Wort Cooling Concept

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iceman80403

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Hello everyone. For some reason or another, I've been thinking about how to very quickly cool wort. I know about counterflow chillers, but they have their drawbacks. I've always used an immersion chiller and like how easy the sanitation and cleanup are with it, but I don't like having to stir it in the wort and waste all the water.

So my idea is to have a small or medium sized freezer on its coldest setting with a glycol reservoir in it. There would be a pump that pushes the glycol out of the freezer, through a transmission cooler immersed in the wort and then back into the reservoir. No wasted water, no extra sanitation and not too much extra cleanup.

Transmission cooler picture:
http://www.automotiveconcepts.net/store/images2/FLE/image/Translif.jpg

I probably wont be doing anything like this for a while, but it would be great to hear from anyone who may have already done something like this or will try it now. This is just a rough first idea so if you know a way to make it better let's hear it!
 

llazy_llama

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If that transmission cooler will fit into your kettle, it seems like a neat idea. Sanitizing it would be as easy as sanitizing an immersion chiller (add to boil at 15 minutes) but I don't know how you'd be able to clean it properly. I guess if you used hop bags or a paint strainer to reduce hop sediment it would cut down on the gunk in your kettle, but it still seems like it would be a huge pain to clean.

I know it's damn near impossible to get all the bugs out of the one in my car. :drunk:
 

JPicasso

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Search on pre-chiller.

Lots of pple have luck with running cold water for a short time, then switching to re-circulating water through a secondary reservoir of icewater. Your idea would possibly take it to the next level. Especially if you sprung for the bling of actual radiators instead of just copper tubing.
 

conpewter

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Why not run the glycol mixture through the current immersion chiller? You could buy a pump and recirculate the wort (Jamil's whirlpool chiller)
 
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iceman80403

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Why not run the glycol mixture through the current immersion chiller? You could buy a pump and recirculate the wort (Jamil's whirlpool chiller)
That was my first thought, but a radiator would have a much higher surface area for heat transfer resulting in a quicker cool down. I may still have to stir the radiator though.

Actual radiators would definitely work better, but I don't know if they'll fit in my brew pot (8 gallon Megapot), but I'll search around.
 

Boerderij_Kabouter

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You have to be sure the tranny cooler does not have any heavy metals or other contaminants that will be exposed to your wort. Likely it is brazed or something and may include lead.

The glycol idea is not bad, but IMO the effects will be only minimally better than a recirculating Ice water system and much more expensive.

If you really want to lower your cool time, look into a recirculating ice water system combined with a forced whirlpool. One march pump, one cheapo submersion pump, and you will be all set.
 

RedIrocZ-28

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If it were me, I would just use a manifold block made of copper or aluminum to run the glycol through rather than a radiator. Maybe even a converted computer heatsink could work if it is for water cooling.
 

Bobby_M

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A 50% propylene glycol mix could be cooled down to -20F in a chest freezer. I don't know much about thermodynamics but I think if you tried equalizing the heat between 5 gallons of 212F wort with 5 gallons of -20F glycol, you're still at 116F. I'm sure it's not exact because of the density of glycol, but close enough to know you'd need more than 5 gallons. The freezer's ability to cool is completely negligible during the chilling process so you'd need enough in the reservoir to handle the chilling.
 
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iceman80403

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A 50% propylene glycol mix could be cooled down to -20F in a chest freezer. I don't know much about thermodynamics but I think if you tried equalizing the heat between 5 gallons of 212F wort with 5 gallons of -20F glycol, you're still at 116F. I'm sure it's not exact because of the density of glycol, but close enough to know you'd need more than 5 gallons. The freezer's ability to cool is completely negligible during the chilling process so you'd need enough in the reservoir to handle the chilling.
Excellent point. I'll have to look up the right constants and it's a simple calculation after that. Thanks.
 

MacBruver

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I would not put a transmission cooler anywhere near my wort. Those are certainly not food rated, and the chances of metals leaching out of it are too great.

In addition, using that instead of a coil of copper tubing is pretty much pointless. The fins on it are only really useful in air, which is a lot harder to transfer heat to. In a liquid, the tubing itself is going to do just fine. The fins will just make it harder to clean.

Glycol also has a lower specific heat than water, so that calculation is a bit optimistic, too. Without a good way to continuously cool down the glycol, it's probably not going to be worth the trouble.
 

