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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Chillers and Stir Plates > DIY Idea/Theory - Counter Flow Double IMMERSION Chiller
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Old 10-01-2007, 10:05 PM   #1
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Default DIY Idea/Theory - Counter Flow Double IMMERSION Chiller

So, my buddy and I start a conversation about a possible DIY immersion chiller, and little as we know about thermal dynamics, it turned into a lot of "I wonder if..." questions.

Our 14.5g brewpot is custom made (by someone I bought it from used off of ebay a year ago). It's kind of large, circumference wise, and the little itty bitty 3/8" immersion chillers I see in the store don't look like they could handle our pot very well (small tubing, and smallish concentric rings), and they definately don't look like they could handle a full on 10g batch. We are thinking about doing a DIY, but had some questions for some people a lot smarter than us.

1. Our plan was to use 1/2 copper pipe. Does that really work better than the standard 3/8" stuff?

2. Our plan was to have 2 sets of rings, one larger ring to go closer to the sides of the brewpot, and another ring (of possibly smaller copper, maybe not) that resides INSIDE the larger outer ring. Does that sounds like it will cool wort faster than a single 50' of 3/8" pipe?

3. If we ran that water clockwise through the outer ring, and counter clockwise through the inner ring, would it make a difference?

4. If we ran water in the other direction (top to bottom, bottom to top) between the rings, would it make a difference?

Discuss...

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Old 10-01-2007, 11:04 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jezter6
So, my buddy and I start a conversation about a possible DIY immersion chiller, and little as we know about thermal dynamics, it turned into a lot of "I wonder if..." questions.

Our 14.5g brewpot is custom made (by someone I bought it from used off of ebay a year ago). It's kind of large, circumference wise, and the little itty bitty 3/8" immersion chillers I see in the store don't look like they could handle our pot very well (small tubing, and smallish concentric rings), and they definately don't look like they could handle a full on 10g batch. We are thinking about doing a DIY, but had some questions for some people a lot smarter than us.

1. Our plan was to use 1/2 copper pipe. Does that really work better than the standard 3/8" stuff?
Not really. Smaller tubing is better because you have more surface area in contact with the wort than you would if you had larger tubing. The more surface area you have in contact with the wort, the more efficient the heat transfer will be and the faster yoou will cool the wort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jezter6
2. Our plan was to have 2 sets of rings, one larger ring to go closer to the sides of the brewpot, and another ring (of possibly smaller copper, maybe not) that resides INSIDE the larger outer ring. Does that sounds like it will cool wort faster than a single 50' of 3/8" pipe?
That sounds like a good idea to me. I've been thinking of doing something similar myself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jezter6
3. If we ran that water clockwise through the outer ring, and counter clockwise through the inner ring, would it make a difference?
After rereading the post it occurred to me that I had completely misread what you had written. I don't think it would matter if the inner ring went one direction while the outer ring went another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jezter6
4. If we ran water in the other direction (top to bottom, bottom to top) between the rings, would it make a difference?
This doesn't sound like a very good system to me. I think it would actually take longer to cool the wort than a regular IC. You would end up cooling the wort on one pass then reheating it on another.
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Old 10-02-2007, 12:04 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by eddie
Not really. Smaller tubing is better because you have more surface area in contact with the wort than you would if you had larger tubing. The more surface area you have in contact with the wort, the more efficient the heat transfer will be and the faster yoou will cool the wort.
I'll buy that! We thought pushing more water through, with a big surface area of a higher diameter hose would work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie
That sounds like a good idea to me. I've been thinking of doing something similar myself.
I figured it would be more efficient (but costly in material) to have 2 chillers at the same time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie
After rereading the post it occurred to me that I had completely misread what you had written. I don't think it would matter if the inner ring went one direction while the outer ring went another.
My roommate theorized something about heating/cooling water causes some sort of current in the pot. Not sure why, but he figured the cold wort would somehow move away from the coil and draw the warmer wort in for some reason. Again, I dunno, it was a crazy (drunk) theory.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie

This doesn't sound like a very good system to me. I think it would actually take longer to cool the wort than a regular IC. You would end up cooling the wort on one pass then reheating it on another.
I guess I didn't explain my idea well enough. The water would be split at the water IN side, pushing half the water into the inner, and half the water to the outer. The pipes would then meet up near the water out side and have a single water in/out hose controlling what is now 2 separate chillers split from 1 water supply.

