Recirculating Water Cooling System

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Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Mon May 17, 2010 2:15 pm

Hi people,

I need to make a recirculating water cooling system for my reflux setup and I was hoping someone on here had some plans for a setup that already works, saving me some time and money on experimenting and building a few different contraptions until I get something that works.

I'm in a very "dry" place so won't be able to go to a home brew shop for anything. Most sorts of plumbing supplies are available though, but not sure about pond pumps. Online shopping is my other option.

I'd really appreciate some help here, thanks in advance :D
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby olddog » Mon May 17, 2010 2:25 pm

This is a problem in dry countries, we have the problem in OZ and have to pay for water. You should have a water container as big if not bigger than your boiler, I have a 50lt keg boiler, and use a 60lt plastic garbage bin for cooling water, this is pumped with an aquarium pump which will pump 60lt per hour, the water is then returned to the garbage bin and only gets warm for an entire run. This water is then left in the garbage bin until the next run.


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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Mon May 17, 2010 2:57 pm

Thanks mate. I only have a 14 litre boiler but I would have thought I'd need a reasonably large output pump to push the water around the column? I've seen schematics on here with a bypass valve built in so the pump can be run flat out and excess water bypassed back to the reservoir.

No need for a matrix and cooling fan or some other cooling idea to cool the water before returning to the reservoir?
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby olddog » Mon May 17, 2010 3:02 pm

Rasalbargi wrote:I've seen schematics on here with a bypass valve built in so the pump can be run flat out and excess water bypassed back to the reservoir.

You only need to bleed of if your pump is too powerfull, then the bleed of is used to reduce the backpressure.
Rasalbargi wrote:No need for a matrix and cooling fan or some other cooling idea to cool the water before returning to the reserv

Many people have tried this, but I find it not neccessary.

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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby kiwistiller » Mon May 17, 2010 3:39 pm

Rasalbargi wrote:No need for a matrix and cooling fan or some other cooling idea to cool the water before returning to the reservoir?

I would suggest that it may be necessary, depending on your reflux design and the length of a normal run. I'm looking to install one into mine. I'll just use a car radiator.
Rasalbargii wrote: Thanks mate. I only have a 14 litre boiler but I would have thought I'd need a reasonably large output pump to push the water around the column? I've seen schematics on here with a bypass valve built in so the pump can be run flat out and excess water bypassed back to the reservoir.

A three way ball valve would be the easy way to do this... I've built my setup with a cheap submersible pump and garden hose fittings (brass)
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Tue May 18, 2010 12:17 am

kiwistiller wrote:
Rasalbargi wrote:No need for a matrix and cooling fan or some other cooling idea to cool the water before returning to the reservoir?

I would suggest that it may be necessary, depending on your reflux design and the length of a normal run. I'm looking to install one into mine. I'll just use a car radiator.

I have one of these types:
Image
Image

Run time is only two hours. One hour to bring to temp (with no water running anyway), then two hours for collecting.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby kiwistiller » Tue May 18, 2010 12:33 am

Okay, with one of them, you need to try and keep the cooling water at the exact same temperature. I'd consider a radiator (or a really large reservoir) essential.

For what it's worth if you look around there are a few mods to improve that design.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Tue May 18, 2010 12:39 am

kiwistiller wrote:Okay, with one of them, you need to try and keep the cooling water at the exact same temperature. I'd consider a radiator (or a really large reservoir) essential.

Bugger. Are all reflux designs basically as heavy on the water usage?

kiwistiller wrote:For what it's worth if you look around there are a few mods to improve that design.

Oh, I don't even know what the design's called so that I can look for mods.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Teddysad » Tue May 18, 2010 1:08 am

I'd suggest a radiator is the answer with a simple fan (and hence low power and cost) to bring and keep the temp down
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Tue May 18, 2010 3:10 am

Teddysad wrote:I'd suggest a radiator is the answer with a simple fan (and hence low power and cost) to bring and keep the temp down


Yeah, but what rating pump would I need? I've looked at submersible pond pumps and waterfall pumps but ponds and waterfalls wouldn't have the additional pressure of pumping through the cooling jacket and through a cooling matrix.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby kiwistiller » Tue May 18, 2010 3:42 am

It's a cooling management (CM) unit... bit outdated. The easiest change is to take out that bottom crossline and put it at the top, 90 degrees to the other one. Then change from rings / marbles to mesh. I would think that the old style cm like that would be more thirsty than others, because of the very small surface area of the reflux condensers (relative to the coils etc of LM or VM), so you'd have to put a fair bit through it? I'd guess that at least. My old CM was built differently.
I would guess anything around 1000 l/hr would be alright. but yeah that's a guess. not too many of those units around anymore, so might be hard to get actual data. maybe hook it up to mains and test the flow rates needed?
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby mrhooch » Tue May 18, 2010 5:16 am

Ras:

It all really depends on how much heat you are going to apply to the system, which determines the amount of cooling flow. That of course and the temprature differential between the coolant water and the alcohol vapour.