Clayton

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well all this may save some water, not that there is a shortage most places are covered in the stuff and it falls from the sky all the time.

but it will use alot more energy , and i here there is a shortage of that so,
make a mega chiller if you want ,i think its great but dont bleave you are some how
saveing the enviroment in the process.
 

worxman02

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DON'T use the transmission cooler. As MacBruver correctly pointed out Trans coolers are NOT food safe. Generally they are brazed with lead and could contain other bad heavy metals. Just make a pre-chiller with a 2nd IC in a bucket of ice water and salt. That should help pre-chill the water to near freezing.
 
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iceman80403

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Ya, I definitely agree a transmission cooler would not be good to put in wort. One could still use a regular IC cooler though.

So by setting heat lost equal to heat gained and solving for the equilibrium temperature I came up with the equation:

Tf=(v1*d1*Cp1*Ti1+v2*d2*Cp2*Ti2)/(v1*d1*Cp1+v2*d2*Cp2)

Where v=volume, d=density, Cp=specific heat (at constant pressure), Ti=initial temperature and Tf=final temperature.

Using 5gal wort with water's Cp, a SG of 1.050 and Ti=boiling temperature and 5gal 50/50 propylene glycol with Ti=-20*C and relevant data from Propylene Glycol based Heat-Transfer Fluids gives a final temperature of ~103*F. With 10gal of PG it gives a final temperature of ~67*F.

So it's doable, but definitely not practical. If there is some food safe refrigerant with a much higher specific heat this would become more practical.

Sorry for my brief and probably incomplete message, but I'm in a rush.
 

jordanpace

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what do the big boys use to get their wort to pitching temps?
 

Catt22

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My High Volume Rapid Chiller fabrication in progress. Should have it completed this evening. Hope to try it out before the end of the week.







 

MacBruver

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My High Volume Rapid Chiller fabrication in progress. Should have it completed this evening. Hope to try it out before the end of the week.

Hmm... I think you are going to lose some efficiency by having the hot and cold lines so close together. The chilled wort is going to run right next to the incoming boiling hot wort, if I'm looking at it correctly.... you're going to have the wort going through the copper, correct?
 

Catt22

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The design concept it to use this high volume hybrid chiller to circulate wort back to the kettle and through the chiller repeatedly to achieve a rapid temperature drop much the same as Jamil's method only not using an immersion chiller.

The rigid tubing is 1/2" ID and the length is approximately twenty feet. I have a store bought counterflow chiller, but due to the small diameter 3/8" OD tubing used, it is very restrictive and won't permit a high enough flow rate.

The rapid chiller is designed only to reduce the wort from boiling temperatures to somewhere in the 150 F range as fast as possible to lock up the flavor and aroma hops at flame out.

I'm not concerned about the close proximity of the hot and cool lines. Yes, the wort will run through the rigid copper. Cold tap water will flow into the bottom of the 4" PVC and exit through a fitting at the top. I plan to run the tap water full blast and the same with the pumped wort.

I have not tested this out yet. Might try it this evening with just 12 gallons of boiling water to see if it will get me anywhere close to the goal. I'd really like to be able to cool down the wort to 150 F in about six minutes. I'm guessing that it may require three passes through the chiller to do that. I'm hoping to be able to pump at a rate of six gpm or more so I should be able to "turn over" the full volume in only a few minutes. None of this has been calculated out, so the performance estimate is just a guess at this point.

I will use my regular counterflow chiller for the final cooling to pitching temperature on the way to the fermenter. Two separate operations. I think it will either work very well or very poorly just as most of my other designs have done! No middle ground for me.
 

BrewBeemer

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Go with the large tranny cooler but first off run some chemicals thru it to leech out any lead like they do on all the brass valves and soldered fittings the first time before using a brewing system. All you have is copper tubing on that cooler with a couple fittings that will be silver soldered on vs soft soldered, heck change them out with lead free soft solder if it makes you feel better. They are installed with silver solder, I have never see a cooler with soft soldered fitting installed from the manufacture.

With two 90 degree fittings inside your boil kettle facing 180 degrees from each other or a flexible return hose set in the opposite direction will keep the whirlpool action going. Circulate your wort thru your March pump and tranny cooler but have the cooler in the air and wrapped with a towel to retain the wort heat passing thru it to fully sanitize your complete cooling system for the last 10 to 15 minutes of your boil. A easy simple job.

