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jsowenshall

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Hey guys I had a quick question for all of you CO2 junkies out there...

I live in China where nothing is regulated like in the States or in Europe. Today I went and got my co2 tank filled at a local industrial co2/oxygen supply (as it is the only place around that you can get CO2). After I got home I got to thinking: how pure is the CO2 I just got? I asked them and they said 99.something% (which is just as likely to be a lie as truth over here) so I thought I'd ask- is there any practical way for me to tell if the CO2 I just got is good for beer use? Should I look for certain smells, etc... really anything that wouldn't require purchasing 8 billion dollars worth of equipment?
Thanks all,
O
 
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jsowenshall

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Ok, so since I didn't get any replies I went ahead and tried to fix my problem (potential problem?) myself- and made a homemade in-line CO2 purifier with activated carbon. I couldn't find anything online so I went ahead and winged it. Is there any way I could get some critiques from you guys who know about this stuff? Here's a picture: ImageUploadedByHome Brew1392687648.034912.jpg
And I posted the whole process I used on my blog under the Gadgets/DIY heading. (www.chinabrew.net) Would love some feedback- I don't want to accidentally incapacitate friends and family! 😄
 

Indian_villager

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You will filter out some oil vapors and maybe a little bit of odor causing agents with that. If your gas stream is blended with a high concentration of a gaseous impurity that unit will do nothing to stop it. With the pictures of Beijing as of late I feel I must joke and tell you to just fire up a compressor and use that.
 
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jsowenshall

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You will filter out some oil vapors and maybe a little bit of odor causing agents with that. If your gas stream is blended with a high concentration of a gaseous impurity that unit will do nothing to stop it. With the pictures of Beijing as of late I feel I must joke and tell you to just fire up a compressor and use that.
Thanks man I appreciate the feedback!
 

IslandLizard

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As Indian Villager already said, the benefits of your filter maybe minimal. You probably need a way longer column and a much denser, finely dispersed medium to get more filter interaction and thus trapping performance. Most filters will reach exchange equilibrium or saturation without flushing or back washing regularly.

If you want to "test" the purity of your CO2 perhaps someone in a Chem lab at a University could help you. Otherwise, very slowly bubble CO2 through some beer for a while, a 0.5 micron Stainless air stone works great, and see if it gets infected over time, or changes flavor.

I think you got to trust your source and intended application the gas is designed for. My guess is most CO2 available in bottles is used for welding and beverage dispensing. Vendors may indeed sell different grade gasses or the same gas with different price tags. I agree it maybe hard to find the truth.
 
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jsowenshall

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As Indian Villager already said, the benefits of your filter maybe minimal. You probably need a way longer column and a much denser, finely dispersed medium to get more filter interaction and thus trapping performance. Most filters will reach exchange equilibrium or saturation without flushing or back washing regularly.

If you want to "test" the purity of your CO2 perhaps someone in a Chem lab at a University could help you. Otherwise, very slowly bubble CO2 through some beer for a while, a 0.5 micron Stainless air stone works great, and see if it gets infected over time, or changes flavor.

I think you got to trust your source and intended application the gas is designed for. My guess is most CO2 available in bottles is used for welding and beverage dispensing. Vendors may indeed sell different grade gasses or the same gas with different price tags. I agree it maybe hard to find the truth.
Awesome I will definitely try that, thanks! There's actually a "science university" right by here that I could probably get it tested at for fairly cheap.
I'm also thinking about doubling the length of it and using nothing but cotton fiber mesh impregnated with activated carbon powder (used for air filters here) for the whole length of it, layer after layer. Do you think that would work?
 
