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Thread: 45 Deg Fermenter Cone Problem

  1. #1
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    45 Deg Fermenter Cone Problem

    So i've got 4 conical bottom fermenters and predictably, harvesting yeast is tough because the cone angles are all at 45 deg.

    The yeast sticks to the sides and won't drop down uniformly. I can get barely enough slurry for the next batch, and i'm leaving a lot behind and would like to split slurries down the line.

    Has anyone found a way to work around this problem? (other than buying new fermenters or welding on steeper cones)

    I'm envisioning some kind of tc fitting that sends a scraper or agitator up from the bottom drain, into the cone. i've even got a local engineer friend chomping at the bit to frankenstein something together.

    i can't be the first with this problem, so i wanted to see if a solution is already out there. any suggestions are greatly appreciated. thanks and cheers.

  2. #2
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    I know of a major brewing company which had a similar problem at one of their sites. They mirror finish polished the cones and just above in an attempt to get round this problem. Unfortunately I don't know if this worked. Of course, yeasts differ, so even if this worked with their yeasts, it would be no guarantee that it would work with your yeasts. I would not put in a scraper system, tempting though it might sound, as it introduces so many bug traps.

    Assuming you currently crop when cold, try cropping the yeast a little earlier than you currently do, so it has only just had time to settle - so you get a thinner yeast slurry at a higher temperature (i.e. don't cool it to 2 or 4 deg C before cropping, but take it off warm), and make sure it runs of slowly - probably much slower than you would really like. Obviously you will have to cool it rapidly once off the cone.
    dick

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PWB View Post
    So i've got 4 conical bottom fermenters and predictably, harvesting yeast is tough because the cone angles are all at 45 deg.

    The yeast sticks to the sides and won't drop down uniformly. I can get barely enough slurry for the next batch, and i'm leaving a lot behind and would like to split slurries down the line.

    Has anyone found a way to work around this problem? (other than buying new fermenters or welding on steeper cones)

    I'm envisioning some kind of tc fitting that sends a scraper or agitator up from the bottom drain, into the cone. i've even got a local engineer friend chomping at the bit to frankenstein something together.

    i can't be the first with this problem, so i wanted to see if a solution is already out there. any suggestions are greatly appreciated. thanks and cheers.
    I have a couple suggestions. Sparkling wineries "riddle" the bottles to gradually get the yeast into the neck. You can do the same with a large industrial vibrator, held on the cone for a couple minutes, repeating over a couple days. Each time I'd expect the yeast to work it's way down the cone.

    The other suggestion is to switch to top-cropping, which may not be an option for you.

    Regards,
    Mike Sharp

  4. #4
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    Unless the FV is pressurised appropriately to keep the CO2 in solution, I strongly suspect that this will simply rouse the yeast back into suspension. I think this is why sparkling wine makers can get away with it. But if pressurised to maintain CO2 completely dissolved, then this could be worth a try - perhaps even trial it using a rubber mallet on the cone if it is uninsulated.
    dick

  5. #5
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    Hello. I think normally is 60 degree cone in fermenter?


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  6. #6
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    thanks for the input.... yeah, i've tried harvesting before crashing, gone super slow, even the rubber mallet. and yes, the angle should be 60 degrees, minimum. before these tanks i had never seen cones with less than a 60 degree angle, didn't know it could exist. don't know why these were made this way.

    now, "industrial vibrator" sounds interesting... or it sounds like a late night movie on a pay channel. but seriously, maybe something like that could work...

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PWB View Post
    thanks for the input.... yeah, i've tried harvesting before crashing, gone super slow, even the rubber mallet. and yes, the angle should be 60 degrees, minimum. before these tanks i had never seen cones with less than a 60 degree angle, didn't know it could exist. don't know why these were made this way.

    now, "industrial vibrator" sounds interesting... or it sounds like a late night movie on a pay channel. but seriously, maybe something like that could work...
    Dick's point about rousing in an unpressurized vessel makes me doubt about whether it would work, but then it's easy enough to try out, I guess. Are your tanks unitanks?

    Regards,
    Mike

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rdcpro View Post
    Dick's point about rousing in an unpressurized vessel makes me doubt about whether it would work, but then it's easy enough to try out, I guess. Are your tanks unitanks?

    Regards,
    Mike
    tanks are unitanks, pressurized. i've been looking into portable industrial vibrators, ones they use to keep grain flowing out of silos, stuff like that. i can't find any examples of using these gizmos on semi-solids in liquid mediums. seems like it could work, but who knows. the vibrators are pricey, around 1200-1500 bucks. i'd love to hear of a real example of this working before plunking down that much money. i like the theory, and it might be the only potential solution.

  9. #9
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    Update, problem mostly solved!

    Well whaddaya know, i got a hold of one of these industrial vibrators (boy, they need another name for these), and it was a big help. By harvesting very slowly while vibrating the cone, i increased my slurry by around 70%. This solution was neither perfect nor cheap, but was definitely the most economical and practical. Eventually i'll have fermenters with the proper angle on the cone, but until then i can manage.

    The vibrator is portable, and attaches itself to the fermenter with a flexible seal and vacuum, using clean, compressed air. See photos...

    The real lesson, of course, is to make sure the equipment you're buying has the proper characteristics. As i said before, i didn't realize fermenters were ever made with 45 degree cones. I tell people it's like buying a car and finding out the gas tank is optional. But the fault is mine, i should have been more diligent.

    I hope this thread helps anyone else who finds themselves in the same pickle. Thanks to everyone for your help.
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  10. #10
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    What is the make and model of this unit? I doubt if I will ever get asked for this solution, but it would be useful to have a starting point, even if that particular make is not available easily here in Europe. Cheers
    dick

  11. #11
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    This may be an anomaly

    Cones don't look like typical jacketed cones, but instead single layer metal. So vibrator in this one instance might work well, but for better made fermenters with thin skin jackets it would not be a good option. Glad it worked for you.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  12. #12
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    So you have a tiny hose hooked up to the FV - im guessing because your going into a corny? Try a yeast brink with a min. 1" id TC and you'll get better flow.
    Last edited by Ted Briggs; 02-15-2019 at 07:47 AM.
    Brewmaster, Minocqua Brewing Company
    tbriggs@minocquabrewingcompany.com
    "Your results may vary"

  13. #13
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    Not sure why?

    Ted, thought the whole idea was to restrict flow so that the yeast comes slowly. Could you please elaborate on your flow comment?
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

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