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Thread: Keg Washer design

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Keg Washer design

    I thought I'd share the design for the keg washer I'm building. This is just the plumbing layout that the PLC will control for preforming the various cleaning cycles. I think the advantage this layout is the ability to use a single pump for transferring fluids rather than dedicated equipment for caustic and sanitizer. Let me know if anyone has anything I could do differently to improve this or any questions/comments.
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  2. #2
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    May 2012
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    I am planning to build a keg washer using an old 3 bin stainless steel sink. What plc are you going to use? I was just going to start with the Frankebrew version but if I can build a plug and play version for a reasonable price I might take a chance.

    Jason

  3. #3
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    Feb 2012
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    The overall design is simple and typical to many other keg washers out there (which is a good thing). You don't necessarily need to re-invent the wheel. What separates a good keg washer from a great one are the details. Washing kegs is mostly blind faith. Yes you can and should spot check your kegs but you certainly should not need to visually check every keg. We spend so much time cleaning our tanks, hoses, fittings, etc. and then go and package our finished "clean" product in a sealed re-usable container. Kegs are an excellent source of sleepless nights. I will list out what I look for in a keg washer.

    1. Fresh water reservoir needs to have a float valve that will maintain a fill level. Do not recycle rinse water.
    2. Caustic tank needs a heating element and preferably a conductivity probe to automatically dose fresh caustic.
    3. Use a low-water cut-off conductivity sensor in the caustic tank to prevent the heating element from being exposed to air.
    4. Ditch the sanitizer reservoir. Use an inline dosing pump with the rinse water to use fresh sani on every keg cycle.
    5. Keep the third tank as an option for caustic and acid cycling cycles. The acid should be automatically dosed into the acid tank using a pH probe.
    6. Since you will be using one pump, allow a pump priming delay in the PLC programing to flood the inlet before kicking on the pump.
    7. The pump should have a VFD to allow for cleaning the shells and the dip tube in the kegs.
    8. Use a pressure transducer for pressurizing the kegs with CO2 at the end of the cleaning cycle. CO2 supply varies with every install. Don't rely on time.
    9. Pitch you piping so that all the residual water can drain from the process pipes at the end of the day.

    As for the programming, allow the user to change every step of the process (times, sequences, temps, pH's, conductivity, VFD speed, etc.). Have a factory setting that can't be changed in addition to 3-4 cleaning profiles. The big thing is flexibility. You will get inundated with program change requests if the Brewer can't control the machine as they require.

    I would love to see another great keg washer option on the market. Best of luck with the project! Watch your costs. Try and keep the washer as close to $10k as possible.

    Cheers,
    James

  4. #4
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    Dec 2017
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    I ended up using an Ace PLC (http://velocio.net/). The programming was easier than typical ladder logic but still powerful enough to interface with an HMI via Modbus. I'm also using a modified 3-bay sink.
    Great tips NHBrewer23, I ended up implementing everything you suggested except 4,5, and 7 in my final design, LOL. But because my design is single phase, I don't believe VFD's are an option. If it becomes an issue I'll implement a variable restrictor on the outlet of the pump to reduce flow enough for spear cleaning. #8 is a great idea, I'll throw a sensor into the mix to automate the pressure cycle. Here's a few HMI screenshots.Name:  hmi 1.jpg
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  5. #5
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    ABB sells a single-phase VFDs. I used to use them all the time. The pump will need to be 3-phase though. The ABB drive internally converts incoming voltage, whether it is single or 3-phase and converts it to a 3-phase output. The controls within the drive are DC. They are magical little boxes.

  6. #6
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    Palau
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    Everyone makes single phase VFDs....

    Some of them even in washdown designs. I've got one on my CIP cart. In keg washers, they are very useful to soft-start the pump motor as well as slow it down to a trickle at the end of the wash and sani cycle. This slow trickle ensures that the spear is washed, sanitized. Jason has outlined well the other points I would make. Not a fan of #5, as we use titration as acid efficacy test. I like acid cleaning and do not regularly use caustic. Make sure your heating element is up to the job you give it. If you have a good water supply that can handle the flow rate at required pressure, then the fresh water reservoir isn't needed.

    One addition: Vent the caustic/acid tank outside. Fumes from the hot caustic/acid will inundate your work area as the level rises and falls in the reservoir. Sometimes very aerosolized as the keg blows the last of the cleaner into the reservoir. I've had corrosion issues on equipment near the keg cleaner when we didn't have it vented properly.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  7. #7
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    Dec 2017
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    Gave it a test run last night. Slight design flaw when only washing one keg, exhaust or out wants to travel to the unused coupler instead of the manifold. I can fix it with a check valve though. other than that seems to work well! Now to tune the timing and start the next project.Name:  1a.jpg
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  8. #8
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    Normal. If you only need to clean one keg, use another clean one for a complete cycle. Limit your check valves! They will most certainly fail and it is difficult to diagnose unless you do what you just did. Only a user who suspects an issue will test a check valve. Otherwise, they are treated as fail-proof. Keg washers are brutal. You have extreme chemical swings every cycle. Seals will inevitably get worn and fail. Keep it simple. This was not meant to be some sort of attack. I don't know your background and I feel compelled to help you make the best damn keg washer out there.

    Cheers,
    James

  9. #9
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    Dec 2017
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    Minneapolis, MN, USA
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by NHBrewer23 View Post
    Normal. If you only need to clean one keg, use another clean one for a complete cycle. Limit your check valves! They will most certainly fail and it is difficult to diagnose unless you do what you just did. Only a user who suspects an issue will test a check valve. Otherwise, they are treated as fail-proof. Keg washers are brutal. You have extreme chemical swings every cycle. Seals will inevitably get worn and fail. Keep it simple. This was not meant to be some sort of attack. I don't know your background and I feel compelled to help you make the best damn keg washer out there.

    Cheers,
    James
    That's good advice! I have to keep reminding my self to keep things simple especially with the HMI programming. Training on this thing should be 5 minutes tops and the more "over-explaining" I have to do, the less user-friendly it will be.
    Hopefully, seals won't be too much of an issue, I used stainless, Viton, and PTFE for everything. Also, trust me, I welcome criticism and appreciate the support that's exactly why I posted this.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
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    Minneapolis, MN, USA
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    Small update, I found that the sink idea was a bad approach. When blowing out sani or caustic back into their respective tanks it creates a huge mess with all of the pressure being released like a jacuzzi. I've decided to convert a couple of Sake Kegs as holding tanks and just connect the city water hose to the water in port.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
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    Europe
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    That was my thought too.
    What are diameters of inlet/outlet on sankey kegs?

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