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Efficient water use - Cooling

edited June 2013 in General

Hi All,

When I started distilling with the T500 one of the things that appealed to me was the water economy. Where I live we do pay for water but aside from that It's always good to be kind to the environment. I was keen to get a barrel or drum to hold 150 or 200 odd litres of water and a fish pond pump to feed it through the still condensors. That way I could use the same water over and over again. No doubt it will heat up somewhat during the process but how much I wonder?

Does anyone use a system like this with a StillDragon?

We are about to build a new house and I was wondering if I could bury a huge plastic drum full of water beside the garage foundations and have it plumbed in so it was out of the way. Any thoughts? Might need a grunty pump to lift the water up and into the garage where I'd be distilling and the feed hose would need to be low in the tank but there must be a way to do it. If it was big enough it may not even heat up too much during the course of a run. I guess you'd need to increase the pumps flow as it did warm.

Damo.

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  • I use a 180l reservoir & feed the flow from the still through a car radiator (with fan) before the water returns to the reservoir. The water does warm up over a spirit run.

    if you're building a house, why not install a large water tank & use that as your reservoir? Or build a pool & use it.

  • Yeah I thought about a radiator. The pool is the best idea though, I'll run that one past my wife and see if she thinks the expense of a pool, safety fence and all the required landscaping is warranted just to make some really good booze.

    Cheers, Damo.

  • wrong approach. It is a family leisure area ;-)

  • I tried to use a 275 gallon tank for cooling water. Works ok for product condensor but not for the Dephlagmenter. The water getting hotter and hotter screws with the reflux setting. For product condenser as long as the water is cooler then the vapor it works ok. My 275gall tank would go from 50F to 170F over the coarse of a 4 hr run. I got rid of it and plumbed it to constant cold water supply.

  • edited June 2013

    Several of us use a cooling tower type of design to help cool the return water and save on water changes. Basically water enters the top of the cooler and is spread out and slowed down by some type of media. Some use swamp cooler pads but the latest trick (I believe PrairiePiss deserves the credit) is to use Bio Balls. As the water is traveling down the tower a fan is used to force air up and through the Bio Balls and out the top of the tower taking heat and humidity with it.

    the efficiency of these units depends greatly on the environment they are in. If you still in a hot and humid location this design will not work well at all. But if your in a climate controlled area it should work fine... I ran for 5 hours before I had to do a water change on my last spirit run, but i have my AC and ceiling fans on high. I also vent the top of the tower to the outside so im not adding humidity back into my shop.

    One of us should really do a proper write up on this for the SD forums... and since i have been enjoying some of my product tonight, this is NOT a proper write up. :) But here are some pics of mine (that I copied from Hawks Design) that hopefully will get the idea across. At some sober time in the future ill attempt a proper write up.

    Here is a shot of the cooling tower:

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    Here is a closeup of the fan. It doesn't have to be this extreme of fan but the more airflow the better.

    image

    Here is a shot of the inside of the barrel. I added a float valve so I wont have anymore floods when i forget to turn the hose off. You can see a shot of the submersible pump in the bottom.

    image

    To hold the bio balls in place I sacrificed one of the better-halfs tupperware lids. Drilled some holes and siliconed in place

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    Here is a picture of what the Bio Balls look like:

    image

    And here is a short (boring) video that shows it in action

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VH9f0tHveeU

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  • This is crazy, I didn't even think of using the pool! :-B

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  • Probably better to run a heat exchanger coil into the pool water, instead of using the pool directly. The pool chemicals might interact with your cooling system pipework.

  • @Myles, my thoughts as well. Does someone already have such pool cooling in use? I'd love to see some photos on how to best solve that one.

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  • I use a 200l drum with a submersible pump, has plenty of power. I had heating issues till I put the tank outside and ran hose about 10m from tank to still, no more heat probs. Plus, I put in a 3way connector on my inlet and out let hoses and the connector seems to be acting as a heat sink.

  • I used to use a 200 litre drum and the only time I had trouble was on an extended cleaning run when I managed to get the full 200 litres very hot. I was just running a water / vinegar mix in the boiler on full reflux, and got distracted.

    I had intended to double tank it this time round with connected tanks, pumped from 1 and returned to the other, but am considering incorporating a fan driven cooler system instead.

  • @Moonshine said: Does someone already have such pool cooling in use? I'd love to see some photos on how to best solve that one.

    I've previously used the kids pool that was 3.4m across & 70cm deep. it didn't heat up. But sorry no pics.