At the end of your boil after the sanitizing process install the tranny cooler in plastic 55 gallon drum that you have cut the lid off. Inside this drum filled near to the top add inside a small fish pond pump to circulate the cold water in this drum plus thru your tranny cooler fins for the best heat transfer. The ratio of 55 gallons vs your brewing volume in gallons should drop your wort temp rather fast. If needed change out the water with some tap water into the 55 gallon drum. I added a 1" fitting near the top to drain off the displaced water with a larger hose that will handle the higher volume than you will add to the drum that drains away from the brewing area. The wort is inside the smooth copper tranny lines plus the aluminum fins that increases your surface cooling area installed in water removes heat faster than a liquid to air cooling that the coolers original use was for. The aluminum cooling fins are in clean fresh water so no worries in cleaning it. At clean up just flush the complete cooling system this the cooler, lines to and from the boil kettle and the pump. Simple and so easy.

I have done this for years with a brand new cooler given to me by my transmission friend. Jeg's or Summit catalog has coolers also, pick your size.
 

Catt22

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Catt, NICE!
You need to start your own thread on this bad boy!
I thought you guys might find this entertaining! Once I get it completed and tested I will start a separate thread detailing the assembly. If it works that is!

Stand by for further updates!
 

MacBruver

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The rapid chiller is designed only to reduce the wort from boiling temperatures to somewhere in the 150 F range as fast as possible to lock up the flavor and aroma hops at flame out.

I'm not concerned about the close proximity of the hot and cool lines. Yes, the wort will run through the rigid copper. Cold tap water will flow into the bottom of the 4" PVC and exit through a fitting at the top. I plan to run the tap water full blast and the same with the pumped wort.
I think if you ran the cold water in to the top you would get better performance out of it... that way you have the wort exiting right after it has touched the coldest water, instead of right after it has touched the hottest stuff. The biggest problem I see is that you'll have the wort bouncing back and forth between the hot ends and the cold ends... but hey, until it's tested there's no real way to know how it works out. I look forward to hearing how it goes.
 
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iceman80403

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Go with the large tranny cooler but first off run some chemicals thru it to leech out any lead like they do on all the brass valves and soldered fittings the first time before using a brewing system. All you have is copper tubing on that cooler with a couple fittings that will be silver soldered on vs soft soldered, heck change them out with lead free soft solder if it makes you feel better. They are installed with silver solder, I have never see a cooler with soft soldered fitting installed from the manufacture.

With two 90 degree fittings inside your boil kettle facing 180 degrees from each other or a flexible return hose set in the opposite direction will keep the whirlpool action going. Circulate your wort thru your March pump and tranny cooler but have the cooler in the air and wrapped with a towel to retain the wort heat passing thru it to fully sanitize your complete cooling system for the last 10 to 15 minutes of your boil. A easy simple job.

At the end of your boil after the sanitizing process install the tranny cooler in plastic 55 gallon drum that you have cut the lid off. Inside this drum filled near to the top add inside a small fish pond pump to circulate the cold water in this drum plus thru your tranny cooler fins for the best heat transfer. The ratio of 55 gallons vs your brewing volume in gallons should drop your wort temp rather fast. If needed change out the water with some tap water into the 55 gallon drum. I added a 1" fitting near the top to drain off the displaced water with a larger hose that will handle the higher volume than you will add to the drum that drains away from the brewing area. The wort is inside the smooth copper tranny lines plus the aluminum fins that increases your surface cooling area installed in water removes heat faster than a liquid to air cooling that the coolers original use was for. The aluminum cooling fins are in clean fresh water so no worries in cleaning it. At clean up just flush the complete cooling system this the cooler, lines to and from the boil kettle and the pump. Simple and so easy.

I have done this for years with a brand new cooler given to me by my transmission friend. Jeg's or Summit catalog has coolers also, pick your size.
Nice. How long does it take you to cool 5gal of wort? Do you just use cold tap water or throw ice and salt in, too? How much wort is wasted?
 

Catt22

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Yes, I have considered all of that, but concluded that it would be better to fill the PVC from the bottom to help eliminate air pockets. I'm betting that there will be sufficient flow and turbulence within the PVC tube that these minor issues won't make much difference. The wort will be moving really fast through the tubing if all goes as planned. The water flow will be high volume also. Between the two it should drop the temp very fast.

