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Old 02-28-2008, 05:04 AM   #1
Chilkoot
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Default Co2 Wort Chiller

I've been doing a little lurking, and the preferred method of wort chilling seems to be running cold water through length of copper pipe, taking about 15 minutes. While this certainly works, it seems to me that Co2 would be a much faster cooling medium.

The idea would be nearly identical to a standard wort chiller, except instead of connecting the chiller up to a faucet or fountain pump you hook up a bottle filled with liquid Co2, either a scuba or the 4 - 20oz varieties used with paintball guns. The phase change from a liquid to a gas requires a lot of energy, and as it runs through the copper pipe the conversion will reduce the pipe's temperature drastically and nearly instantly. It seems to me with a quick enough bleed you could get the wort to room temperature in MUCH less than 15 minutes.

anyone play paintball? those tanks can ice over in 90 degree heat from bleeding for a few seconds, expanding liquid co2 soaks up a lot of heat. Any volunteers want to try running liquid co2 through their wort chiller in a 3gal pot of boiling water to see if it soaks up enough heat to be a viable alternative?

Possible advantages could be a faster cold break, cleanliness (read: no superhot waste water or potential for spilling) and simplicity (self-contained bottle of self-propelled co2 vs. bucket of ice water/pump) and the negation of tap water temperature.

Apologies if it's a stupid question that's been discussed before, I didn't see anything when I searched.



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Old 02-28-2008, 06:37 AM   #2
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Just to play the other side of this, here's some problems I see with that:

First and foremost, co2 is expensive compared to water. I get my 5lb tank filled for $13, running it open for 5 minutes would probably empty it let alone 10 or 15.

Next, that 5lb tank has no liquid co2 in it... it's all gas. Room temp needs about 870psi(wikipedia). My tank is sitting about 500psi.

The paint ball tanks would be in no way sufficient, way to little volume.

If you could re-use the co2, like re-pressurize it back into the bottle, I see this as an awesome idea.



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Old 02-28-2008, 12:05 PM   #3
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I was totally with you until you said

Quote:
Originally Posted by z987k
Next, that 5lb tank has no liquid co2 in it... it's all gas.
It's mostly liquid except for a small amount of gas in the headspace. Once you get it up to a certain PSI, it changes to a liquid. That's why donor bottles for filling either sit upside down or use a dip tube so that the liquid flows into the bottle you're filling.

I still agree that dumping CO2 is a bad idea. It's expensive not only in pure materials cost but also having to keep driving to get fills. Then there's the environmental concern about needlessly evacuating CO2 into the atmosphere.
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Old 02-28-2008, 12:20 PM   #4
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It could work.
Road racers use CO2 tanks for the same purpose.

CO2 is a refrigerant. When the liquid boils to gas, it absorbs lots of heat, so road racers run lines from the co2 tank, and wrap them around there fuel lines to chill the fuel. Basically what you are building by attaching the co2 tank to the wort chiller is HALF of an air conditioner (the expansion coil).

The problem with the above system is you would need a special co2 tank called a SIPHON TANK. You want the liquid to flash into gas IN THE CHILLER, and NOT THE TANK. This is critical for it to work correctly. Or you could hold the 20oz tank UPSIDE DOWN to get the same effort.

EDIT: However, I suspect that if the wort is some circulating, it will freeze whatever is touching the copper tubing, and then insulate it from the hot wort. Still a good idea though. If it insulates the siphon, then it might also prevent the liquid from flashes until it actually exits the copper tubes, minimizes the useful energy.

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Old 02-28-2008, 02:19 PM   #5
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siphon tubes can be installed into a Co2 tank for ~$20, it only requires removal of the valve, and it's always stored as a liquid inside the tanks.

I was thinking it'd take maybe 16oz. to cool 3 gallons bleeding over just a couple of minutes, averaging about $2 in Co2 per batch, but i base this on nothing and it could very well be way off. Either I'm being stupidly optimistic about the expansion characteristics of liquid co2 or z is being unnecessarily pessimistic. it will take some testing, but I won't be able to brew until August when I get my loft so I was hoping someone would be curious enough to do some testing with water.

I think some of you might be surprised how much heat 16oz. of liquid Co2 can soak up.

As for environmental concern...I think it's a non-issue provided you aren't bleeding bulk tanks daily.

If there are issues with freezing the line or it not completely expanding in the tubing, you could just slow the bleed.

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Old 02-28-2008, 02:25 PM   #6
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I think that if this were a cost effective way to chill, the big boys would be doing it already. Since buying CO2 in huge tanks is very cheap compared to what we pay, it would seem even more likely. Water is what, a penny a gallon? I use about 30 gallons of coolant for $.30.

I think 16oz is optimistic. I think you'd have to dump a 5lb tank minimum, and I think it would only be effective for a counterflow or plate chiller though unless you had a wicked whirlpool going for an IC.

Testing this out is right up my alley but I don't have a way of connecting my chiller directly to the tank valve.

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Old 02-28-2008, 02:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
I think that if this were a cost effective way to chill, the big boys would be doing it already. Since buying CO2 in huge tanks is very cheap compared to what we pay, it would seem even more likely.
The simplest answer is usually the right one.

I'll try it out when I get my brew closet set up in August, but I suppose I should tone down the high hopes.
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Old 02-28-2008, 04:21 PM   #8
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As HP points out, most of the cooling occurs where the liquid flashes to gas. To get liquid CO2 into the wort will require lines that can handle full tank pressure. Thicker walls means higher costs and lower heat transfer. Using water is so easy & cheap, why bother? If you capture the first five gallons or so, you have hot cleanup water at no extra cost.

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Old 02-28-2008, 04:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
I was totally with you until you said



It's mostly liquid except for a small amount of gas in the headspace. Once you get it up to a certain PSI, it changes to a liquid. That's why donor bottles for filling either sit upside down or use a dip tube so that the liquid flows into the bottle you're filling.

I still agree that dumping CO2 is a bad idea. It's expensive not only in pure materials cost but also having to keep driving to get fills. Then there's the environmental concern about needlessly evacuating CO2 into the atmosphere.
I was going off of what I read on the wiki. I thought about it, then looked it up and then went and looked at my tank (jut filled), and it's right at 500psi at ~40F. It just says room temp (70s?) and 870psi. I figured 370psi was more than the 30F temp difference and would make it all gas.

Chilkoot, not trying to be overly pessimistic, just trying to point out the flaws I see, so maybe they can be corrected if this is a viable form of chilling.
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Old 02-28-2008, 05:06 PM   #10
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I was thinking about doing the same thing with an air compressor a while back, it never actually panned out, the temperature change would have worked and all, but there is a lot of pressure variables to deal with and no guaranteed payoff after investing all that time and money



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