  • I use a couple 20 gallon trash cans hooked together in series. I keep a dozen or so 2 liter soda bottles in the big freezer and drop them into the cans if the cooling water starts to get too warm. I occasionally drop a half a cup of bleach in the water to keep it from getting too funky.

  • edited October 2013

    My v6 commodore system, hooked up to a old solar camping deep cycle battery system and a borrowed "local bar bin"

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  • edited October 2013

    Immersion Coldfingers work really well for keeping reservoirs chilled. They're kind of spendy, but can be found for a decent price. Some of them have built in circulators too, so you don't even need a pump. Just clamp it into your reservoir and attach your plumbing directly to it.

    However...you can build a REALLY effective Coldfinger for under 30 bucks and it works amazingly well.

    From top to bottom:

    An old computer heat sink with fan -> 90 watt peltier chip -> 3/16 stainless steel plate -> stainless steel bolt welded to the plate.

    Thermopaste helps if you spread it between all the units.

    This one is someone else's, which gave me the inspiration to build mine:

    image

    You can insulate the top of the bolt too, depending on your situation.

    Clamp one or two of these to a 5 gallon buck and you can knock down a few kw at least. Maybe not big enough for the big dogs, but it works for hobby stillers.

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  • edited April 5

    I live in Australia where freezing water is not a problem. Many homes have rainwater (or fire fighting water) tanks. Running 5000 watts input to the condenser per hour, will raise 1000 litres of water in the cooling tank by about 4.3C per hour. We run a 4 inch column with a 65 watt magnetic drive coolant circulation pump and a series of 1000 litre shuttles (totes) - with one of the shuttles empty to start with. A 150 minute stripping run takes less than 1.5 shuttles. If a single large tank (say 5000 litres) is used - the coolant temperature would rise less than 1 degree C per hour with 5000 watt input.

    At home I run the wort chiller from mains water and send the output to fill the rainwater tank, or irrigate the garden area.

  • This is a very old thread, but currently I run 20KW of stripping power for over 4 hours on a single tote of cooling water in a tropical climate by using an oversized Product condenser(8" x 1.2M) and running the coolant so slow it gets to within 5-10C(9-18F) of the vapor temperature, but still cools the product to the incoming water temperature. I use a Danfoss thermostatic valve for this, like the big stills have.. Then the super hot water goes slowly thought a radiator/fan (hydronic unit heater, modine heater, many names) mounted on the outside of the building where it cools to within a few degrees of ambient, because it is going slowly and has time to cool off. Then it returns horizontally to the top of the tote where the inlet direction helps prevent mixing and a thermocline forms, you can feel it slowly work down on the outside of the tote. For stripping, I have 2 radiators that ate 24"x24" in series, and for spirit runs where I use the Reflux condenser, I use one for each. (the reflux is a closed system that only has a reservoir of about 1 liter and acts very much like a car cooling system, with a proportional valve acting like a thermostat to precisely control the internal temperature of the RC)

  • Well my cooling reservior is the kids pool which is 4 m wide by 10m long by 1.8m deep so I am not going to run out of cooling water. When I get to my shed I am going to need cooling systems like the radiater. Very cool.

  • Shed + Pool addition ??? >:D<

  • Yes I have thought about that. But I think I will end up having some tanks in series. I have to build a shed at a location that is not near my house. Its not the kind of place where you would put a pool.

  • Not sure about other countries, but in the US home pools require a lot of chlorine addition. How hard is that on copper or stainless still parts?

    At Cultus Bay Distillery (in which I'm p;laying a reduce consulting part for health reasons) , we've used a ~60 l coolant reservoir with a single automotive radiatot at first, and later an array of 3 better water/air heat exchangers. Once you get suffient airflow through the radiators, it works like a charm, and theoretically needs NO coolant reservoir. Thhe only real concerns (jn our climate) are freeze protection (RV water system propylene glycol antifreeze) and algae/bacteria accumulation (inline koi-pond UV radiation chamber).

    This is all upper most on my mind, as with huge production slowdown due to COVID19, we let the coolant pump on to keep UV-protection on. Somehow a coolant line came loose, pumped all the coolant onto the ground, while the pump kept running until the (necessarily hi-temp Buna-N seal) burned out. I got an emergency call yesterday morning from the owner that condensers weren't.

    Fortunately, we'd bought this pump from W. W. Grainger, so seal replacements are readily available, and as soon as somebody (else!) gets the pump oout where the part number can be read, we'll be ordering BOTH a new pump and a seal replacement B/M.