I use a mag drive pump used for ponds and aquariums. It is rated for 1000 gph at 0" of head. However it can only provide about 5' of lift. When I run, I put it in the cooling bucket on the top of an upside down garbage can so it doesn't have to lift as much.

A very sleazy rad can be obtained by using the heat exchanger out of an old air conditioner. Even comes with a fan.

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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Tue May 18, 2010 11:26 am

kiwistiller wrote:It's a cooling management (CM) unit... bit outdated. The easiest change is to take out that bottom crossline and put it at the top, 90 degrees to the other one. Then change from rings / marbles to mesh. I would think that the old style cm like that would be more thirsty than others, because of the very small surface area of the reflux condensers (relative to the coils etc of LM or VM), so you'd have to put a fair bit through it? I'd guess that at least. My old CM was built differently.
I would guess anything around 1000 l/hr would be alright. but yeah that's a guess. not too many of those units around anymore, so might be hard to get actual data. maybe hook it up to mains and test the flow rates needed?

Thanks for that Kiwi. I changed from marbles to pot scrubbers some time ago. I can't find the info you're talking about though about moving the crossline. Will that mod mean I need to use less water when running the still or will it produce a better product?

I only use a 14 litre pot (old pressure cooker) which takes an hour to bring to boil then I turn the water on. Once I've got the water on and collected the foreshots, it runs for around 2 hours before the temperature starts to rise, indicating (well, to me anyway) that all the good stuff has been removed. I turn the water way down low and collect the tails until the temperature hits 95* (takes about 20 minutes or so) then turn it off. I normally drop the collected tails into the next "cook" and in the 2 hours in runs for, the temperature doesn't move and I collect around 2 litres that is always at least 94%. I don't know if those figures are particularly impressive or fairly average but is there much to be gained by modifying my still?

Oh, I worked out tonight that I've been using water at 700 litres per hour :shock: :shock:


mrhooch wrote:Ras:

It all really depends on how much heat you are going to apply to the system, which determines the amount of cooling flow. That of course and the temprature differential between the coolant water and the alcohol vapour.

I use a mag drive pump used for ponds and aquariums. It is rated for 1000 gph at 0" of head. However it can only provide about 5' of lift. When I run, I put it in the cooling bucket on the top of an upside down garbage can so it doesn't have to lift as much.

A very sleazy rad can be obtained by using the heat exchanger out of an old air conditioner. Even comes with a fan.

Hooch.


I went to the garden center tonight and see that they have two different submersible pond pumps for sale. One is a 3000 Lph with a 2.7m head the other is a 2000 Lph with a 2.1m head. Do those figures make sense?

I've been thinking about this all day and have come up with 2 different ways to do this.

1. I use the 3000 Lph pump in the bottom of 60L (I think) barrel that I run into the still, the water then exits the still and goes into a small cooling matrix/radiator then from there is dumped back into the barrel. Would the 3000 Lph pump should handle that.

2. I use a 2000 Lph pump to just cycle the water from the 60L barrel into the still and back to the barrel and use a second 2000 Lph pump to cycle the water in the barrel through a cooling matrix/radiator.

So what do you guys think? The place I'm moving to has left space at a premium and while I could get a larger barrel for cooling, I'd rather try and stick with the smaller 60L one.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby MuleKicker » Tue May 18, 2010 12:14 pm

I dont know how conserative you have to be on water but, I do spirit runs at about 1900w and have a really precise water valve. I just did a run the other day and for the hell of it put my output into a 6 gal container to see how long it took to fill. it took over 2 hrs. keep in mind output water was pretty hot , but thats ok as long as it knocks down the vapor.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby mrhooch » Tue May 18, 2010 2:58 pm

Sounds a bit bigger than the one I got, but no matter, it'll work. You don't need as much flow as you might think, you should be able to drain through a rad, but perhaps consider using maybe a car heater core, pretty cheap, don't need pressure just the gravity alone should do the trick.

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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Tue May 18, 2010 3:16 pm

I might just try the first setup but with the 2000Lph pump then? I can always add a second pump if I need to.

A car heater core would be damn perfect! I have a computer fan that I reckon will shift enough air through the heater core to make a pretty good cooler. Good idea mate, thanks :ebiggrin:
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby kiwistiller » Tue May 18, 2010 4:22 pm

Rasalbargi wrote:Thanks for that Kiwi. I changed from marbles to pot scrubbers some time ago. I can't find the info you're talking about though about moving the crossline. Will that mod mean I need to use less water when running the still or will it produce a better product?

It will use the same amount of water but you'll get a much purer product. While it's a little bit tempting to simplify and say that the amount of heat in dictates the water usage, that's not true. why your design is thirsty is because of the really small surface area of the reflux tubes inside the column. I guess you could improve on it by adding multiple lines, or dropping a coil / coldfinger down from the top (making sure takeoff is clear).

