outlet and before your plate chiller could be a great way to go: http://www.brewershardware.com/FILTER1.html. Having it on the outlet of the pump will help prevent cavitation and it might need the pressure if it does start getting clogged; the plate filters will certainly appreciate the extra flow / pressure.

As you said you'd like to maximize value by having part of the brewery do double duty, you could get an extra set of filter nets for one of these guys and use one with your recirculation mash and then swap out another one for out of the boil kettle to help filter out trub and hops; these guys can even be used as very small hopbacks with whole hops -the whole hops will also help the trub filtering action out of the boil kettle.

Just make sure to recirculate some near boiling wort through the filter and plate heat exchanger for a while to fully sanitize in between using them in the mash and boil kettle or you're REALLY inviting infection. If you get the temp too hot you'll get cavitation in your pump; if you don't get it hot enough it won't sanitize unless you recirculate it for a while -balance is needed.

Adam

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Old 01-19-2013, 11:04 PM   #6
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You could use a plate heat exchanger for circulating your mash liquids, but I probably wouldn't use the kind most of us have that are all brazed together unless I had a very fine filter in place. I'd go with the kind that we have at work handling cream cheese mix (which is about 25% solids). The plates are all hung on a frame with EPDM or BUNA gaskets between each plate, then compressed using jack screws into a stack. They're 3A rated from a sanitary perspective, and can be cleaned in place with enough flow and the right dosages of caustic (for the proteins and fats in cheese mix) and acid (for the minerals). You've got the ability to tear them down for hand cleaning if you screw something up and plug them, although it's not something you want to do regularly.

Obviously, then you've got gaskets as a consumable, and to get them to CIP effectively, I want to say we circulate CIP solution at about 3x the flow rates the system sees in production using an auxiliary booster pump. If you're using a normal March pump in your brew setup, assuming you got a plate with at least 1/2 NPT connections, I'd basically max out the flow through the plate using full flow barbs and a submersible type pump for CIP.

Also not cheap, obviously.

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Old 01-19-2013, 11:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwcm View Post
The main thrust of the thought is to maximize value by having parts of the brewery do double duty.
but you'd have to have an extra pump? so your getting extra equipment anyway

Also, that pump probably wont work for you, you need something rated to temps higher than you will be using for you HLT, that one is rate to 77F and is 12V

If it were me and regardless of what I was doing I had to have extra equipment, I would go with something that didnt have moving parts/motor, a coil of copper isnt likely to fail unless you have a bonehead moment and kink it really badly
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwcm View Post
Don't have plans drawn up yet; just thoughts.

With the clogging issues you described I was pondering using a series of progressively fine filter screens. Or perhaps a false bottom over a pickup tube with SS braid over it. MAYBE a third line of filtering if needed.

Would need two pumps but (I think) the HLT feed pump into the exchanger could be something like this: http://www.harborfreight.com/1000-gp...ump-66095.html Nice and cheap.

The main thrust of the thought is to maximize value by having parts of the brewery do double duty.
lwcm,

did you ever give this idea a try? Are you still considering it? I am considering the same thing (using a DudaDeisal plate chiller for mash recirculation) and would appreciate any additional thoughts you have had on the subject.

From what I have understood:

PROS:
-double duty out of one high-performance plate chiller
-faster stepping times (since reservoir can be far smaller than a full HLT)
-compact
-smaller amount of wort inside than both CF and IC (does not matter much if draining through gravity)
-cost effective

CONS:
-need a filter of some sort to avoid clogging by grain particles (biggest disadvantage versus CFC)
-added cost and cleaning complexity of having a filter (though can be used for wort chilling as well)
-cannot be broken down and inspected (kind of a wash with copper CFC - both have a disadvantage versus IC and SS CFC in this respect)
--need a second pump (same as a CFC and typical HLT recirculation system, so basically a wash)
-the biggie - an absolute nightmare if you allow the plate chiller to get clogged in the middle of mashing - this is the biggest disadvantage versus either CFC of IC (but if you do a good job adding the filter, should never occur )
-more complex / time consuming to clean??? I am not clear on this - only those who have used two or three types are really in a position to comment...

best regards,

-fafrd
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Old 02-15-2013, 05:41 PM   #9
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I would advise against it. I originally used a shirron plate chiller in my CB20 configuration that had constant recirculation during the mash and the shirron would clog pretty easily. The plates are just too small. I even tried using a voile curtain in my mash tun to hold the grains back and that worked better, but not perfectly. Ultimately I built a separate HERMS vessel with 20 ft of Home Depot copper and it works flawlessly.

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Old 02-15-2013, 06:05 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarkinBanks View Post
I would advise against it. I originally used a shirron plate chiller in my CB20 configuration that had constant recirculation during the mash and the shirron would clog pretty easily. The plates are just too small. I even tried using a voile curtain in my mash tun to hold the grains back and that worked better, but not perfectly. Ultimately I built a separate HERMS vessel with 20 ft of Home Depot copper and it works flawlessly.
HarkinBanks,

thanks for the advise. I've found a couple brewer's who are using plate chillers for mash recirculation successfully - both of them are using serious 0.5mm in-line filters to keep any grain particles out of the plate chiller (like this one: http://www.brewershardware.com/FILTER1.html). For the cost of a filter like that, I could cover the cost of a 50' SS coil in my HLT, like most are using, but I'm thinking a filter+plate chiller combo would be more flexible and could serve double duty for both mash recirculation and wort chilling.

It's all 6-of-one-half-a-dozen-of-another when it comes to brewing, but with your experience using a plate chiller for mash recirculation, I'd appreciate any further insight you could provide. Aside from the grain particle clogging issue (which is hopefully resolved with a good in-line filter), are there any other concerns you would have about that set-up? It seems like it should work well for heat transfer, for fast response to steps, and for minimizing the mash liquor volume tied up in the coil/chiller. Any other contrasts you can give based on your experience of recirculating through a plate chiller versus a HERMS coil?

thanks,

-fafrd
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