Inline Coolant Chiller - No pond pump required.

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Bobby_M

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I've mentioned this idea floating around in my head a few times in previous recirculating icewater chiller threads and although I don't like to post anything without test results, I'm taking a chance.

First, this concept isn't chiller design specific meaning it would work for anything from IC, CFC, to plate chillers. The basic limitation of all of them is the temperature of the coolant water going in which can get into the mid 80's for most of the summer for people on municipal water systems. (you year round 45F well water rednecks can skip this altogether :) ).

Many folks combat this with either an inline prechiller (copper coil submersed into icewater) or supplying their chiller with icewater directly by pumping with a pond or small sump pump.

Prechiller:
Pros: no need for electricity as pressure is supplied by tap water.
Cons: Copper prices, an additional layer of thermal transfer, no direct reuse of output water, and the need to agitate or stir the icewater to keep stratification down.

Icewater pump:
Pros: Very fast chilling due to coldest possible coolant, possible to recirculate for less water use.
Cons: Price of pump, need for electrical power.

I tried to combine the pros of both of these solution into what I'm calling an in-line ice prechiller. Call it whatever you want. The income tap water encounters a large container of ice and is then forced into your wort chiller under the original tap pressure. The only gotcha here is finding a vessel that has a large enough opening to pour ice in but also take a good 10 psi of pressure.

I've seen these barrels in both 13 and 8 gallon from various container recyclers. I used it for fermenting at first, then grain storage, and now this:



The lid gets a 5/8" hole and I threaded in a 1/2" male NPT to male garden hose fitting. An Oring goes in between the fitting and lid and it looks like I don't even need to back it with a locknut because it threaded in nice and tight.

Then I did the same thing through the side wall of the barrel with a female garden hose fitting. On the inside of this fitting, I clamped on a short piece of PVC tubing.


So, the water flows from the tap into the sidewall fitting and goes down to the bottom of the barrel. As this fills the barrel, the air is forced out of the lid fitting and through the chiller. Eventually the icewater is forced out. It doesn't need to take the full city water pressure because you'll never fully block the outflow. It will only see your chiller's typical backpressure and I don't recommend running it full blast either. I MAY need a screen on the output for when the ice pieces melt small enough to lodge into the ID of the fitting.

The other alteration I'm thinking is to reverse the fittings so it outflows from the "dip tube" since the coldest water will be down there and I would be able to swap out the lid fitting to a schrader valve to force the last of the water out with compressed air.

I'll be back with the results after my next brew day whenever that is. I welcome your criticisms and your opinion of whether this will work or not.
 

rabidgerbil

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one beauty of living in the pacific northwest...
my tap water is cold enough, even in the summer, to get down to pitching temps,
just from tap water alone.

as to your design, you, yuri, and john beere are awesome inspirations around here.
 

its02003

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Its stuff like this that makes me wonder how successful a venture into the homebrew shop realm would be if I were partnered with the people from HBT.

Some of the crap you guys come up with with a little bit of polishing is simply rediculous....and marketable :)
 

Yooper

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Brilliant idea, Bobby! My tap water is cold enough, but I hate wasting water. I've been thinking of the recirculating idea with ice and a pond pump but haven't done it yet. Especially when I go to 10 gallon batches, I'd like something more efficient to run.

Keep us posted on this!
 

Tonedef131

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one beauty of living in the pacific northwest...
my tap water is cold enough, even in the summer, to get down to pitching temps, just from tap water alone.
The nice thing about having a private well is that I can get into the mid 50s with my plate chiller at full throttle all summer long. Most people throttle their wort flow, I throttle the coolant water flow.
 

drunkatuw

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Would it be better to have the input closer to the bottom of the container? It seems like the warm water would come into the top and be the first water forced out the top resulting in very little contact time with the ice.
 

dstar26t

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yeah, I was thinking the same thing. Put a tube from the inlet down to the bottom of the container so all the influent has to work it's way up through the ice.
 
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Bobby_M

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I know the first post is wordy and most will skip half of it but I said.

"...through the side wall of the barrel with a female garden hose fitting. On the inside of this fitting, I clamped on a short piece of PVC tubing.....So, the water flows from the tap into the sidewall fitting and goes down to the bottom of the barrel. As this fills the barrel, the air is forced out of the lid fitting and through the chiller. Eventually the icewater is forced out."

