Chilling Trial-and-Error

Plate Chiller Setup

Final plate chiller setup: wort in and out via camlocks, and water in and out via two garden hose hook-ups.

To complement the Chugger Pump I recently installed in my Brewtus-Ten-like homebrew stand, I purchased a 30-plate chiller from Dudadiesel (model no. B3-23A). Before officially sending beer through it, I figured I’d make sure it really would chill 10 gallons of wort in 5.4 minutes.

First, some notes on Dudadiesel’s claims [PDF].  As plainly stated on the chart, the claim is for a target temperature of 75 °F.  Unfortunately, the temperature for their incoming chill water temperature used for this same claim is 68 °F.  Considering that we want to pitch yeast, and ferment most beers, in the mid-to-high 60’s, this claim information isn’t all that useful.  There’s simply no way to chill wort below the incoming water temperature (I discuss the importance of knowing your incoming chill water temperature elsewhere).

Chilling Trial 1 Temperature

Trial 1: though it only took two minutes, the finished “wort” temperature was too high.

I did two trials.  In each trial, I brought 5.5 gallons of plain water to boiling temperature (and left it at boiling temperature only a minute, just only long enough to double-check that everything was hooked up).  Once at boiling temperature, I turned on my chilling water at the hose spigot and once I had water exiting the plate chiller discharge, I turned on the pump and began the chilling process.  The pump was run until the boil kettle was empty, the elapsed time was noted with a stopwatch, and the chilled water was captured in a secondary kettle equipped with a thermometer to check the final temperature.

Chilling Trial 2 Ball Valve

Trial 2: the one-third-open position on the ball valve.

First, the results, and then some additional discussion & notes.

Trial 1

  • Date: September 1, 2013
  • Air temp: 72 °F (approximate. at time of trial)
  • Chill water temp: 64.2 °F
  • Elapsed time: 2 minutes, 7 seconds
  • Finished temp: 76-77 °F

Trial 2

  • Date: September 3, 2013
  • Air temp: 64 °F (approximate, at time of trial)
  • Chill water temp: 59.4 °F
  • Elapsed time: 4 minutes, 34 seconds
  • Finished temp: 63.4 °F
Chilling Trial 2 Flow Rate

Trial 2: the liquid flow rate is noticeably less than the maximum the hose can (and did) handle.

In Trial 1, I fully opened the ball valve on my pump.  I had recalled only Dudadiesel’s claim of “10 gallon batch in 5.4 minutes”, and for my 5.5 gallon batch, was underwhelmed that it couldn’t do half the amount in half the time.  If my chill water were cooler—say, if this was mid-Winter—I bet I could chill to the mid-60’s in 2 minutes.

In Trial 2, I started at about two-thirds open and (eventually) closed my ball valve to perhaps one-third open.  Using a Thermapen, I was able to watch in real-time the output temperature drop as I moved the ball valve from 2/3 to 1/3 open.

Chilling Trial 2 Final Temp

Trial 2: a nice mid-to-low 60s value in less than five minutes.

In Trial 2, it’s also interesting to note that my finished temperature is only four degrees higher than the chilling water temperature.  Given my speculation elsewhere, it’s good to know that even with the higher chill water temperatures observed during Trial 1, I could still have theoretically reached a temperature below 70 °F.

As for why the two different trials—only two days apart—observed chill water temperatures about five degrees apart, I am not sure.

Useful? Share this:Share on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrPin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone
Loading Facebook Comments ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *