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Thread: using a CO2 flow meter for more consistent carbonation

  1. #1
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    using a CO2 flow meter for more consistent carbonation

    I have been thinking about adding a flow meter inline between the carb stones on my tanks and the CO2 line, mostly for the purpose of having a more consistent flow rate of CO2 and having a better ability to dial in very low flow rates for gentler carbonation. It's not always practical to calculate the line length, carb stone breaking pressure, beer osmotic pressure, and tank pressure, so my brewers end up adjusting CO2 inlet pressure using "the force" (listening, feeling, then taking regular zahm readings). Is anyone out there using a simple flow meter to improve consistency in force carbonation? If so, I'd appreciate any feedback or recommendations on appropriate flow meter L/min ranges. FYI - most of our tank are 30bbls.
    Kevin Drake
    Alibi Ale Works
    North Lake Tahoe

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    Toronto, Canada
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    rotameter

    Quote Originally Posted by thedrake View Post
    I have been thinking about adding a flow meter inline between the carb stones on my tanks and the CO2 line, mostly for the purpose of having a more consistent flow rate of CO2 and having a better ability to dial in very low flow rates for gentler carbonation. It's not always practical to calculate the line length, carb stone breaking pressure, beer osmotic pressure, and tank pressure, so my brewers end up adjusting CO2 inlet pressure using "the force" (listening, feeling, then taking regular zahm readings). Is anyone out there using a simple flow meter to improve consistency in force carbonation? If so, I'd appreciate any feedback or recommendations on appropriate flow meter L/min ranges. FYI - most of our tank are 30bbls.
    I use a rotameter with a needle valve for flow control.

    i got them from Omega:
    https://www.omega.ca/en/sensors-and-...600/p/FL4201-V

    Figure out your flow rate range in SCFM to select the right size.

  3. #3
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    Denver, CO
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    http://www.dwyer-inst.com/market/WEA...eArea/SeriesVF

    This is what we use and it works very well, we just make sure its shut before turning on the co2 and slowly opening it to avoid pancaking the float.

  4. #4
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    What flow rate range are you using, and for what size tanks?
    Kevin Drake
    Alibi Ale Works
    North Lake Tahoe

  5. #5
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    Palau
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    That's not really applicable...

    Rotameters are built for a particular gas--most often NOT CO2. There are charts/equations to equate one gas flow rate to another. Rotameters are also built for a certain temperature. Again, there are charts/equations to correlate one temperature to another. And then rotameters are built for a certain pressure. And there are yet other equations/charts to correlate differing pressures. What I'm getting at is that it doesn't much matter. Use the numbers on the rotameter as a guide for reproducibility, not as a quantitative measurement. You could use careful Zahm measurements before and after a certain time at a certain flow rate to compensate for all factors at once. You know you've hit your limit of injection when the head pressure goes up without saturating the liquid. That indicates blowing the CO2 through the liquid, as opposed to dissolving the gas into solution.
    Phillip Kelm--Palau Brewing Company Manager--

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gitchegumee View Post
    Rotameters are built for a particular gas--most often NOT CO2. There are charts/equations to equate one gas flow rate to another. Rotameters are also built for a certain temperature. Again, there are charts/equations to correlate one temperature to another. And then rotameters are built for a certain pressure. And there are yet other equations/charts to correlate differing pressures. What I'm getting at is that it doesn't much matter. Use the numbers on the rotameter as a guide for reproducibility, not as a quantitative measurement. You could use careful Zahm measurements before and after a certain time at a certain flow rate to compensate for all factors at once. You know you've hit your limit of injection when the head pressure goes up without saturating the liquid. That indicates blowing the CO2 through the liquid, as opposed to dissolving the gas into solution.
    thanks gitchegumee. we're on the same page. using a rotometer will give us consistent flow rates but the exact volumes of CO2 requires zahm tests to dial in. I'm mostly looking to a flow meter to reassure me that CO2 is in fact flowing at very low flow rates. I like to carb slowly and not have to take a zahm reading every 30 minutes. I just purchased a rotameter with a range of 5-50 LPM, so I think that will get us in an appropriate flow rate range for carbing our 30bbl tanks (i.e. not too fast, not too slow).
    Kevin Drake
    Alibi Ale Works
    North Lake Tahoe

  7. #7
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    Aug 2019
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    Brunswick, GA
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    Quote Originally Posted by mgustafson View Post
    http://www.dwyer-inst.com/market/WEA...eArea/SeriesVF

    This is what we use and it works very well, we just make sure its shut before turning on the co2 and slowly opening it to avoid pancaking the float.
    Which particular model from that link are you using? I was thinking of getting the VFA-4 which is 1-10 SCFH. Sound about right?

    Thanks,

  8. #8
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    Sep 2012
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    You got it

    1-10 scfm is right where you want to be, for a small, 30bbl-ish-and-under tank.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeyB View Post
    1-10 scfm is right where you want to be, for a small, 30bbl-ish-and-under tank.
    Thanks, would I be able to use that one for my 7BBL tank as well as my 1/2BBL pilot tank? Also, does it matter if it’s the 2” scale or 4” scale?

    Thanks,
    Last edited by StrayDogBrewing; 10-02-2019 at 03:44 PM.

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