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Thread: CO2 Regulator for transfers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Henley-on-Thames, England
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    204

    CO2 Regulator for transfers

    Guys,

    I'm pushing beer about the brewery with CO2, for instance from bright tank to kegs...I'm doing this on a small scale 2hl (1 barrelish) and using a bog standard dispense regulator and tank. On the last 50 litres or so, my tank has a quarter inch of ice on it, regulator is freezing up and the flow rate slows to nearly nothing.

    So,

    * Am I going to damage the equipment, brewery, or myself with this practice?

    * Is there a special regulator I need to make this work?

    Cheers,
    Jeff Rosenmeier (Rosie)
    Chairman of the Beer
    Lovibonds Brewery Ltd
    Henley-on-Thames, Englandshire
    W: www.lovibonds.com
    F: LovibondsBrewery
    T: @Lovibonds

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Hastings, MI, USA
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    263
    Basically, you're drawing on the tank too hard. Special tanks exist with heaters in them to prevent dry ice build up, other places with hard usage utilize a surge tank, which allows the main tank to keep up while you draw CO2. Best advice? Consult an industrial gas representative.
    "By man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world" -- St. Arnold of Metz

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
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    99
    As long as the kit you are using has been professionally supplied (i.e. not home-made using cast steel components, for example) you should be ok.

    Note that embrittlement (and therefore danger of rupture) of standard steel occurs at about -29oC (-20oF). You won't be getting enough dP across your regulator to generate such cooling (the ice is literally frozen moisure from the air, and indicates temperatures below 0oC/32oF, but hardly near -20oF). My little simulation shows that to get to -20oF from a starting temperature of 68oF, you'd need to have at least 545psi in your bottle. This won't be the case when the bottle is nearly empty!

    Probably, your components are made of brass or stainless, which will improve the situation for you and so you are in no danger of doing anything or anyone any damage (unless you press your tongue against the ice!).

    The ice will block the flow of CO2 until it melts again - spray some water mist over the regulator and this will help in a bind.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    78

    Flow regulator

    There are a couple of options:
    * Go with a high-volume regulator.
    * Buy a small electrical heat strip to keep temperatures up.
    * Add a regulator in parallel to the one you already have. This will spread the flow over the two regulators and reduce or eliminate ice build-up.

    BelgianBrewer
    www.sbmbrew.com
    Last edited by BelgianBrewer; 04-05-2008 at 12:39 AM.

  5. #5
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    Oct 2003
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    ...or use a pump for the x-fer.

  6. #6
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    Apr 2004
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    Hastings, MI, USA
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    ...or use a pump with a VFD on it as to avoid massacre to the proteins in your finished beer...

    /just sayin'
    "By man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world" -- St. Arnold of Metz

  7. #7
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    Oct 2003
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Good point - though, I've been using a pump to x-fer for a year and a half now. (Not that I know any better.)

    I'm a bit off the original thread here, but...

    If there was a negative effect on the beer/proteins, how would that present itself in the finished product? Not that I use these either, but don't filters and bottle fillers pump beer?

    Cheers,
    Scott

  8. #8
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    Apr 2004
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    Hastings, MI, USA
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    It's probably a "momily" (A piece of advice you mom gave you that isn't actually true) that pumping full-bore will ruin your beer, it's just what I've been taught, so I try and minimize it. True that filters (especially the Velo brand ) use pumps to move beer, and frankly, I haven't noticed a real difference in finished head retention or anything else. It might be an interesting experiment to ferment two batches (say, in this case, a fruit beer), moving one to the secondary fermenter and fruit with a pump, the other with CO2, and seeing if the finished beers are different...