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jsowenshall

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You might also try contacting a local hospital, to see who they use to fulfill their oxygen and other gas needs.
Great idea, there's actually one right down the street. Hopefully they'll be cooperative (though they are notoriously uncooperative!) and will give me a source! I may need to go to a private hospital, though, because gov't suppliers here are notoriously by the book unless you've got tons of cash to throw around. Something to think about though, and definitely worth a try. Thanks for the idea!
 

alane1

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Ok, so since I didn't get any replies I went ahead and tried to fix my problem (potential problem?) myself- and made a homemade in-line CO2 purifier with activated carbon. I couldn't find anything online so I went ahead and winged it. Is there any way I could get some critiques from you guys who know about this stuff? Here's a picture: View attachment 180181
And I posted the whole process I used on my blog under the Gadgets/DIY heading. (www.chinabrew.net) Would love some feedback- I don't want to accidentally incapacitate friends and family! ��
that looks like a pipe bomb, I hope the MSS doesn't get confused.
 
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jsowenshall

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that looks like a pipe bomb, I hope the MSS doesn't get confused.
Ha! That's exactly what I thought when I made it. And then a friend walked in right when I was finished and said, "hey. why are you making a pipe bomb?"
Soooo maybe when I double the length I should put a couple of bends in it or something...
 

scootermsp

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I am in the HazMat business. I know the security director for Praxair. They operate widely in China. They have the same standards there as here in the US. The key to getting good compressed gas there is a reliable supplier.
 

Quaker

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I refilled tanks several times while I lived in Shanghai without a problem. But I completely understand your reservations. I stuck with using my plant's gas supplier, because I had some confidence in their quality and knew they wouldn't dare risk losing face by supplying the plant manager with bad CO2.
 

IslandLizard

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[...] I'm also thinking about doubling the length of it and using nothing but cotton fiber mesh impregnated with activated carbon powder (used for air filters here) for the whole length of it, layer after layer. Do you think that would work?
Doubling? I'd say 10-20 times at least, like a (copper) coil. Filtering media and technology is a science by itself. And you have to know what chemicals you're filtering out when designing it.

I would caution against damp cotton, or anything damp entering a gas filter. Over time it will grow mold or incubate other micro organisms, likely making things way worse than what you started with, not to speak of corrosion of the pipe etc.

Palmer (How to Brew) suggests an in-line air filter when employing an aquarium air pump, using cotton balls dampened with Starsan, but I think that's meant for single use only.
 
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jsowenshall

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Thanks everyone for the replies, I think my best move here is going to be getting the co2 tested and then making a filter from there. Low amount of contaminants= smaller filter, higher amount= super-long copper coil. That sound about right to everyone?
 

dhoge

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What about throwing the local bartender a nice tip, and see where they get theirs from. They must have beer on tap? If not, let me know, cause then I will know for a fact that I don't ever want to go there.
Derek
 
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jsowenshall

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What about throwing the local bartender a nice tip, and see where they get theirs from. They must have beer on tap? If not, let me know, cause then I will know for a fact that I don't ever want to go there.
Derek
Exactly what I thought and tried earlier in the process. I went to a bar owned by an expat and he told me that when you order kegs, the co2 tanks come with the "set." So when they bring new kegs, they bring co2 also. He told me my best bet was to take my tank to a brewery (I went to Shan Cheng in the city) to see if I could pay someone to fill it up. Unfortunately "this was against the regulations" and I had to buy a whole set- kegs, taps, everything from them with a refill schedule if I were to want to get any co2. Definitely not cool of them. And not worth the monetary bribe. I guess I could bring a six pack of homebrew next time and just find a willing worker....
 

Dan

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I'm absolutely not an expert so take this with a grain of salt.

Somewhere or other I've read CO2 used in the welding industry is extemely clean as part of neccessity for a good weld. That's why people in America have no problem going to a supplier of gases who are not generally for brewers but for welding.

I don't know if it is different in China but if it is, the industrial welding practices in China must suck.. Do they?
 
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jsowenshall

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I'm absolutely not an expert so take this with a grain of salt.

Somewhere or other I've read CO2 used in the welding industry is extemely clean as part of neccessity for a good weld. That's why people in America have no problem going to a supplier of gases who are not generally for brewers but for welding.

