Search the forum... there were some really good discussions on forced carbonation:
Help!! I am trying to carbonate beer for bottling. I am currently using a stainless steel stone (I use for wort aeration) to saturate, but I can't seem to get enough Co2 into the product? I am doing this tank to tank with a receiving tank pressure of 1.5 bar and saturating at 2.3 bar, the temp is 4 degrees, according to my scale this should give me 5 vols!!!! But it is no where near that, more like 1.6 vols!!! Any suggestions??????
Are you trying to do inline carbonation on the way to the bottle or are you using a bright tank? I don't know anyone who has been successful in getting inline carbonation to work all that well.
Keep in mind that there is a third factor in carbonation other then temperature and pressure, time. It takes time to get the carbonation even in a bright tank. I have seen tanks read 2.54 when I leave at night with 10lbs of head pressure and 34F. In the morning, it can read anywhere from 2.3 to 2.7 as the carbonation equalizes through out the tank!
Meheen makes a box called a "tank manager" that does your carbonation for you. You set the desired carbonation level and it does the rest. From what I have heard from a microbrewery owner/brewer in my area, you can set it at night and it will be perfect in the morning.
I know that a lot of people don't need this, but if it saves time and is accurate, I think it sounds like a worthwhile investment.
I always use a flowmeter (a rotameter) on my carbonation CO2. Blasting CO2 into a bright tank is never good for your beer. Not only will it foam, but if the PRV goes off, it will actually lower your CO2 level. A flowmeter helps diagnose any problems in your equipment by showing you where the flow is impeded--broken regulator/clogged stone? And with some experience, you should be able to set it for a rate that yields the desired carbonation over the time you have. Just my 2 bits. Good luck!
Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--