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Thread: Glycol loop setup

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
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    MA
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    Glycol loop setup

    Hi everyone,
    May be a simple question but I'm setting up 2 1bbl unitanks on a glycol system and looking for the best method. I currently have a 1/3hp glycol chiller with 1 pump which is more than enough for these 2 fermenters. My question is... Is it easier to plumb a loop with solenoid valves or get a second pump and run each fermenter off a seperate pump with individual temperature controllers? I understand the positives/negatives of each but don't fully understand the loop setup.
    If I go with a closed loop setup, it enables me for future expansion, but how exactly do I plumb the loop? Any thoughts or suggestions would be great.
    Cheers

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    45
    That is a much smaller setup than I've ever seen but the principal is still the same. Two solenoids, two pids, a 24v transformer and a PVC junction box and you'll have yourself a good little setup. If that pump has an internal time delay built in you'll be pretty golden.

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    Last edited by foestauf; 11-26-2016 at 06:46 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
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    Northern Baltimore County, MD
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    52

    two return headers?

    I was just wondering why there are two return headers at the FV's. Couldn't they just return to the lower one?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Florida
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    45
    Quote Originally Posted by Che' View Post
    I was just wondering why there are two return headers at the FV's. Couldn't they just return to the lower one?
    Illustration purposes. Yes you could save on pipe possibly depending on your setup by running the return on a different path than the supply but this illustration is just to model the first tank on the supply side (that is closest to the chiller) will be the last tank on the return side (farthest from chiller).

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
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    In larger systems, using first in, last out (FILO) for your glycol piping helps to equalize the pressure drop across each of the FVs, thereby equalizing the flow across them (all else being equal). It doesn't necessarily mean there's an "extra" run of pipe, though. In a larger fermentation bay, you would have FVs along the perimeter, with work space in the area in the middle. The glycol supply and return headers go behind the FVs along the perimeter in opposite directions around the room. I don't like overhead runs even if they shorten the amount of pipe needed, because the condensation drips...so in my book, the glycol lines go on the wall behind everything, and if it takes a few more feet of process pipe, so be it.

    But in your case, with two small FVs, I don't think it matters much what you do. You have a very small chiller, so unless the FVs are spaced very far apart, don't overcomplicate it.

    Your return line should drain back to the reservoir at near atmospheric pressure, if you can manage it. If you're using a small enough pump, you probably don't even need the back pressure regulator that's common at the end of the supply header. But a lot of the glycol trunk line chillers use a rotary vane pump (same one as a carbonator pump), and these can generate a LOT of pressure. If that's the kind of pump you have, you definitely need some sort of pressure relief at the end of the supply header. The back pressure regulator must be able to handle the capacity of your pump. Imagine what 250psi would do to your jackets.

    If you're going to use a simple chugger or homebrew type of pump, you can probably just use two pumps, and skip the solenoid valve drops for the FVs. It's a trade-off on header cost (distance from the chiller), and the cost of the pumps and solenoids. Larger systems would probably use a motor operated valve instead of a solenoid, though there is some disagreement between the regular posters on Probrewer in this regard. If you do use solenoid valves, make sure you put a strainer inline after the supply pump, because you don't want bits of junk clogging the solenoids.

    A simple system like yours doesn't have to be complicated. Just make sure the return lines are open from the jacket (or coil or whatever you're using) to the glycol storage tank. If your 1bb FVs are intended to be moved around, you've got to consider the glycol connection. The important part is for it to be impossible for you to shut off both the supply and return ports on your jackets, because when you clean the tanks, you need some place for the glycol to go due to thermal expansion.

    Are you planning on expanding your FVs in the near future? If so, you might consider your design with that in mind. IOW, run supply and return headers, and if the pipe diameter is relatively small, use FILO for the routing. Otherwise, keep it simple.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    2

    ?

    "A simple system like yours doesn't have to be complicated. Just make sure the return lines are open from the jacket (or coil or whatever you're using) to the glycol storage tank. If your 1bb FVs are intended to be moved around, you've got to consider the glycol connection. The important part is for it to be impossible for you to shut off both the supply and return ports on your jackets, because when you clean the tanks, you need some place for the glycol to go due to thermal expansion.