There's a piece of tubing clamped on to the inside of the inlet that goes to the bottom of the barrel. I would have put the fitting on the bottom, but I wanted to be able to fill it will ice and water without having the hose connected. Putting both fittings up high allows me to do that without integrating any valves and such.
 

rabidgerbil

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The nice thing about having a private well is that I can get into the mid 50s with my plate chiller at full throttle all summer long. Most people throttle their wort flow, I throttle the coolant water flow.
Not trying to jack the thread, but I am the same... in the winter, if I don't throttle back the cooling water a ton, I end up with 38 degree wort in my carboy. Even during the summer, I have to throttle it back a little.
 
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Bobby_M

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I don't need any of this mess from November to May when the tap is well under 65. I just can't bring myself to stop brewing for the summer though. Also, I've been playing with a lot more lagers and that brings the no-ice chilling season down to Jan-March when the tap is 45F.


Now if I could just figure out how to make ice for free....
 

bakins

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Now if I could just figure out how to make ice for free....
I have a dozen or so water bottles that I have frozen. I reuse those and they seem to work. I recirculate using my MT and pump. I dump whatever ice is in my basement fridge as well.

So, are you just collecting the waste water?
 
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Bobby_M

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Making your own ice in an efficient freezer is certainly cheaper than buying it bagged at the store, but I was just joking that it's not free free... meaning you spend energy freezing it.

The idea is to collect the wastewater and use it for either cleanup in the brewery or filling the washing machine. With two young kids, there is always a load of laundry ready to go.

People that recirc the wastewater back into the ice resevior are saving water but wasting ice. It's better to not add any additional heat back into the system. Tap water is always going to be colder than the chiller waste water unless it's an IC and your wort is already down to 75F. When I use my CFC and flow the wort full speed, the output water is pretty hot and I wouldn't add it back into my ice bin anyway.
 

Philip1993

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It doesn't need to take the full city water pressure because you'll never fully block the outflow. It will only see your chiller's typical backpressure and I don't recommend running it full blast either.
The concept works just fine, but be carefully with your vessel choice as the assumption that it will never see more than the outflow resistance is faulty. The vessel will see full line pressure minus the differential between the inflow rate and the outflow rate. And should it become plugged, it will see full line pressure. For a 1/2" chiller, operating pressure is not likely an issue. For a 1/4", it likely is. For the typical 3/8? Who knows. I'm curious to see what happens. On a good note, water is incompressible. That means should there be an overpressure failure, it will be a simple rupture and not a stored energy explosion.

If you wanted to get really geeky, you can put the water into the bottom of an empty vessel and draw out air from the top. In a second vessel, put air in the top, and output into the bottom. Fill the second vessel with ice water and you can pump undiluted ice water through the chiller until the ice water is all gone. At which time, the tap water will begin flowing into the 2nd vessel, over the ice, and through the chiller.

With a bigger vessel, you can actually use this technique as hydraulic air compressor (with very damp air). Performance depends on line volume/pressure, but 60psi @ 1.3cfm is typical.
 
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Bobby_M

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I just meant that as long as you don't plug the output and don't flow the input full bore, it should only have to take a few PSI or just enough to overcome the head pressure to the chiller. I'll certainly regulate the chiller flow via the INPUT to the vessel. I'm going to test it out today just on the coolant side.. no boil/ice test yet.
 

cgruelle

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I attempted this last night with some stuff I had around the house. I fitted an old bottling bucket with a brass nipple and garden hose fittings, but it was unable to hold the pressure. The lid popped of as soon as the water got to the chiller. Bobby, where did you get the container that you are using?
 
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Bobby_M

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A guy that posted on brewboard.com was selling them for $15 SHIPPED at one time but I think it's getting up near $30 due to UPS increases (and no doubt more homebrewer demand). I also saw 8 gallon ones on Ebay for about $20.

I'll test mine for pressure in a few minutes.
 

beerthirty

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I have tried this also with a bucket, I even used ratchet straps to hold the bucket together. If you have a container that will take the pressure without distorting and breaking the seal you on the right track Bobby. I also had problems with the pressure stretching the plastic around the threaded fittings and making them leak even though it was air tight. I would suggest backing nuts and seals to help this problem. I tried regulating the inlet pressure but couldn't get enough flow out to do the job. I even had the inlet throttled down to 3/8 hose while the outlet was 1/2 shorter hose. It all came down to the bucket was too weak to hold pressure. Good luck with this I will be following your thread.
 
