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Newbie to me size my boiler please

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  • Newbie to me size my boiler please

    I'm setting up a brewery in Guatemala and one of the last puzzle pieces is the steam boiler. I've worked on all direct fire up to this point so steam is a whole new deal for me and the investors. I've read everything I can find here and across the web on the subject and we found a used boiler at a great price here in the country (huge bonus!) but hope to get some "voices of experience" before we plop down the dinero. Any help you all can provide would be huge!

    So the details - 15bbl brewhouse, kettle jacketed for high pressure steam, 30bbl HLT also jacketed for high pressure. I'll have mobile CIP carts with electric heating elements and no plans to use for keg cleaning or pasteurization so not much need for steam except brewing to start. All equipment is coming from China and information has been a little tough (lost in translation?) but they are telling me around 500,000 btu/hr for the kettle boil but haven't given me much to work with in terms of the HLT nor steam load for both working simultaneously. I won't be double batching to start but sure hope to be within a year! (5) 30bbl FV.

    And now for the boiler - 25HP, 830,000 btu/hr, 860 lbs/hr of steam. Runs on diesel which is great for us (biodiesel readily available). Working pressure 125psi. Less that 10 years old but fully reconditioned by the manufacturer/seller. There is no blowdown tank, it is bottom blowdown and the manufacturer said just open the bottom valve a couple times a day for quick blowdowns (sounds a little scary to me?!). They also said that no condensate pumps are typically needed as the pressure pushes all the condensate back (once again I'm new to this so...what do I know,.... but I thought we'd need a pump).

    How does this all sound? We want to pull the trigger before it disappears but any advice would be super helpful.

    The ProBrewer community has taught me sooo much over the years, I really can't thank you all enough for taking the time to share your knowledge and experience!!

  • #2
    Although I am not super familiar with high pressure boiler setups, I believe the 830,000 btu/hr should be about what you need for your 15bbl system and a 30bbl HLT. The general rule of thumb is about 50,000 btu/hr for each bbl of brew house capacity. You will likely not want to run the HLT steam while boiling, but it depends on how much your brew house ends up needing and how effective your jackets are at transferring heat. If you are only going to have double sized tanks, then you shouldn't worry about needing to have the water heat during boiling. Heat it before and after the boil.

    With the low pressure configurations, I have always had a condensate return pump, but I can somewhat see why you may not need it with the high pressure. Blow down tank is no big deal as you could always pipe in something after the fact if needed for relatively cheap. I've always used a direct blow down with the low pressure. Just put your valve a ways away from the output.

    The biggest point is to make sure you understand the building/maintenance codes for installing a high pressure boiler and that your vessels are rated for it. Sometimes there are more regulations in installation and maintenance.


    • #3
      Thanks UnFermentable, that confirms a bunch of my thoughts. We are leaning hard towards buying this unit because the manufacturer is only an hour away an has relationships with all the installation/maintenance techs including fresh water chemical techs. They should have a good handle on codes/regulations (pretty loose around these parts) but safety is my biggest concern with the high pressure.

      Can anyone out there give me any tips/lessons learned about safety and high pressure systems?


      • #4
        Condensate pumps...

        This boiler sounds right for you. Condensate pumps are always required in a closed system. The condensate from the jackets exit via a steam trap. Just like the name says, it traps the steam inside the jacket while allowing liquid to escape. This liquid is pushed into a condensate tank via the pressure of the steam. Once inside this warm/hot condensate tank, the condensate pump pushes the liquid into the boiler for reheat to steam and the cycle starts again. The pump is required to get your liquid back inside a pressurized boiler. Blowdown isn't scary if you pipe it to a drain. It gets rid of accumulated crud in the bottom of your boiler. Many boilers have more than one blowdown line. Regarding safety, more pressure is always more of a potential hazard. So have a very good boiler installer equip your system. If you need help with this, I'd be happy to lend a hand to proper steam/condensate plumbing. Good luck!
        Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--


        • #5
          Thanks Gitche!

          If you need help with this, I'd be happy to lend a hand to proper steam/condensate plumbing. Good luck![/QUOTE]

          Thanks a ton! We are making offer on the boiler Monday and I'll get more info about the installer and what they recommend. I'll probably want a second opinion on pipe sizing/condensate return/etc, so thanks ahead for your time and knowledge.

          By the way, I've explained proper brite tank carbonation to at least 4 or 5 brewers/breweries in Latin America, using your description that we covered a couple years ago, so...thanks so much for your help over the years! Hope all is well in island life!


          • #6
            Make sure that the pressure rating on your equipment aligns with the pressure rating of your boiler. Meaning, your boiler can put out 125 psig, so make sure that your kettle jacket pressure rating is more than that.

            gitchegumee is correct about needing a pump. If you want to make it a recirculation system from your kettle steam trap back to the boiler, then you need a condensate tank and a pump. The steam trap will release liquid out of the kettle jacketing, but it is still pressurized. So it will get into the tank easily if close by. After that you will need to pump back into the boiler water drum. You want to watch this condensate though as you can cycle up your water chemistry in pH in a recycle system.

            Blowdown should go to a flash tank and then a drain. Depending on what you are blowing down. Boilers come with two blowdown systems. One comes off the steam drum which is the continuous blowdown. This takes any scale or anything that is a "floater" off the top layer of water in the steam drum and discharges it. This is about 3% of your water input. The bottom blowdown is what you will do maybe once a shift where you cycle the bottom blowdown valve off the lower drum (sometimes call the "mud" drum") and this take out the heavy particulates that fall from the steam drum and tubes. Most of the time this is scale, sometimes resin from RO systems. Both of these should not be recycled back into the boiler. That is a fast way to destroy tubes and drums.

            Your feedwater system to the boiler should be sized so that you can push 10% more flow to the boiler than what you want out of it. reason being is that the blowdown will take 3%-10% of your water flow. Depending on how good your water quality it. Your pumps will need to push the water at pressures ~10 psi higher than the steam drum pressure of the boiler. Boiler data sheets typically indicate this pressure and assumed temperature you need at the inlet to the boiler.
            Homebrewer/Future part-time brewer
            but I do have 1 professional brew under my belt and on the books, and its still on the menu at that particular bar even though its not being served right now.