    Are you planning on expanding your FVs in the near future? If so, you might consider your design with that in mind. IOW, run supply and return headers, and if the pipe diameter is relatively small, use FILO for the routing. Otherwise, keep it simple.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp[/QUOTE]

    Thanks Mike,
    The goal is to have those smaller FV's to be mobile. I understand the supply and return line setup, my main concern is how I am going to run short lines off the selonoid to and from the fermenters, allowing me to move to clean. Will a simple quick disconnect with some pex tubing work there to allow for these to be mobile?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Kent, WA
    Posts
    102
    Quote Originally Posted by SynBC View Post
    The goal is to have those smaller FV's to be mobile. I understand the supply and return line setup, my main concern is how I am going to run short lines off the selonoid to and from the fermenters, allowing me to move to clean. Will a simple quick disconnect with some pex tubing work there to allow for these to be mobile?
    Jim with Pro Refrigeration sells the hoses with disconnects. See:
    http://discussions.probrewer.com/sho...8522#post18522

    I believe the hoses are nitrile for the inner tube. You have to be careful what hose you use with glycol. PEX would probably work (I think one of the local breweries just installed disconnectable drops using PEX), but it seems pretty stiff to me. Having the flexibility to move an operating FV around seems to me to be worth the cost of better hose.

    The main thing to be concerned with is to leave at least one end of your jacket open when it's disconnected (probably the upper end). So a double-sealing disconnect is a bad idea, though it might seem like a good idea as it keeps the glycol from spilling on disconnect. I've seen small FVs with the corny-style ball lock fittings for the glycol jacket...risky, I'd say, unless there's some built-in PRV for the jacket. If your FV heats up (from cleaning) or cools down, you could very easily damage the jacket or vessel walls. In the case of that small FV with the corny ball-lock fittings, the inner wall was buckled out into interior. The problem with leaving the end open is glycol will probably spill out if you heat the vessel. So a way to blow the glycol into the return line before disconnecting will save mess and expense (glycol is really costly). Or, drain the jacket into a bucket from the lower end when you disconnect. Just make sure it's not possible to close off the jacket.

    I'd give Jim a call. Or make them up yourself (local industrial supplies will make hoses for you--I do it all the time) using something compatible with cold propylene glycol.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Auburn, WA / Winston Salem, NC
    Posts
    260
    We see PEX often used for the drops off of the main headers, or as mentioned below, hoses can also be ordered to any desired length and used for this too. For a quote on hoses, please give me a call or shoot me an email and I'll put you in touch with the person to help you.

    Thanks

    Jim VanderGiessen
    Pro Chiller Systems
    jimvgjr@prorefrigeration.com
    www.prochiller.com

    Quote Originally Posted by rdcpro View Post
    Jim with Pro Refrigeration sells the hoses with disconnects. See:
    http://discussions.probrewer.com/sho...8522#post18522

    I believe the hoses are nitrile for the inner tube. You have to be careful what hose you use with glycol. PEX would probably work (I think one of the local breweries just installed disconnectable drops using PEX), but it seems pretty stiff to me. Having the flexibility to move an operating FV around seems to me to be worth the cost of better hose.

    The main thing to be concerned with is to leave at least one end of your jacket open when it's disconnected (probably the upper end). So a double-sealing disconnect is a bad idea, though it might seem like a good idea as it keeps the glycol from spilling on disconnect. I've seen small FVs with the corny-style ball lock fittings for the glycol jacket...risky, I'd say, unless there's some built-in PRV for the jacket. If your FV heats up (from cleaning) or cools down, you could very easily damage the jacket or vessel walls. In the case of that small FV with the corny ball-lock fittings, the inner wall was buckled out into interior. The problem with leaving the end open is glycol will probably spill out if you heat the vessel. So a way to blow the glycol into the return line before disconnecting will save mess and expense (glycol is really costly). Or, drain the jacket into a bucket from the lower end when you disconnect. Just make sure it's not possible to close off the jacket.

    I'd give Jim a call. Or make them up yourself (local industrial supplies will make hoses for you--I do it all the time) using something compatible with cold propylene glycol.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

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