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Bobby_M

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The weak spot in this barrel is the bottom and top. If I flow it too much, it bulges. I'm able to achieve exactly 1 GPM (gallon per minute) without any distortion. That rate is very close to what I run the CFC at during the winter so it's somewhat promising for a real brew test. Worse case scenerio is that I'll have to throw a pump in.
 

mmadia

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What about converting a cornie keg to do this?
I'd like to swap the gas and liquid posts+poppets for garden hose fittings.
Then the bev out becomes tap water in, gas in becomes chilled water out.

Any idea if these would be the right fittings?
McMaster-Carr
Female GHT x 1/4" Female Pipe
73605T65

Male GHT x 1/4" Female Pipe
73605T59
 
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Bobby_M

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I have no doubt it would work, but I don't know what the post threads are (though I'm fairly certain they are not 1/4" MPT).
 

FSR402

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I like your idea Bobby. I think that if you used a weldless balkhead on the in and out ports you could get it sealed up well. Also a false bottom that is on the top of the ice would work great to keep the ice out of the line. Just need the holes to be smaller then the line dia.

The water goes in the bottom, flows up thru the ice and out the top and thru the chiller. :rockin:
Of course you will need a bucket that has a screw on lid to hold the pressure.
 
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Bobby_M

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Even with my screw on lid, the concave top and bottom start to bow out. Like I mentioned, with the CFC's backpressure, the best I can flow is 1GPM. It should be fine for my purposes but it would be nice not having to worry about dialing the flow in below the vessel burst threshold while I'm the middle of chilling.
 

jcdillin

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very cool, i've been looking for a way to keep from having to use a pump with my CFC I think I will try this.
 

conpewter

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I've done this with a corny and you don't need to buy any new fittings. A regular garden hose will fit over the posts rather tight. I just put the dip tubes in, no poppit valves and put the garden hose over the posts, then I just clamped them on with some hose clamps, worked fine. The issue I had was that I ran out of ice in the corny long before I was done chilling. This could work fine if I had better temperature readings coming out of the chiller so I could throttle down the cooling water flow.
 
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Bobby_M

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The pressure vessel is the hardest part. I think the idea of a corny keg is a good one if anyone can figure out how to convert the post threads to garden hose. I suppose you could try removing the poppets and clamping hose directly over the posts. It should work up to a certain backpressure. Here's what I found on keg thread:

Keg Thread Sizes

by: Mike Dixon

The question often arises as to whether or not Ball-lock and Pin-lock kegs posts can be interchanged. If the threading is the same, the answer is yes, on certain sizes they can be interchanged. New posts are generally as much as the cost of a used keg and so most people opt to purchase disconnects instead. The only straighforward interchageability is Cornelius to Cornelius.

Here is a listing of the kegs by manufacturer and the threads associated with those kegs:

Firestone V Challenger, Firestone VI Challenger, Firestone Super Challenger
Gas 9/16"-18
Liquid 5/8" -18

Cornelius Spartan & Super Champion
Gas 19/32" - 18
Liquid 19/32" - 18

Cornelius R (pin lock)
Gas 19/32" - 18 (2-pin)
Liquid 19/32" - 18 (3-pin)

John Wood 85, Firestone Challenger
Gas 11/16" - 18
Liquid 3/4" - 18

Firestone A, Firestone R, John Wood RA, John Wood RC (pin lock)
Gas 9/16" - 18 (2-pin)
Liquid 9/16" - 18 (3-pin)


It gets a little silly though to sacrifice a corny that's able to hold pressure. I have one that's a little bent where the Oring would engage so I wouldn't trust it for CO2 leaks and I don't mind if it squirts a little water either. Maybe I'll give it a try after I verify that I can't persuade the lid to seal better.
 
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Bobby_M

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I've done this with a corny and you don't need to buy any new fittings. A regular garden hose will fit over the posts rather tight. I just put the dip tubes in, no poppit valves and put the garden hose over the posts, then I just clamped them on with some hose clamps, worked fine. The issue I had was that I ran out of ice in the corny long before I was done chilling. This could work fine if I had better temperature readings coming out of the chiller so I could throttle down the cooling water flow.
I was thinking of directing my wort back into the kettle while running pure tap coolant, then switch over to the ice path and start dumping the output wort into the fermenter. I suppose you were gravity draining the wort through the CFC?
 

conpewter

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Yes i was doing a gravity drain through the CFC and was dealing with a barleywine as well. That was just a crappy brew-day and I should give it another try.