My theory is if you start cold water at the bottom and push UP the coils on the outer, the top portion of the kettle is not as cooled. If you, in turn, push the water top DOWN in the other coil, then the top would be cooled by 1 chiller, and the bottom cooled by the other.

Does it make sense now?
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Old 10-02-2007, 12:23 AM   #4
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I've made a chiller like you're describing and it works fine but it does obstruct your ability to whirlpool the wort for faster cooling. I figured that the two diameter coils would more widely pull heat, but you still need the wort moving to kill the stratafication.

Cooling is all about the tap water temp. If you have warm tap say above 70F, a longer IC doesn't really help because at some point the cooling water will hit 80F and now you're subject to diminishing returns for every additional foot of copper. I'd recommend 25' of 1/2" and a pond/utility pump to pump icewater if your tap is any higher than 70F.

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Old 10-02-2007, 12:34 AM   #5
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Tapwater here isn't too bad, as long as you run the hose for 30 seconds to get the topmost warmer water out of the way.

It's not about not being able to cool it. It's about cooling it as fast as we can that this idea sprang from. Unfortunately, I'm not rich, so buying a buttload of copper to 'test' my theory is kinda out of the question.

My kettle is ~15" is diameter, so I was thinking something around a 14" coil around the outer, and maybe an 8 inch coil for the inner, giving 6" of clearance for whirlpooling.

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Old 10-02-2007, 12:40 AM   #6
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I might be missing something here, but I think you would have more surface area with a larger diameter tube. The surface area of a cylinder increases as the diameter increases. I have been thinking about making my own IC using 1/2" copper, but it is cheaper right now for me to buy one from Midwest with the way copper prices are here locally.

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Old 10-02-2007, 01:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eddie
Not really. Smaller tubing is better because you have more surface area in contact with the wort than you would if you had larger tubing. The more surface area you have in contact with the wort, the more efficient the heat transfer will be and the faster you will cool the wort.
Quote:
Originally Posted by TWilson
I might be missing something here, but I think you would have more surface area with a larger diameter tube. The surface area of a cylinder increases as the diameter increases.
You're both sorta right. Given the same length tubing and same fluid velocity, as tubing size increases, the relative volume of cooling water that actually contacts the interior surface of the tubing decreases. However, the outer surface area exposed to the wort increases. So, cooling ability will tend to increase greatly with small increases in tubing diameter, but a large increase in tubing diameter may actually have the opposite effect.

In practical terms, the difference between 1/4" and 3/8" tubing is quite significant and usually results in better cooling rates. The difference between 3/8" and 1/2" tubing may not be so dramatic and is probably not worth the cost difference.
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Old 10-02-2007, 01:36 AM   #8
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I made a dual-coil immersion chiller, as I found the thin fridge tubing dirt-cheap at the Depot (when they couldn't tell me how much it was, they sold it for less than half price). It works great, I'm chilled to the mid-70s in not much more than 10 minutes, which as far as I'm concerned is just about as good as it gets.

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Old 10-02-2007, 02:09 AM   #9
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I made a dual-coil immersion chiller, as I found the thin fridge tubing dirt-cheap at the Depot (when they couldn't tell me how much it was, they sold it for less than half price). It works great, I'm chilled to the mid-70s in not much more than 10 minutes, which as far as I'm concerned is just about as good as it gets.
Do you have pics?
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:50 AM   #10
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Give me a day or two; I've got one last modification to make (gotta add some bracing), the material should be here tomorrow.

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