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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Building my own glycol chiller
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:52 PM   #1
JeremyHB
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Default Building my own glycol chiller

I have a 1bbl system in the works. I already have two 36 gal ss fermentation tanks and a 160 qt kettle retrofitted to boil over a 75,000 btu propane heater. 150 qt mash tun in a chest cooler with a braid to drain.

My question is this: I really have no acceptable and inexpensive way to chill 30ish gallons of hot wort, so I have an idea to build my own glycol type chiller.
Going to take a small chest freezer and put a 10 gal plastic bucket it it and fill it with red antifreze. Then I will use a aquarium pump to circulate the chilled solution through tubing that has been coiled around the high temp hosing that will run from my kettle to my primary. Of course I will also put an o2 stone in the line as well to oxygenate at the end after the wort has been cooled.

My real question is will this type of system cool the wort as much as I need it to be on its way to primary? The hose to primary will be 1/2" and approximately 18 feet long and will be coiled with about 300+ feet of tightly wrapped tubing on a closed circuit containing the chilled liquid.
on the return to the chest freezer it will run outside this coiled tubing as I will be jacketing the main line and running the glycol return on the outside of the jacket.

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance. I will post pics when I build.

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Old 12-10-2010, 03:52 AM   #2
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I certainly didn't use 300 feet as you plan to, but I tried to build a makeshift beer line chiller using water in a chest freezer and it just wouldn't work for what I needed. 300' is quite a distance but I would be surprised if the chest freezer could keep up with that. Glycol chillers have the cooling coils directly in contact with the water/antifreeze.

You may already know this but be sure to use a mixture of water and antifreeze rather than just antifreeze. Antifreeze doesn't freeze which is good but water has a better heat transfer. For what you are trying to do, you might not even need antifreeze. In your setup, do you expect the water to go below 32?

I really hope I'm wrong - it is entirely possible. Is a counterflow or plate chiller really a problem? I've heard of people draining as fast as they can with the chiller keeping up.

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Old 12-10-2010, 04:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeremyHB View Post
I have a 1bbl system in the works. I already have two 36 gal ss fermentation tanks and a 160 qt kettle retrofitted to boil over a 75,000 btu propane heater. 150 qt mash tun in a chest cooler with a braid to drain.

My question is this: I really have no acceptable and inexpensive way to chill 30ish gallons of hot wort, so I have an idea to build my own glycol type chiller.
Going to take a small chest freezer and put a 10 gal plastic bucket it it and fill it with red antifreze. Then I will use a aquarium pump to circulate the chilled solution through tubing that has been coiled around the high temp hosing that will run from my kettle to my primary. Of course I will also put an o2 stone in the line as well to oxygenate at the end after the wort has been cooled.

My real question is will this type of system cool the wort as much as I need it to be on its way to primary? The hose to primary will be 1/2" and approximately 18 feet long and will be coiled with about 300+ feet of tightly wrapped tubing on a closed circuit containing the chilled liquid.
on the return to the chest freezer it will run outside this coiled tubing as I will be jacketing the main line and running the glycol return on the outside of the jacket.

Any input would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance. I will post pics when I build.
A true Glycol chiller uses a heat pump to cool the glycol. What you're describing doesn't require, and would actually suffer from a glycol solution for two reasons. As already stated, glycol doesn't transfer heat quite as efficiently, and its increased viscosity reduces pumping efficiency. The ambient temp in a chest freezer will not keep a bucket of any fluid cool when you are adding heat to it at the rate you're talking about, and you'll get terrible heat transfer with one tube wrapped around another. Heat transfer hinges largely on contact surface area, and you just won't have much.

Sorry to sound so negative about your idea, I'd just hate to see someone blow time and energy on something which has little hope of succeeding.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:28 AM   #4
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The biggest issue with your proposed setup is that a chest freezer can only chill the air inside, and air is VERY bad at conducting heat. Take an oven for example: you can stick your hand inside an oven at 400+ F for several seconds before you get burned. 400 F steam, on the other hand, will land you in the hospital.

Knowing this, my prediction is that the coolant bucket will warm up rapidly and become ineffective at drawing heat out of the wort as a result. The transfer of heat from the wort into the coolant will be very rapid, but the transfer of heat from the coolant into the air inside the freezer and then into the evaporator coil in the freezer walls will be negligible.

If you want to see what I mean, boil up a 5 gallon pot of water and put it in your chest freezer. Come back in a couple of hours. The compressor will be running non-stop, but the inside of the freezer will be at or above room temperature and the water will still be very warm.

What you really need is the evaporator coil to be immersed directly in the coolant. That will ensure the fastest possible transfer of heat out of the coolant. If you could fill the freezer directly with coolant and skip the bucket, you'd have a better shot at making this work, but I'm not sure how much. You're still having to dump the heat to atmosphere at the last stage of the process, and that'll become your limiting factor.

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Old 12-10-2010, 04:42 AM   #5
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Why not just use a plate chiller?

A lot simpler and it would work well wouldn't it?

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Old 12-10-2010, 05:12 AM   #6
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Your profile says you live in Minnesota. Isn't your ground water pretty damn cold year-round there? Here in Seattle, even in the middle of the summer, I can chill 10 gallons of wort to under 70 F in about 20 minutes using my 25 foot CFC and cold tap water. I would imagine that a properly sized CFC or plate chiller would work fine for your application.

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Old 12-10-2010, 05:37 PM   #7
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I have a 1 barrel system and live next door in hudson, wi. I use a plate chiller and can chill 35 gallons of wort to 60F in about 30 minutes. I use a therminator but there other chillers available on ebay, etc that can do the job.

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Old 12-10-2010, 06:12 PM   #8
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Plate chiller for cooling wort on the way to the fermenter, glycol/water (more like 30 gallons+?) for fermentation temp control.

Someone on here took two sizes of conicals and welded them together, to make an insulated layer - then pumped glycol from a chest freezer into the space between. If I'm not mistaken, that chest freezer was FULL of glycol - a hundred gallons?....and that was just for ferm temps.

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Old 12-11-2010, 01:18 AM   #9
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Two things to mention,
The guy I brew with is insane about wasting water. And since our rig will be at his house technically it's his water we would be wasting. How much water do you think I would use cooling 1bbl of wort?

The other thing is that for this set up I already own all the equipment to do this so the only purchase necessary would be the coolant.

I do not plan on using the freezer to actively cool the coolant, only to chill down the coolant well in advance and then to recollect it when it returns in a separate bucket from the pre-chilled stuff. I would love to have a plate chiller, but in the interim this soultion is certainly cheaper, if it is possible...

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Old 12-11-2010, 05:32 AM   #10
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Assuming 100% heat transfer, if you ran 30 gal of 50/50 glycol water blend, you would only get a little less than halfway between your chest freezer temp and 212, assuming that your chest freezer is not providing any additional cooling. This means that your chest freezer setpoint would need to be below -70F...

You could do what I do. I have 3 55 gal rain barrels on my patio for watering the garden. When they're full I use a cheap sump pump to recirc water through my cfc back into the first barrel. They're all daisy chained together, so I have 150ish gallons of water at ambient to absorb all that heat. When they're low or empty, like in the summer, I run my hose through the chiller, then the output goes into the rain barrels to be re-used in the garden.

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