I have a semi-bad corny as well. Seals if you pull up on the handle while putting pressure on it. Also with some of the deals I've seen you can get the cornies for $15 so about the same price as your bucket.

Edit: I'm building a new brew rig and now that I have a pump I may redirect back into the kettle to cut DMS production. On the other hand I also like the Hell On Earth chiller, that one costs extra copper but you don't need a container that can hold 65 PSI
 

mmadia

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The pressure vessel is the hardest part. I think the idea of a corny keg is a good one if anyone can figure out how to convert the post threads to garden hose. I suppose you could try removing the poppets and clamping hose directly over the posts. It should work up to a certain backpressure. Here's what I found on keg thread:
...SNIP...
It gets a little silly though to sacrifice a corny that's able to hold pressure. I have one that's a little bent where the Oring would engage so I wouldn't trust it for CO2 leaks and I don't mind if it squirts a little water either. Maybe I'll give it a try after I verify that I can't persuade the lid to seal better.

This link mentions
The threads are unique, they are not even close to a National Pipe Thread (NPT) at all. I'm a machinist by trade. I can't even find a standard tap this size (19/32- 18).using a npt fitting will ruin your existing threads. I would suggest using a ball lock or pin lock fitting depending on your keg, with a short piece of tube and then what ever fitting you want.
Re: Threading Female Pipe onto a Corny Keg Post Thread?

I tried looking for 19/32 female BSPT ( British Pipe Threads -- Tapered ), but no luck yet.

FWIW, some garden hose quick disconnect fittings that were laying around snap onto posts. At first, I thought the reduction from the hose through the poppet opening would kill the flow rate. But that opening is just about the same diameter as the dip tubes.
 

knarfks

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I'm kind of thinking this project is most likely getting a lot more expensive than a pump...

Do you still plan on using the hose water to cool most of the way?
 
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Bobby_M

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The project certainly isn't for everybody (and maybe not me either) but I like to throw stuff on the wall and see what sticks. I paid $5 for each of my cornies and I always have one free. If I can get the damaged one to at least not gush like crazy, it's almost free.
 

beerthirty

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conpewter, A little off topic but how does recircing cut DMS? Shouldn't DMS be boiled out long before cooling begins?
Bobby, when you were talking about adding a pump, did you mean a sub pump in the vessel to help push the water out and prevent over pressurizing?
 

conpewter

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Not all of the precursor to DMS is boiled out in a 60 minute boil (as far as I know) so when the wort is sitting there very hot but not boiling it is creating DMS but not getting boiled off. I've never had an issue with it, but this is what I've been led to believe. So if I recirc the wort back into the pot through the chiller I'll cool all of the wort below the danger temperature instead of letting some of it sit there producing DMS (theoretically).

Also I think some of what Bobby is getting at (and I hope he chimes in again) is that you could either do this method of using a container you can pressurize OR you could just go buy a pump and do that instead.

For me the question is between doing this again (with better control) or build a Hell On Earth type chiller. Both have their advantages, and fairly easy to use compared to switching input water etc.

Now that I have a pump I can heat sanitize all the tubing that the wort will go through all the way to the carboy now, so I hope that will help with a bit of an infection problem I've had in two batches (Just dumped a 5 gallon cornie a week ago, it has been getting progressively worse the last 3 months)
 
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Bobby_M

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Yeah, I meant pond/sump pump in a NON pressurized vessel to simply pump out the icewater into the chiller. The point of this brainstorm thread is to use city pressure through a pressure-safe vessel with a mouth large enough to accept large quantities of ice to negate the need for a pump.
 

knarfks

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I guess it all depends on what you have lying around for free sometimes. I got my pump free, then $5 in fittings and I had a pump/recirc chiller. I have seen pumps for $20-$30
 
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Bobby_M

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I have to admit that a lot of my motivation was simply to try something that hasn't been done, or at least not laid out in detail here recently. This is a method that could be used without any electrical source also if you're an IC user. It's moot for me since I use a March pump for wort movement though.
 

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