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Old 01-11-2011, 03:03 AM   #1
Mista_Sparkle
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Default Closed loop evaporative wort chiller

Reading the forums, I noticed that a lot of people were feeling somewhat guilty about all the water that they go through chilling their beer. As a good engineer interested in thermodynamics, I decided that I would take a shot at tackling this problem. Since many of the people with the water issues were in warm climates with fairly warm water temperatures tended to be in the southwest, I decided that an evaporative chiller would be the easiest and most effective way to go.

My cooling system consists of the following parts connected in this order
1: High head pump (115' head, 650GPH))
2: Wort chiller (I used an immersion chiller but a counterflow or other isolated chiller would work as well)
3: Spray head (constructed out of PVC, 1/8" hole with flat surface to disperse water, I used a 14 Ga. copper wire)
4: Spray Column (used some circular duct from an old furnace install)
5: Reservoir (An old trash can in my case, I cleaned it, but it doesn't really matter)

The idea is to pump the water through the chiller and disperse it into a fine mist while moving massive amounts of air to evaporate as much water as possible. Each pond of water evaporated removes about 1000 BTU from the environment in the form of a temperature drop. With evaporative cooling, it is possible to cool the working fluid down to the dew point so that means you can cool below the outside temperature which can be very significant in dry climates.

I have some pics of the rig following


(if you don't see the facebook pics ill load them up somewhere else)
The rig worked very well, however it should be noted that we were working in 20 degree weather. We were able to cool 5 gallons of beer from 180 to 80 in about 6 minutes which is on par with what I was able to achieve with straight well water. We did have a failure in the system as one of the hoses obtained from the trash essentially burst in use but lasted long enough for some results.

Some other relevant info:
With the mist nozzle on, flow rates of 4GPM were obtained. this was using a 1/8" orifice.
Estimated airflow would be between 400 and 600CFM without any fans etc...

One of my friends recorded a video which follows, we do have a better one that someone else took, but its not available to me at the moment.

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Old 01-11-2011, 03:18 AM   #2
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Wow... I was actually thinking about this the other day and thought it would be cool. Sweet thing to say to someone who ask.. "oh that, thats just my cooling tower to cool my wort!"
Good work, got to watch the video when I get home from work!

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Old 01-11-2011, 03:24 AM   #3
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I suppose that I should also mention that it was able too cool my beer with 4 gallons of water and most likely would have used much much less if not for the massive leak in one of my hoses

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Old 01-11-2011, 03:53 AM   #4
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Hey Mista_Sparkle, finally got that other video you mentioned up on YouTube.

It's shorter, but you can see a bit more detail:

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Old 01-11-2011, 12:24 PM   #5
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This is very interesting. Do you have any close ups of the spray nozzle?

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Old 01-11-2011, 03:30 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpr121 View Post
This is very interesting. Do you have any close ups of the spray nozzle?
Sure do. I'll get them up later today.
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Old 01-11-2011, 11:34 PM   #7
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Another shot of it in use. Turned 4 gallons of 70 degree water to slush in 10 minutes. It was 6 out so that helped

Close up of the nozzle


Pic of testing this summer


This is what I based the nozzle design on. It seems to work pretty well
http://www.bete.com/products/p.html

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Old 01-12-2011, 12:48 AM   #8
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So its just a PVC cap with a copper wire. Is the wire depressed into the hole? Or offset somewhat? Is the ducting necessary or would this work if you just sprayed it back into the container?

Sorry for all the questions, but I am really interested in this. I learned about evaporative cooling in thermo and other classes, but this almost seems too good to be true.

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Old 01-12-2011, 12:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kpr121 View Post
So its just a PVC cap with a copper wire. Is the wire depressed into the hole? Or offset somewhat? Is the ducting necessary or would this work if you just sprayed it back into the container?

Sorry for all the questions, but I am really interested in this. I learned about evaporative cooling in thermo and other classes, but this almost seems too good to be true.
The wire is cut flat and located about 1/4" away from the hole. The piece of ducting helps to move a lot of air. Originally I was going to use a fan blowing against the spray but using it in the current config works pretty well. If the ducting wasn't there, the air wouldn't be cycled through the system and the effectiveness would drop probably significantly.
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:02 AM   #10
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Okay so the only thing pushing (or pulling) the air is basically a venturi effect?

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