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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > DIY Projects > Fermenters > Temperature Controlled Plastic Conical
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:31 PM   #1
TreeBridge
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Default Temperature Controlled Plastic Conical

So, the next step to the brewery is a temperature controlled 40 gallon plastic conical fermentor. I wanted to shoot my ideas off and see what the community thought.

We will be using this to ferment ales. If possible we would like to be able to crash cool it (40F-35F) before hitting the kegs.
The plan is to chill it with a 35-50ft stainless steel coil submerged in the fermenting beer. Ideally we want the coil drop into the cone. The coil will come out the side of the fermentor so we can make a closed connection to a reservoir or propylene glycol inside a small freezer. We were thinking about using 3 gallons of glycol.

I believe the pump we were going to go with is a magnetic drive pump similar to a march pump. I can get more info on this later.

Do you think a bcs-460 would be appropriate to control this? We do plan on getting more of these fermentors if we have good results.

Does this sound reasonable?

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Old 11-07-2012, 07:19 PM   #2
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Oh...forgot to mention we want to insulate the tank. So far i like the the foil bubble wrap. I believe they are called radiant insulators. I like this better than fiberglass hot water tank wrap because i think it will be easier to clean.

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Old 11-07-2012, 08:32 PM   #3
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Are you going to make the coil removable?
Yes, I agree submerging the coil is best (as opposed to wrapping the exterior).
Depending on your lid size, you could make a coil that drops down into the brew from above, which would be easy to pull and clean.

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Old 11-07-2012, 08:53 PM   #4
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The coil will be inserted in the top and we were going to drill holes on the side. I also had the idea of bring the coils through the lid so it could be removed, but my brewing partner thought it would be better to come through the side. He doesn't think we will have to remove it often for cleaning. We'll probably use a CIP ball to clean.

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Old 11-07-2012, 10:28 PM   #5
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I have a similar setup for my 1.5 BBL batches. In my experience, you won't need that long of a coil, but you will need a larger glycol batch if you are using a chest freezer to chill the glycol. I have about a 25' length of 3/8" SS coil mounted through the lid and 15 gallons of glycol in a tub inside a chest freezer for my setup. The glycol is pumped through the coil with a small aquarium pump submersed in the bath and controlled by a Johnson A419 controller. The BCS would have no problems controlling it though. I have a BCS-460, but never moved the fermenter over to it as I am maxed out on temp probes and outputs for the hot side.

The setup works OK, but I max out the chilling capacity pretty quick. Is your 3 gallons the total bath volume or is it the amount of concentrated glycol you are purchasing (since you can dilute with distilled water for whatever temp you are holding it at)? If it is concentrated, that will give you a few more gallons after diluting.

Depending on the ground water temps and what temp the wort ends up in the fermenter after running through the Therminator, I can get to pitching temp (low-60's) and maintain fermentation temp, but that is about it. I can't crash cool before kegging. The BTU's just aren't there. I think 3 gallons would really struggle to drop and hold temps, if it could do it at all. In my case, what happens is the temp of the glycol bath warms up (very fast) from 0*F to around 50-60*F while crashing to pitching temps. Then over the course of fermenation and a few days, it will slowly recover and start dropping again, but there is no actual cooling capacity. I have found I can drop temps around 15 degrees max and still maintain fermentation temps, but that is about it. If you can get the wort in the fermenter at pitching temps, it helps immensely. In the heat of the southern CA summer, it struggles. During the winter time it works much better as I don't get that BTU zap by having to initially drop the wort temp so much.

I've had this setup for quite a while now, but I am finally getting around to configuring a new setup. I picked up a flash chiller for beer a long time ago (basically a refrigerated jockey box) that I have always planned to convert to a glycol chiller. This should be much more efficient, and I am hoping I can finally crash cool as the glycol should always be a steady consistent temp of around 28*F.

One other comment, I don't know if I would mount the coil through the side. You will be surprised how often you might need to get into the tank. I use a sprayball as well, but I still take the entire thing out quite often to make sure it is clean.

Hope that helps.

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Old 11-08-2012, 01:09 AM   #6
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Why do you think 50' of stainless is too long? Because of the space it takes up in the fermentor? Or do you think the thermodynamics of the heat transfer in the fermentor doesn't necessitate that amount of surface area?

Also how did you deal with the transition between the stainless and whatever other material you use for piping? We were thinking about either using copper or pex for the circuit outside the fermenter and using some sort of union to connect the two. From what I have read soldiering stainless isn't as easy as copper. My plumber friend seems to think that sharkbite fittings wouldn't work either since stainless is so much harder a material.

Also I was considering using a grundfos circulation pump for the system (a standard type of boiler system pump) but from what I understand they normally operate on a 1" plus pipe size circuit possibly causing a problem with either pressure or air pockets. Although it would be nice to have the capacity should we get several fermenters down the line that might need cooled.

Ive seen alot of people using the march pumps although I wasn't sure whether or not they can be manipulated by a controller. The GPM seemed a little low on them too but then again I guess we wouldn't need too much if your talking about the cooling capacity of a small volume of water/glycol like we are.

Did you buy your glycol online? Are you using Propylene as well?

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Old 11-08-2012, 05:24 PM   #7
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Zymurguy, you made some good points. We plan on buy 3 gallons and diluting it. I really like your jockey box idea. I was worried about the temperature drop in the reservoir.
We are going to look into the jockey box idea now. We would go with a stainless steel coil in the fermentor and a 100ft copper coil (assuming it is safe for use with glycol) for the jockey box. Do you plan to use a smaller reservoir with the jockey box?

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Old 11-09-2012, 04:40 PM   #8
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LettersNumbersAndSymbols - for the length, yes to both of your questions.

For the transition pieces, here is a picture of the top of the lid:


underneath the lid:


and what the coil looks like inside the fermenter:


I had the same coil inside my old plastic conical. I just moved it over when I upgraded.

I am using propylene glycol and originally purchased through Foxx.

TreeBridge - Is this for commercial use? I'd maybe look into the chill packs/glycol coolers used for draft beer systems. I've used the UBC packs for long draw systems and they work well. http://rochesterstorefixture.com/images/Page_46-47.pdf. Micromatic has them as well. If I hadn't found this other chiller, that is the route I would go.

I will still use a reservoir. For now I just need it to chill one fermenter, so I plan to constantly recirculate through the chiller into the reservoir, and then pump from the reservoir through the fermenter coil as needed to control temps. Long term though I want to build a glycol manifold for a couple more fermenters and my Therminator.

I'll have to post some pics when I get it all done.

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Old 11-09-2012, 06:03 PM   #9
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that is a nice looking set up. I will be using it the home for now. I have plans to go commercial but i'm not ready yet. This is our prototype brewery for recipe design. Eventually we will add more fermentors.

We wanted to save some money and skip on the glycol chiller for now. We were hoping for similar results as well, but it seems that may be out of reach.

From that link you sent me i was looking at UBC-25-1vp-lp and UBC-75-1vp-lp. Would either of those work? Perhaps i'm missing the picture.

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Old 11-09-2012, 06:07 PM   #10
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I would think the UBC-25-1vp-lp would work, but if it is just for home and prototyping (sounds like we have the same plan), add a few more gallons of glycol (maybe five gallons glycol and five gallons distilled water) in the freezer and you will likely have something that will get you started. You may have to tweak it a bit over time, but it does definitely work. I've been running it this way for several years, I am just to the point where I want to get a bit more out of it.

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