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Automated Keg/Fermenter Cleaner Concept

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Since my wife has been giving me grief about taking over the kitchen sink to I tested some hardware for an external keg & fermenter washer. This is simply a sump pump in a bucket with a riser, CIP spray ball, and a rack to sit the keg/fermenter on. Works great, except this requires manually filling and dumping the rinse and cleaning water.

So... I started to contemplate a simple automated cleaner. Right now the thinking for a simple design is a system like this, where the keg or fermenter is placed upside down over a CIP spray ball:

Keg Washer.png


Operation would look like this:
Rinse cycle: The dump valve is opened to the reservoir. The feed valve is opened to the water feed line, then the pump is turned on and ran until the reservoir filled, determined by the float switch. Then the feed valve is opened to the reservoir and the liquid is circulated. After a determined time period, the dump valve is opened to the dump side and the reservoir drained. The feed valve is opened to the water feed line to bring in fresh water and flush out the old.

Clean cycle: The reservoir is again filled as above. PBW or other non-foaming cleaning agent is added. The heater is powered on to increase and maintain a set temperature... say 130 degrees F. The cleaning cycle is run for a determined time period, including running/soaking. Then the rinse cycle is repeated a few times to flush out the cleaning agent.

Sanitize cycle (for kegs): The reservoir is again filled as above. Star San or other sanitizing agent is recirculated for a determined amount of time. If a sanitizer which requires rinsing is used (such as bleach), a rinse cycle is then run.

Anyway, this is a simple concept. This could probably be built relatively easily and cheaply. The catch & reservoirs don't need to be massive in volume as the catch only needs to be a pan to collect liquid and the reservoir probably only needs to hold a gallon or two. This can be automated with a controller of choice... I have some ideas ;-)

Thoughts/feedback/improvements?
 

day_trippr

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Seems reasonable enough for such a device. Probably want to insert a check/foot valve in the supply line just ahead of that 3-way feed/recirculate valve.
I'd also want something to prevent dry-running the pump because this sort of device begs unattended use ;)

Cheers!
 
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BrunDog
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Not sure why the check is needed?

A second float switch could be added at the bottom of the reservoir or a flow switch could be added on the pump outlet if the pump will not tolerate dry operation.
 

Inspire

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Do you even need the catch vessel? Maybe can bypass it all together. Build the CIP Sprayer into the Reservoir.

You can have the support frame built into the Reservoir, so your keg sits on it, and all liquid will go into the Reservoir.

Dump Valve can be a 3 way valve at the Feed Valve, or make a dedicated Dump Valve at the Reservoir, up to your preference.

This is if it's just 1 keg cleaning at a time (which is what I'm assuming this is designed for).

Note: I havn't designed this automation for my project yet, so I don't know the best way to tackle this part yet. But I'm just giving you an idea as per your specs.
 
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Do you even need the catch vessel? Maybe can bypass it all together. Build the CIP Sprayer into the Reservoir.

You can have the support frame built into the Reservoir, so your keg sits on it, and all liquid will go into the Reservoir.

Dump Valve can be a 3 way valve at the Feed Valve, or make a dedicated Dump Valve at the Reservoir, up to your preference.

This is if it's just 1 keg cleaning at a time (which is what I'm assuming this is designed for).

Note: I havn't designed this automation for my project yet, so I don't know the best way to tackle this part yet. But I'm just giving you an idea as per your specs.
Good point... with an external pump this can be one reservoir and a dump only. I have a sump pump so that's where this idea was born from.
 

Toejam792

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Hi Burn,

I use a sump pump in a bucket for cip and keg washing and it works great. I have a hacked up 5 gallon bucket lid for the kegs they drain nicely into the bucket but I still put it on my sink for the splatter. I also modified 2 of my conical bases so I can fit the bucket under them and drain directly into them. I think you could get by with a 8 gallon kettle with a false bottom to protect the heating element and float switch. I would use the sump pump to do your cleaning and use a valve on kettle with one of your brewery pumps to drain your washing kettle. Pretty much how you pictured with out the catch vessel unless you really wanted that for the big stuff. I just give a quick spritz with hose into sink for big stuff.

Here's my pump setup. Works great for my conicals and kegs.
20180618_205241.jpg 20180618_205328.jpg
 
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Thanks @Toejam792. I also have a sump pump which has no inlet port, so I need the two-reservoir design above.

I have a SS cake pan I bought to test my reverse mash concept (FAIL!) and will probably build up something off of that as a top catch pan. I will mount the valves off that so the whole assembly can just be lowered into a bucket. Won't be industrial-ready by any stretch but should be OK. More to come!
 

mongoose33

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Far be it from me to rain on anyone's parade if they're in invention mode....but this seems overly complicated given you can get a Mark II keg/fermenter cleaner for $99.99 shipping included, and it works. I have one, all I need to do is add 1.25 gallons of hot water, some PBW, and let it go. Further, it allows for me to connect a couple quick disconnects so one can run cleaning/rinse fluid through the posts and dip tubes.

Now, I like fiddling to solve a problem as much as the next guy, and if that's what you're doing, I get it. But it seems like a lot of work and money and time to solve a problem that has already been solved.

PS: Star-San will foam like mad; you either need iodaphor or something else that won't foam.
 
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BrunDog
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Key word: automated. Yes the commercial product is very much better a value than creating your own. But you can't put a dirty container on it and have it come out clean and sanitized just by pushing a button (and adding star san at some point).

Anyway, its just a fun project idea.
 

mongoose33

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Key word: automated. Yes the commercial product is very much better a value than creating your own. But you can't put a dirty container on it and have it come out clean and sanitized just by pushing a button (and adding star san at some point).

Anyway, its just a fun project idea.
I get that. I've done things where I want to see if I can do it, knowing I probably can do it cheaper in terms of time and money if I just bought something.

Something to consider is if you want to run cleaning fluid through the posts and dip tubes.

You might want to think twice about the Star-San. It WILL foam like mad. I used Star-San with my Mark II.....once. :)
 
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