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Old 05-07-2007, 05:34 PM   #1
Todd
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Default DIY plate chiller idea

hey guys with the talk the other day about cleanable plate chillers I wanted to run some ideas by everyone. I've been giving this a lot of thought and I don't see why it would be that hard.

If anyone knows how to post an image let me know.

My thought is use copper sheet, I'm not sure of the correct thickness but lets say 22 gauge. A 12 x 48 sheet is $60 from online metals. Cut this into 12 x 4 peices, actually I'd probably have the local sheet metal shop do all this. I'd have 2 different peices, about 6 sets of them. One would have 4 holes in it similar to the shirron chiller, the other would have grooves running the length between the holes. These plates will be stacked on top of each other and sandwiched between 2 stainless plates, Say 1/8" $15.

Now I'm not certain the best method to clamp, I'm thinking have holes in the middle and around the outside to run bolts thru. I'm thinking the clamping force should be enough to seal the plates. some keg lube could be used if needed.

What do you think? I think for $100 we could have these ready to go, of caorse fittings would need welded and what not.

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Old 05-08-2007, 03:40 PM   #2
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hm, what are you going to use for a gasket?

it sounds like a fun project, but don't be too surprised if when it is all said and done, you don't get the cooling efficiency you were looking for.

i believe that on most plate chillers, the plates aren't just smooth plates, but have ridges and ways to create some turbulance so that it can be more efficient.

also, i think it would be somewhat difficult to create the correct fittings for the in/out of wort and water so that they don't mix.

but if you find a good solution, let us know!

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Old 05-08-2007, 04:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gnef
hm, what are you going to use for a gasket?

it sounds like a fun project, but don't be too surprised if when it is all said and done, you don't get the cooling efficiency you were looking for.

i believe that on most plate chillers, the plates aren't just smooth plates, but have ridges and ways to create some turbulance so that it can be more efficient.

also, i think it would be somewhat difficult to create the correct fittings for the in/out of wort and water so that they don't mix.

but if you find a good solution, let us know!

I wish I new how to put some stupid drawings in here.

My thought was that smashing the copper would create a tight enough seal, we are not dealing with much pressure.

My thought was to weld 4 half couplers on the stainless sheet, this would allow pretty much any connection you desired.

Copper transfers heat really well, I know with my shirron you barely need to flow the hose and it is really not that big. The length of the unit could always be adjusted as needed.

I'm just mostly brain storming. I like to try and figure things out.

In my mind the "top" of it would look much like a shirron except all pipe thread, the plates would also be very similar except no solder, just pressure. 22 gauge (it could be thinner) is not very thick and since the flow would be sqeezed through this little opening I think you would still get a lot of surface area.

Any other ideas?
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Old 05-08-2007, 04:38 PM   #4
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I don't think you'll get a seal out of a copper to copper pressure connection. You might if you had thick stainless top and bottom plates with closely spaced bolts all around the edge.

Are you sure you understand the principal of how a plate chiller works?

Picture a multi layer sandwich; bread = copper plate, meat = wort, cheese = cooling water.

Ok, maybe a bad analogy. In any case, on one end of the chiller, you have water coming in that must only have access to every other plate to plate gap. It will flow from one end to the other. The same is true for the the wort in/out. Therefore, you have to worry about not only the wort and/or water leaking out of the chiller itself (which you'd see immediately) but also whether your internal seals are holding up and not mixing liquids.

The only reason I'd DIY this thing is if you want to be able to make it cleanable. The brazed stainless versions you'll find on Ebay are much more cost effective than DIY. Maybe a small counterflow is more doable.

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Old 05-08-2007, 05:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd
I wish I new how to put some stupid drawings in here.
You have to post them to a website. Then you can use img tags before and after the URL. It would look like this, without the spaces.

[ img ] http://www.somewebsite/imagename.jpg [ / img]
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
The only reason I'd DIY this thing is if you want to be able to make it cleanable. The brazed stainless versions you'll find on Ebay are much more cost effective than DIY. Maybe a small counterflow is more doable.
My thoughts exactly. And to be honest, if the cost ends up being 2x what you can buy a brazed plate chiller for, I'm not sure if it's worth it.
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Old 05-08-2007, 05:55 PM   #7
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And here's some pics of the ridges for turbulance that Bobby was talking about.



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Old 05-08-2007, 05:58 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M
I don't think you'll get a seal out of a copper to copper pressure connection. You might if you had thick stainless top and bottom plates with closely spaced bolts all around the edge.
The shirron chiller isn't bolted or anything, and from what it looks like the copper is sealed together. I don't know exactly how it is done, but Todd isn't too far off I'd imagine.

Now you are right, DIY'ing this thing isn't going to be easy.
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Old 05-08-2007, 06:08 PM   #9
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Isn't it SS plates that are brazed together? I don't think the plates are copper.

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Old 05-08-2007, 06:58 PM   #10
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yeah I'm not sure guys, just running some ideas by you. I don't think the turbulators would really be needed. My shirron is super, super efficient and If I made one that was a bit larger I think it would still cool very well.

I know copper is used for gaskets a lot in automotive applications so my thought was with suffient pressure it would seal on itself. Perhaps some keg lube could be used.

If this would work and I had the machine shop do all the cutting I bet you could make 10 or so for a pretty reasonable price.

As for my idea the yellow plates would be drilled the same (but flat), the green plates would be slotted the same width as the holes, connecting the holes length wise. This would create the surface area for heat transfer. Basically the wort/water would flow thru a very thin slot.

I'll probably never try to build one, I just like thinking about it.

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