Time is of the essence for this chiller. Crash cooling with the key word being "crash". I'm a hop head IPA kind of guy, so preserving the flavor and aroma has become my holy grail. Perfecting my IPA has eluded me so far. I make a good one, but I know I can improve it.
 
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iceman80403

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Also, I read this thread
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f35/cure-your-short-hose-troubles-100151/
a while back where people put plastic fluid mixers into the liquid dip tubes of Cornelius kegs to reduce pressure without increased line length. If you were to put them inside your immersion chiller it would cause much more turbulent flow and better heat transfer. :) That would be a very simple upgrade and they're not too expensive.
 

Catt22

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Thanks for the suggestion. If you look closely at the pics, you will see that there are two baffles installed approximately one third from each end of the PVC. These serve two purposes. First, they helped hold the pipes in place while sweating the fittings. Secondly, they will disrupt the flow and create lots of turbulence as the water passes through and around them. I drilled a 1" dia hole in the center to improve the flow and the baffle discs are not quite the full diameter of the PVC so water can move past the sides easily. I'm not after max efficiency as much as I'm after a max initial drop in temperature and I think this may get me there.
 

BrewBeemer

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Nice. How long does it take you to cool 5gal of wort? Do you just use cold tap water or throw ice and salt in, too? How much wort is wasted?
In the past i've brewed 3, 5 10 and 15 NET gallon batches so i'm cooling between 17 1/2 to almost 19 gallons before the fermenter, I like large batches with 21 corny's waiting. I also use the well water as I have no worries on water bills just the electric bill and pump shaft packing gland, this at 7 3/4 gallons a minute at 24 psi with the well ground water between 61.6*F winter to 63.4 in the summer peak heat time. I yard water by the hour plus the pH and temp is perfect for the Coi fish pond of 350 gallons. Water is not a problem with me as well I brew and drink it. The city switched over from chlorine to chloride that kills fish, great and we dring it, feel safe I don't? It is slightly flat in taste plus has minerals in it.
I have water at 9' down with 40' deep by 6" PVC well casings at two properties.

On average with a app 18 gallon batch I can pull the wort from boil down to 67 degrees by 14 -17 minutes.

I have access for more free white food grade 55 gallon drums and may go for two hooked together for 100 gallons vs the 19 to 20 gallons of just finished boiling wort. This way tie the two barrels together with a second tranny cooler in the second barrel for again a faster temp drop. I'm a person with a very tight budget, when so one can become very resourceful at times.

I fee sorry for our other members and can not believe the high tap water temps many members have posted and have to deal with. In the winter our all time record low air temp was 30.6*F air temp and on average the city tap water could be app 47-52 degrees. Enough to be refreshing and hurt your teeth. Hell I live on an 'Island".
 

WortMonger

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Catt22, I'm a little worried. I feel your counter flow chiller you plan to use in your second step would cool your wort faster than this new procedure you are planning/manufacturing. I don't know what kind of counter-flow you have, but in my case I'd have to say that for $200 I don't think you can beat 10 gallons of wort from boiling to 68*F in 5 minutes, with 58*F tap water on speed like the Therminator does. I recirculate back into the kettle while filling my HLT again with hot water for cleanup later. Of course I have the hurdle of clean only wort going into the Therminator, but I get 12+ gallons below 140*F to halt DMS very quickly and lock in hop flavors/aromas, like minutes. I get to pitching temperatures within 15 minutes unless it is summer. I am not trying to down your new project so please don't take this the wrong way, I just don't see its efficiency so I question its purpose past what you already have. Convoluted tubing would have been awesome to have used for even greater turbulence inside the copper.
 

Catt22

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The store bought counter flow chiller I have uses 3/8" OD tubing with a garden hose outer cover. The problem I have with any type of standard counter flow chiller is that while it will cool the wort adequately, it's too slow for use to circulate back to the kettle repeatedly. I don't think I can get more than about one or two gallons per minute flow through my regular counterflow chiller. I have not actually measured the flow rate, but it's not fast enough to suit me.

I would like to buy a maxi chiller or one of similar design as they seem to have the volume capacity I need. I am leery of plate chillers for two reasons. They appear to be difficult to keep clean and the narrow gaps between the plates might make them susceptible to plugging with hop debris and trub. Maybe those are not issues at all, but they worry me none the less.

