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Old 05-17-2012, 03:15 PM   #1
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Default Using a convoluted counterflow chiller as a heat exchanger in a HERMS?

Anyone have any thoughts on how well this would work?

I'm imagining recirculating temperature controlled water through the outer tube, and sweet wort through the inner tube. A PID controller controls a heating element in the hot liquor tank; the PID's thermocouple measuring the temperature of the sweet wort as it leaves the heat exchanger.

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Old 05-17-2012, 03:32 PM   #2
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Wouldn't just be easier to put the coil in the hot liquor tank and regulate that temperature?

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Old 05-17-2012, 04:04 PM   #3
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Wouldn't just be easier to put the coil in the hot liquor tank and regulate that temperature?
Of course, this was my first thought. However, ideally I'd like my hot liquor tank to double as my boil kettle, and I'm already going to have a hop screen and heating element in there; having to deal with the coil too makes me worry that things will get a bit crowded.

Additionally, I'm going to have the counterflow chiller set up anyway, so it'd just be a simple matter of turning a few three-way valves to switch from heating to cooling modes.

Really, what I'm describing seems like it's the same thing; I'm just proposing taking the coil out of the hot liquor tank and bringing the hot water to the coil.
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Old 05-17-2012, 05:11 PM   #4
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I've gone back and forth on this for my own build. I initially thought to do exactly what you have described, and it should work just fine in theory.

My present instinct is to simplify things and just use a tall false bottom (buffer the grain) and go the direct fire RIMS route.

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Old 05-17-2012, 05:22 PM   #5
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I use a herms coil mounted in my HLT/BK. I use propane, so I dont have a heating element, but its not too crowded. When I tx the wort back into it for the boil, the HERMS coil becomes an immersion cooler.

Pumping hot water through a counterflow should work in theory. You may have to increase your heating water several degrees above target. Id play with test runs using plain water instead of wort and seeing how well you can regulate the temperature before Id try it on a real batch of beer.

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Old 05-17-2012, 05:33 PM   #6
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I use propane, so I dont have a heating element, but its not too crowded.
Interesting. So you turn the gas on and off to regulate the temperature? Or do you simply stop recirculating the sweet wort when the temperature gets too warm?

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Pumping hot water through a counterflow should work in theory. You may have to increase your heating water several degrees above target. Id play with test runs using plain water instead of wort and seeing how well you can regulate the temperature before Id try it on a real batch of beer.
This was my thinking as well. Although the more I think about it, the more I think that this approach might have better heat transfer properties than the standard setup. With a convoluted counterflow chiller, not only do you have the turbulence of the sweet wort speeding up heat transfer, but you're constantly moving "fresh" water past the sweet wort, vs. merely circulating it in the hot liquor tank (although circulating the hot water in the HLT is probably the same thing).
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Old 05-17-2012, 08:45 PM   #7
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Yes, I turn the gas on and off to regulate the temperature. I keep the BK/HLT a few degrees hotter than my target temperature. I use a igloo cooler as my MT, so technically, I really shouldn't have to recirculate to maintain my temps, but my system is a 2 vessel Brutus 20-like system and I recirculate to increase my efficiency.

With the HLT system, you have to stir the water in the HLT to avoid temp stratification around the coil. Using the counterflow chiller should eliminate this problem.

Looking forward to seeing how this progresses

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Old 05-17-2012, 09:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kylekestell
. However, ideally I'd like my hot liquor tank to double as my boil kettle
so your brew set up will just consist of a boil kettle and a mash tun? What will you lauter into when your mash is done and your HLT/BK is full of hot liquor for sparge?
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Old 05-17-2012, 09:19 PM   #9
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I have done it before. Works surprisingly well. You need to keep your temp a couple degrees over your target.

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Old 05-17-2012, 09:27 PM   #10
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That's the thinking, yeah. It seems wasteful to require a third tank when I really only need two. I don't have a ton of space and I'm a minimalist by nature, so I'm trying to keep this build as simple as possible.

But you're right, I need some kind of tank to hold the first runnings while I sparge. However, I figure that this doesn't need to be on the same level as my HLT/boil kettle and my mash tun. I usually do a mash out infusion to raise my mash water volume to half of my total runnings (equal first and second runnings), so this third "holding tank" only needs to be 50% the volume of my other two keggles, yeah?

I have an old 5gal corny that doesn't hold pressure anymore. It'd be a tight fit, but it might work.

EDIT: I usually just do 5 gal batches, but I'd like to option of doing 10gal for when I'm expecting a crowd.

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