    Hmmmmm....
    "By man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world" -- St. Arnold of Metz

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    West Chester, PA
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    Issues with pumps not having VFDs are usually related to shear and O2 pickup...both of which can be avoided with careful practice. VFDs are very nice, but not required for world class beer.

    for your ice problem try this old school trick...put a hose on it! We used to just hang the end of the hose on the regulators adjustment post and run it at a slow stream. Does wonders, and you don't need fancy equipment.

    if you are pumping you could also use an atmosphere exchange hose...for tanks just run a clean hose from CIP arm to CIP arm. Keep the whole system under a bit of pressure (i'd say about 1/2 Bar or 7ish psi) and pump away. As the donor tank empties gas will be pushed back in. Also cheap and nifty.

    good luck

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Santa Rosa CA USA
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    My Mom never told me nuthin' about pumping beer, but I am a firm believer that a gentler transfer makes better beer.
    As for problems with CO2 tanks freezing... BAD NEWS! The DIAPHRAM is Fragile!!! (and the safeties get plugged with ice.) I have had problems with regulators freezing and allowing dangerously way too much pressure thru. Been thoroughly scared before but usually caught it before beer tanks ruptured.

    Even Micromatic has a regulator designed for more flow, but if you are icing up the tank and regulator, you need more than just that.

    You can get an inline heater from your CO2 supplier that threads on between tank and regulator body and runs on 110V. They work great and are not too expensive. I hope there is one today that has a thermostat so less attention is required.

    Belgian Brewer said this:* Buy a small electrical heat strip to keep temperatures up. And it is probably the cheapest option.
    I use regulators with aluminum fins to solve the freezing but they are expensive as ...

    If your CO2 tank is in a cold room, you may even solve your problem by moving it to a warmer location. I am afraid of the idea of using water on a regulator unless you find one that is designed for water contact.

    Regulators are SAFETY equipment! All kegs are marked with the pressure warning stamp and all couplers have pressure safeties today because someone killed themselves when a regulator overpressured a keg a couple decades ago in Ohio. The keg ruptured itself and the person's body. Don't risk that to your kegs or your body.
    Last edited by Moonlight; 08-02-2006 at 11:48 PM.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Hastings, MI, USA
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    263
    Could someone clarify the use of a balance line between fermenter and serving tank for the xfer of finished beer? I currently pressure up the FV to about 8 psi, the SV to about 5 psi and start the transfer, adding CO2 to the FV, while slowly bleeding off gas from the SV. What benefit does a balance line serve?
    "By man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world" -- St. Arnold of Metz

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    West Chester, PA
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    Hey Rob.

    Balance line is easy. Get a hose...what hose you will use will be determined by what kind of connection you have on your CIP arm or gas inlet / outlet. If you have a 1.5" Tri-clamp valve on the cip arm of your bbts and FVs you could use brew hose, or something like 1/2" braided hose with tc ends. Pressure up both tanks to more than 5psi but less than 15psi. Hook your hose to the CIP arm of one. Vent that tank a bit to purge the line. Hook the other end to the other tank's CIP arm. Open up both sides...the pressure should equalize. Pump away.


    You don't really need that much pressure...unless the beer is carbonated. I just keep it up around 5 for safety...and cause most pressure guages on these tanks aren't very accurate near zero. You really don't want to suck in one of your tanks.

    cheers

  13. #13
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    Apr 2004
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    Hastings, MI, USA
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    Larry, thanks for the input -- I generally cap off the TC fitting on my CIP arms and have quick connects for the gas -- also, I run from FV's upstairs to SV's downstairs in my cellar, so I don't pump anything, but rely on gravity/gas pressure to move things along -- would a balance line still be a benefit?
    "By man's sweat and God's love, beer came into the world" -- St. Arnold of Metz

  14. #14
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    Oct 2003
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    Pittsburgh, PA
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    Rob,
    That sound like a PERFECT situation. Just gas up the server to MATCH the FV pressure, open the balance line, open the beer line and let the beer flow. No bleeding required!

    Remind me to install a basement.

    Cheers,
    Scott

  15. #15
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    Oct 2003
    Location
    Santa Rosa CA USA
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    By saving and "reusing" the old beer headspace you may not be venting off some undesirable aromas. Smell the gas and decide for yourself. I suspect this is especially true with lagers. Of course if there are any undesirable creatures in your aging tank, they would be sucked into your fermenter.

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