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Thread: nitrogen in the brewery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aldergrove, BC
    Posts
    22

    nitrogen in the brewery

    We spend several thousnd dollars a month on co2 and as always want to cut costs.We are looking at purchasing a nitrogen generater and using nitrogen to pre-evac our bottling line and to purge brite tanks and to push beer out of our brite to our bottling line,sometimes we would be leaving the nitrogen in the brite over nite.Does anyone have experience with this?Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    2,057

    I'm with you!

    CO2 is also very expensive here. We have used a nitrogen generator from South-Tek for the past three years. Their Beer Blast 400 with a 500 gallon surge tank set at 80 psi. We use it the same as you would like--purging tanks, DE filter, and our canning line filler purge. It works well, but have had some maintenance issues--filters every six months & compressor rebuild every 18 months. Then again, we use the hell out of it, and it is a mechanical piece of equipment. As far as nitrogen issues with your beer; it seems that nitrogen covers the beer from the top and you won't lose any carbonation in a typical working day. The last beer is just as carbonated as the first beer keeping the same 14 psi on the bright tank. (There are many speculative posts on this site that argue one way or another about CO2/nitrogen issues, but I'm sure of what I have experienced) That being said, I don't package beers over two days. Purging with nitrogen, then filtering into the tank and carbonating works just fine. (And I do NOT bleed when we carbonate) But when we start packaging with nitrogen head pressure, we do the full lot in a day. Overall, I'd say that the ROI is a bit better than our CO2 costs over two years. Your mileage may vary. And South-Tek has been very good to deal with. I recommend them. Hope this helps!
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    510
    No reasons at all not to change from CO2 to N2 for the applications you've listed!

    On the point of CO2 loss with N2 top-pressure: Provided you fill tanks to capacity, ie. minimal freeboard, and empty completely within about 24 hours when you're packaging, you should not see any significant drop in CO2.

    If you were to leave a part-full tank over a weekend with only N2, you would see a difference (drop in CO2) towards the last 10-15% of the tank.

    The reason for that is down to Henry's Law - the amount of gas dissolved in a liquid is proportional to the partial pressure of that gas.

    So, the N2 top-pressure will cause a certain amount of N2 to dissolve in the beer (assuming there's none there in the first place) and the CO2 already in solution will come out until it's top-pressure is proportional to the amount remaining dissolved.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Santa Rosa CA USA
    Posts
    950
    I have been a bit concerned about the purity of the nitrogen generators that I've seen. They claim high purity, but the purity drops with heavy use. It seems like it could leave too much oxygen in tank headspaces under some circumstances. Has anyone checked their purity?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    India
    Posts
    135
    We've been using a domnick hunter (aka Parker) nitrogen generator for about 4 years now. Its' production is about 1 cubic metre per hour @ 99.9% purity (monitored by an in-line O2 monitor) It has been running almost 24/7 unless I get a day off....HAHAHA!

    Long story short.... Yes, extra wear and tear on air compressor, and yearly maintainance. BUT, Higher purity then the CO2 we get and Over all less expensive.

    The biggest concern is storage. Plan on plenty to get the most of the generator. They are made to run.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Aldergrove, BC
    Posts
    22
    Thanks for the comments,does anyone have a favorite brand of generator

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Incline Village, NV
    Posts
    45

    Nitrogen bulk tank sizing and specs

    We are having a 40CFM nitrogen generator installed soon and the company is recommending a 60gal bulk tank. This seems small to us, and we're wondering what size bulk tanks other breweries are using for N2? We're using N2 for keg washing (3 head unit) and purging our 30bbl brite. Also, they are recommending a food-grade aluminum tank with a sterile filter. Any recommendations on tank material and filtration?
    Kevin Drake
    Alibi Ale Works
    North Lake Tahoe

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    2,057

    And what pressure are you generating?

    Key variable. Pressure is inverse to volume, so we need to know that first....
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Incline Village, NV
    Posts
    45
    Good point. We would maintain the bulk tank at 80-100 psi.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Kevin Drake
    Alibi Ale Works
    North Lake Tahoe

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Palau
    Posts
    2,057

    Sounds way undersized to me....

    40 cubic feet a minute won't cover your keg washer, will it? 30bbl BBT is about 125 cubic feet. Double that for a 15psi BBT pressure. So your BBT will use 250 cubic feet per your packaging time. Or per your BBT purge time if you fill with water and push out. Add that to your keg washer demand. 60 gallons is small. I have 500 gallon steel surge tank = 67 cubic feet at about 80psi for a 10bbl brewery. Aluminum? What's up with that? Steel is fine as your N2 will be bone dry and you have little to worry about with corrosion.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    San Francisco, California, United States
    Posts
    19

    Nitrogen Purity

    What purity are your generators rated for? 99, 99.5 or 99.9%?

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