I'm on a tight budget right now, so the $200 cost is a little out of range. Might get one later on though.

I think that there will be more than enough turbulance inside the copper tubing with all those right angle turns the wort has to navigate. I couldn't justisfy the added expense of the convoluted tubing in my mind. There are probably a number of ways that this design could be improved upon. I was seeking something that would be cheap to build and easy to fabricate with commonly available materials.

I'm anxious to see how well it works myself. I only have about $50 invested in materials, so it isn't an expensive experiment as experiments go.
 

Cape Brewing

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Cape Brewing

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... and just another comment on the re-circ... I whirlpool off my my March 809 and the plate chiller.... I don't have a problem with flow at all. I pump through the plate chiller, back up into the boil kettle through am elbow and whirlpool the wort as I chill.
 

BrewBeemer

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Nice. How long does it take you to cool 5gal of wort? Do you just use cold tap water or throw ice and salt in, too? How much wort is wasted?
With the tranny coil removed and held low and flat plus the QD removed on the hot wort out side off the boil kettle I can recover about all the wort in the system except what little is that is inside the March pump chamber. All the rest gravity flows out into a clean container. I can live with the loss of 3 to 4 ounces of wort at the most that is inside the March pump impeller chamber on a 18 to 19 gallon batch headed directly to the fermenter.

I was looking at those 30 plate heat exchangers years ago that Cape Brewing has posted but gave up thinking about all the grain particles that have 30 plates and small passage ways to get collected into. My fear was how to get all that matter removed once it has been jammed into those tight spaces hence the use of smooth bore copper tranny coolers with those exterior aluminum cooling fins. Cleaning plus the use of free 55 gallon barrels became easy to handle the large coolers plus easy on the wallet and the high volume in gallons vs the wort volume. Everyone has their own ideas on brewing projects. This works for me, simple, cheap, trouble free and it functions as planned, rather better than I expected.
 

Cape Brewing

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How would you get grain into the plate chiller?

You're not going to circulate your mash through it.... just your boil. You shouldn't have any real grain particles in your boil.

I pump boiling water through it, a little star-san and then some clean water... done.
 

madewithchicken

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I am not sure if someone mentioned it already but I think that those transmission coolers have lead in them. I know that car radiators often do.
 

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Catt22, I'm a little worried. I feel your counter flow chiller you plan to use in your second step would cool your wort faster than this new procedure you are planning/manufacturing. I don't know what kind of counter-flow you have, but in my case I'd have to say that for $200 I don't think you can beat 10 gallons of wort from boiling to 68*F in 5 minutes, with 58*F tap water......
I think Catt's design will work for what the goal is but switching between two different chillers (that have to be sanitized) seems like a waste of energy to me.

If you wanted faster flow through a CFC, you can build one with a 1/2" OD core and 3/4" ID hose. I wouldn't go any bigger on the core without using convoluted.

I personally picked up a huge plate chiller on ebay for $100 and with tap water around 45F, I can empty 11 gallons into the fermenters at 60F output in less than 8 minutes.
 

beerthirty

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+1 on Wortmonger's comments...

I picked up a 30 plate chiller for about $80... and I go from boiling to 70 on 10-12 gallons of boiling wort in a little over ten minutes just running my hose through the other side.

30 Plate Brazed Heat Exchanger Wood Furnace Boiler SVO - eBay (item 250401993844 end time May-05-09 10:10:59 PDT)

True you need a pump but I have one in my rig already... so... for roughly $200 you could get a March 809 and a 30 plate chiller.
I went with this one. M 20 Plate Brazed Heat Exchanger Boiler Wood Furnace - eBay (item 260378353991 end time Apr-15-09 06:32:51 PDT)
Look at the difference in heat transfer.
 

Catt22

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How would you get grain into the plate chiller?

You're not going to circulate your mash through it.... just your boil. You shouldn't have any real grain particles in your boil.

I pump boiling water through it, a little star-san and then some clean water... done.

Not grain, but trub and hop debris would be my concern. I'm just not convinced that everything would pass through the narrow gaps of the plate chillers. Too many hard to reach corners for my peace of mind. OTOH, I know several people who use them without problems, so maybe my concern is unfounded.
 
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