Rasalbargi wrote:I only use a 14 litre pot (old pressure cooker) which takes an hour to bring to boil then I turn the water on. Once I've got the water on and collected the foreshots, it runs for around 2 hours before the temperature starts to rise, indicating (well, to me anyway) that all the good stuff has been removed. I turn the water way down low and collect the tails until the temperature hits 95* (takes about 20 minutes or so) then turn it off. I normally drop the collected tails into the next "cook" and in the 2 hours in runs for, the temperature doesn't move and I collect around 2 litres that is always at least 94%. I don't know if those figures are particularly impressive or fairly average but is there much to be gained by modifying my still?

Oh, I worked out tonight that I've been using water at 700 litres per hour :shock: :shock:

probably add a bit to your l/hr rating to add to the still's friction, backpressure etc.
that figure (abv) does sound really, really high for one of those units. Are you measuring at the right temperature? have you checked how accurate your alcometer is? If it's all good then good for you :D

Rasalbargi wrote:I might just try the first setup but with the 2000Lph pump then? I can always add a second pump if I need to.

you want the radiator to be inline with the cooling water out, because it will be more effective at a large temperature differential. make sure you have some sort of three way valve or bypass in there, because you'll need to restrict flow to your reflux lines to control the still.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Wed May 19, 2010 3:11 am

kiwistiller wrote:
Rasalbargi wrote:Thanks for that Kiwi. I changed from marbles to pot scrubbers some time ago. I can't find the info you're talking about though about moving the crossline. Will that mod mean I need to use less water when running the still or will it produce a better product?

It will use the same amount of water but you'll get a much purer product. While it's a little bit tempting to simplify and say that the amount of heat in dictates the water usage, that's not true. why your design is thirsty is because of the really small surface area of the reflux tubes inside the column. I guess you could improve on it by adding multiple lines, or dropping a coil / coldfinger down from the top (making sure takeoff is clear).

Rasalbargi wrote:I only use a 14 litre pot (old pressure cooker) which takes an hour to bring to boil then I turn the water on. Once I've got the water on and collected the foreshots, it runs for around 2 hours before the temperature starts to rise, indicating (well, to me anyway) that all the good stuff has been removed. I turn the water way down low and collect the tails until the temperature hits 95* (takes about 20 minutes or so) then turn it off. I normally drop the collected tails into the next "cook" and in the 2 hours in runs for, the temperature doesn't move and I collect around 2 litres that is always at least 94%. I don't know if those figures are particularly impressive or fairly average but is there much to be gained by modifying my still?

Oh, I worked out tonight that I've been using water at 700 litres per hour :shock: :shock:

probably add a bit to your l/hr rating to add to the still's friction, backpressure etc.
that figure (abv) does sound really, really high for one of those units. Are you measuring at the right temperature? have you checked how accurate your alcometer is? If it's all good then good for you :D

Rasalbargi wrote:I might just try the first setup but with the 2000Lph pump then? I can always add a second pump if I need to.

you want the radiator to be inline with the cooling water out, because it will be more effective at a large temperature differential. make sure you have some sort of three way valve or bypass in there, because you'll need to restrict flow to your reflux lines to control the still.


I went into town this morning and bought the 2000Lph pump and a small condenser and fan. I won't be able to get into it for a week or two but I'll post some pics once I knobble it all together. I'll run from the pump, through a T piece, into the still, out of the still into the cooler, out of the cooler, return to the reservoir. At the still inlet T piece, I'll install a valve so I can bypass back to the reservoir for reflux control. That sound right?

I have my alcometer and a backup (PITA out here when you drop it) and they both read the same, as does a mate's. But, whenever I check it, I just plop the alcometer in when the jug of collected product's been sitting on the kitchen bench for a while. Kitchen temperature's at 23 - 24*C so correction would be subtracting around 1 - 1.5%, so I guess I'm churning out closer to %92abv. The still is so regular and reliable, I sort of check out of habit and to show up any problems. However, it's quite sweet and smooth when it's neat. I always cut it to 40%abv (temperature corrected) then run it through carbon and then charcoal, then it goes on wood chips. Not a bad drop for where I am :roll:
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby kiwistiller » Wed May 19, 2010 4:00 am

Oh yip 94 is actually a lot higher than 92, each % comes a lot harder as you go up. that's still pretty good for that design, you should be stoked :D

That setup sounds great.
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby Rasalbargi » Wed May 19, 2010 8:13 am

kiwistiller wrote:Oh yip 94 is actually a lot higher than 92, each % comes a lot harder as you go up. that's still pretty good for that design, you should be stoked :D

That setup sounds great.

I built mine a few years ago with a pdf file I downloaded and have never really looked back. What design reflux setup would you say is the best?
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Re: Recirculating Water Cooling System

Postby kiwistiller » Wed May 19, 2010 12:49 pm

hmm I guess for neutral the best would have to be either VM-E-ARC (vapour management with electronic auto reflux control) or LM-E-ARC (liquid...) but there isn't much info publicly available on it (you have to by Riku's book, designing and building automatic stills, from amphora). The next after that would be either a boka style LM or standard VM design.
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