I don't know if it is different in China but if it is, the industrial welding practices in China must suck.. Do they?
I honestly have no idea! I couldn't tell a good weld from a bad one if my life depended on it. I do know that lots of the "welders" are part of the migrant worker population that travels from job site to job site just doing what needs to be done. They could be sweeping the sidewalk one day, a carpenter the next, and a welder the next. There are regulations here but that's a bit of a joke, any regulations can be bypassed with money to save money!
 

alecsf

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Hi jsowenhall,

I have something similar to your problem. Posted here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/bad-co2-china-483556/

I bought a gas bottle on Taobao. 200 Yuan and they shipped it full(!). They can't tell me if it's 'food grade'. I read on some posts that it's the bottle (has to be glass lined) not the tank which matters. So far, everyone's saying just use it. Best idea I've heard so far is to bubble through water and see if it makes it taste bad.

What happened in your case, in the end. Did the filter work?

BTW are you still in China? Which province? I'm in Shenzhen (office), Dongguan (home) and Guangzhou (some clients); different days, different cities. Brewing in April and May here is pretty tough here. Very hot and humid.

Alec
 

alecsf

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Hi jsowenhall,

I have something similar to your problem. Posted here: https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/bad-co2-china-483556/

I bought a gas bottle on Taobao. 200 Yuan and they shipped it full(!). They can't tell me if it's 'food grade'. I read on some posts that it's the bottle (has to be glass lined) not the tank which matters. So far, everyone's saying just use it. Best idea I've heard so far is to bubble through water and see if it makes it taste bad.

What happened in your case, in the end. Did the filter work?

BTW are you still in China? Which province? I'm in Shenzhen (office), Dongguan (home) and Guangzhou (some clients); different days, different cities. Brewing in April and May here is pretty tough here. Very hot and humid.

Alec
 

patthebrewer

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Hate to say it but, if I had concerns about the health of my gas. I'd probably bottle condition. That way No question about the quality of the gas.....
 

alecsf

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Hi jsowenshall,

The place I go to in Dongguan (Guangdong) is pretty straight-up about whether the CO2 is 'beverage grade' or not. In fact, I think round here they are generally. Approx 5 out of 7 of the places I've asked here (from Guangzhou to Shenzhen) have pro-actively checked with me to see if it's for beverages, and the ones who couldn't do bev-grade simply refused to even discuss it further. I think this is one industry which is properly scared of breaking regulations - perhaps not surprising given the food scandals which have happened over the last few years...

Beyond that, I've noticed that the bev-grade CO2 comes in a different bottle, and the out-thread for the non-bev-grade bottles is an awkward size which doesn't fit standard bev-grade CO2 kit (and can't be rectified with a visit to the local hardware store - it's exactly halfway in-between the two standard sizes; so I already have a 4L bottle of non-bev-grade which I was planning to use to clean my system, which is pretty useless). The place I go to seemed to have encountered this issue before, and showed me a bottle for bev-grade, and offered to sell it to me. For 1000 RMB.

So, going on that experience, it's probably OK. Looking at your sig and username, I'm guessing you're in Jiangsu...? Maybe they're a bit more cavalier there.

I did another thread on this, and there you can find links to a few more...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/bad-co2-china-483556/

Let me know what you decide to do...

Alec
 

grathan

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There are filters bars use on their co2 setups. they are like $100 US. I know this is probably obvious, but worth mentioning. Why not try natural carbonation?
 

alecsf

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Hi orangechicken517,

Guangzhou... I go there once a week right now to do training for a German company. But geez, it's too big! And driving in the city is a bit of a nightmare. Been stuck in traffic for 90mins before...

Thinking of starting a proper (meatspace) brew club here in Dongguan, where the rents are cheap and the govt fairly lax... Maybe GZ would be better (it's a 45-60min drive from my house).

Replied to you on GZStuff:
http://www.gzstuff.com/group/homebrewed-beer

I'll add you to WeChat if I can manage it. Damn, I am old.

Alec
 

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