    I still think that for most coolant systems, an air/liquid heat exchanger system is a very good solution.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • US pools (and hot tubs with Bromine to a lesser extent) do eat copper. I used a domestic hot water panel (glass in front of a copper sheet soldered to copper tube ladder) to heat my hot tub for 7-8 years, the biggest danger was freezing... it split the pipes instantly... Interestingly, most US water systems have as much chlorine (or Chloramine) in the drinking water as a pool does...

    Another thing is that if you keep your cooling system clean, you can use water for cooling one day and for fermentation the next. That way your cooling water is always fresh...

  • I have thought about the chlorine corrosion issue but I have only been using the pool water for a couple of years and when I go to my shed I will use normal water I an going to have to put some kind of insectide and fungicide in it. Not certain which but it will have to be something.

    @CothermanDistilling Thanks for the tip on cooling water and fermentation. I am trying to figure out how my water systems will work so I can do heat recovery as well. Lots of things to do.

  • Things to think about:

    • Heating differential: The hotter something is the relatively easier it is to cool down.
    • Heat mass: The bigger the mass the longer it takes to heat up.
    • Surface area is one of the main factors in how much something can cool off. (eg look at the way a radiator is designed)
    • Materials used dictate how much heat can pass from hot to cold. (eg Copper over plastic)
    • The more time you have to cool the water off the better.

    If you're recycling water it's probably better to run your condenser so the exit temp is as hot as can be while still working properly. This means you're running slow and allowing the water to heat up more in the condenser and more time to cool off. If you run fast you won't be able to cool the water off as much even though it's cooler coming out of the condenser. Running fast will actually raise the reservoir temp faster. As a hypothetical you're dumping 1g of hot water a minute or 5g of warm water a minute into the reservoir, the latter will have more heat mass and it will heat up faster.

  • @CothermanDistilling said: US pools (and hot tubs with Bromine to a lesser extent) do eat copper. I used a domestic hot water panel (glass in front of a copper sheet soldered to copper tube ladder) to heat my hot tub for 7-8 years, the biggest danger was freezing... it split the pipes instantly... Interestingly, most US water systems have as much chlorine (or Chloramine) in the drinking water as a pool does...

    Another thing is that if you keep your cooling system clean, you can use water for cooling one day and for fermentation the next. That way your cooling water is always fresh...

    It's been a while, but I seem to remember needing to give the above-ground pool a periodic "chlorine shock" with a higher chlorine (as hypochlorite?) shock. I'm guessing that concentration would shorten the life of copper parts.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • Water to Air Heat Exchanger 12x15-36x36 with Copper Ports for Outdoor Wood Furnaces, Residential Heating and Cooling, and Forced Air Heating (12x12) @ Amazon

    This is the general type of heat exchanger we use. No delicate plastic or aluminum parts to connect to, and way bigger internal tubing than automotive radiators. Cheap, too.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • @zymurgybob said: It's been a while, but I seem to remember needing to give the above-ground pool a periodic "chlorine shock" with a higher chlorine (as hypochlorite?) shock. I'm guessing that concentration would shorten the life of copper parts.

    yes, tap water is often 4ppm in the US, and shocking a pool is taking it to 20ppm, but stable pool water is only 1-2ppm... Additionally shocking is done overnight, because sunlight eats chlorine, so if the pump for the cooling parts is off, you are fairly safe, but with SS you are even safer... other chemicals, like pool stain removers are so bad, they tell you not to run the pool pump while they are active!

  • @zymurgybob said: Water to Air Heat Exchanger 12x15-36x36 with Copper Ports for Outdoor Wood Furnaces, Residential Heating and Cooling, and Forced Air Heating (12x12) @ Amazon

    This is the general type of heat exchanger we use. No delicate plastic or aluminum parts to connect to, and way bigger internal tubing than automotive radiators. Cheap, too.

    Yes, I have 2 of these in the 200,000 btu 24"x24" size with fans, and upgrading to a 3rd.. Next week, I hope to put in my 3-way valves to make switching from separate RC and PC HX's to both HX's in series for the PC safer and less confusing than the 3 sets of quick disconnects I have now.

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  • Guys thanks for the pointers. I just found a couple here. Although they are not cheap. They look like they are a semi trailer motor cooler. 1.5" entry and exit ports. I really like the configuration that the water goes through the radiator before it goes to the reservoir. I think I will get one but pipe it up for two.

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