Cooling and chilling - is there an alternative to glycol?
I am planning to construct a 3-4bbl brew system and realise that cooling adds a lot of complexity to the system. Specifically, it seems that glycol cooling adds a lot of complexity - pipes, reservoirs, valves, compressors, etc etc.
I realise that there are a number of alternatives such as electro chillers and enclosed cold air systems but none of the alternatives appear popular even though they appear to offer greater flexibility, at least on the surface.
I live, and plan to brew, in the tropics, so the cooling of my fermenation and maturation tanks is important year round. Can any members comment of the benefits, or lack thereof, of glycol and the alternatives?
Do you have any examples of the "electro chillers", I am not sure what exactly you are referring to.
Originally Posted by tropicalbrew
One alternative to glycol systems is a product built by a company that does alot of work for the wine industry. Each tank has a self contained refrigeration system that circulates the chilled air (or heated air) around the tank for temperature control, instead of glycol. More info can be found on their website: http://www.pascopoly.com/ I have no idea of pricing, efficiency, or quality- they seem to be popular for applications that require 1 or 2 fermenter tanks, which sounds like it might be what your looking for.
There are some good posts in the probrewer archives on the pros and cons of using refrigerated rooms for your serving or brite tank storage.
Obviously our background, and preference, is glycol systems which we currently supply to companies all over the world. I would be happy to review your application and help answer any questions or concerns you might have.
Pro Refrigeration Inc.
Not that this is substantially different or simpler than a glycol system, but I've seen chilled water systems. Same concept, except you have an insulated tank full of chilled water instead of glycol. The water is chilled down to 34 degrees F and is circulated through the system much the same as with a glycol system.
Usually the tank is considerably larger than the tank for a glycol system, so the system can absorb more heat without raising the temp very fast...
Using standard parts and systems available to the microbrew industry, there is not really a better way. By cooling the beer directly with water/glycol you get pretty efficient heat transfer (referring to the heat ransfer, not the overall efficiency).
If you could cool the beer directly with refrigerant, you could gain a lot of efficiency but not having to cool the water/glycol first. But I think because of sanitation those tanks aren't used (coil is inside the tank). They do use these in the milk business though, so I guess they have some way of cleaning the coil.
I always thought that a slick way to set up a brewery would be too have two chilled water streams, one with water @ 25-30 F and one at 55-65 F. If you only needed to ferment at a higher temperature you don't have to spend the energy to maintain 25 F water/glycol. But this is way too complicated to implement.
By electric chillers I assume you are referring to thermoelectrics. Those are neat, but not very efficient, nor do they come in large sizes. 1000W is a big one. I have seen the systems that MOREBEER.com sells, and they use TEC. But these are pretty small systems.
I check out the pascopoly.com link that Jim posted. Looks cool (no pun intended). Plus that dude is about 45 min away from me! Should go check it out.
After looking a little closer at Pasco Poly I think I see a couple reasons why these are not seen in too many breweries- or appear to market to breweries.
The inner tanks are Poly (you'ld think the company name would have been a clue for me), for some reason I thought the inner tanks were built from Stainless Steel and the outer jacket was all that was plastic.
I remember reading an earlier post on poly fermenters (http://www.probrewer.com/vbulletin/s...stic+fermenter) and didn't seem too feasible. This is probably why these can be competitive against jacketed SS tanks.
Another drawback is the rate of cooling is .5 to 1 F per hour, I know this is unacceptable to many brewers I have worked with. Knocking a tank down from 70 F to 34 F would take 36 to 72 hours.
It is an interesting product, I should have studied a little closer before posting the link though.
Thanks for the replies. It looks like alternative technologies have some way to go.
Cooling with Air
I use to intern for Pasco Poly. I can tell you a little about their product if you would like. I havn't brewed a whole lot of beer, just a couple of home batches, but why is it nessecary to take cool faster than 1-.5 degree an hour? and how else would you do that?