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Sizing a Coolant Reservoir

All the discussion on deflegm cooling automation and pumps has got me wanting to switch over to using a reservoir instead of pulling from the mains. I am running a 15.5 gal 4" rig with up to 4 plates and a 36" x 4" packed column for the occasional neutrals run, and was thinking about daisy chaining two 55 rain drums together with a sump pump in the first and hot water return to the second to provide a bit of a thermal break. What are folks' experience with reservoir size to still size, and does 100 gal sound like enough for me?

I have seen examples of people using columns packed with bio balls, radiators etc. to cool the hot water before it goes back to the system, so I may do something like that to stretch the capacity if needed. Thanks in advance

Comments

  • 100 gal of water is a grate start. If I was you I would start off with the 100 gal and a sump pump and just do a run see what happens. Keep an eye on your water temps in the drums for me thats as simple as a quick hand dip.
    If you want you could pick up a old car raidator and set up a cooling fan on it and run your return out it.
    I can run a 1000lt cube for about 6 hours be for the water starts to get to warm for my liking.

  • I have about 600 litres (157 US gallons) and i wish i had double that. Used to be just fine for long runs in my potstill and was a little inadequate for long VM runs.

    It's only when you start using two condensors that you run into trouble. There's some good radiator builds around that people are using small tanks indefinitely and maintaining a good reservoir temperature. That is in my future i think.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • edited August 2014

    I have the same setup, 4" up to 5 plates + packed section, 50 lt keg boiler, 2 x 3600w elements I have 1000lt or 260 gallons, no radiator etc, submersible pump.

    It is good for at least 2 or 3 fast strips, 2 hrs each

    Can do at least 2 short spirit runs, 3 hrs each

    Can do 1 long spirit run, 5 hrs

    Can do 1 strip plus 1 spirit.

    Reckon up to 6 hours is ok, 8 perhaps, only have issues when our summer temps get above 40c or 100+F, then I need to divert hot water and replenish some colder water from the mains into the tank.

    see here

    fadge

  • I had a similar 4" setup with a 55 gallon drum for the condenser water. I quickly abandoned using it for the dephleg though because I'd have to constantly be messing with the dephleg flow to account for the rising temp of the water in the drum. As for the 55 gallon drum just for the condenser, I think it got too hot half to 2/3 of the way through the run and I had to run fresh water into it. Two drums might do it, depending how you run your still, but it will be close. Worse case, you run new water when it gets too hot and add a barrel for next time.

  • There are some nice cooling tower builds about also, as an alternative way to cool the resevoir. A big water supply is nice, but not always convenient.

  • Yea, I have seen some of those @Myles, using the bio balls or some other packing medium. I may try to go this route, as the reservoirs will be in my backyard, and I would like a design that's effective and not overly bulky/ugly.

  • Hey @brewsmith if ya have kids tell them daddy is buying a swimming pool :D cooling prob solved

  • Hello,

    I am wanting to set up a closed loop recirculation cooling system for a Baby Dragon attached to a 50 Liter (13 Gallon) milk can with one 5500W element that will be hooked up to a controller box.

    I am thinking of using some kind of inline radiator and fan set up that I have been reading about here to help cool but wondering on what size of cooling water tank I will need.

    I plan on taking suction from the bottom of the tank where it is cool and returning the warm discharge into the top of the tank.

    Think a 55 or 100 gallon plastic tank will work for this application?

    I could also fit a 135 or 160 gallon tank in the doorway if needed.

    I just want to make sure to have plenty of cooling without having to get much larger tank than needed.

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  • 55 will let you do a lot with a Baby Dragon, add that fan-radiator and you might be able to get away with a 5 gallon bucket... I use a 270 gal tote for an 8" and let it cool ambiently over a few days (I have 3)

  • We use a radiator/fan setup with a 15-gallon/57l reservoir, and it handles both condensers on a reflux still (5500W max) and a pot/stripping still condenser over a pretty strong (Cajun Classic) burner, and in most seasons in our mild climate, the reservoir water stays below 70F/21C. Trying to drive the wort chiller is iffy at best, and of course we could never get the cooling water below ambient temps.

    Although it was in the original plan, we originally ran with no mister between fan and radiator, but with the onset of warm weather I installed the one I'd built earlier. With the mister putting out way less than a liter/hour, our temperatures are much lower, looking like 8-11 degrees (F) lower in a given situation.

    That phase-change energy is almost free.

    Zymurgy Bob, a simple potstiller

    my book, Making Fine Spirits

  • yes, if in a dry climate, a swamp cooler works great... in a swamp, though... lets just say that around here that the added humidity might start a rainstorm....

  • Used to use misters on the intercooler of my turbocharged car. Works great at 100, err, I mean, 55.

  • I am thinking about going with at 55 Gallon tank as I can get that in my basement pretty easy and then hooking up something like this to help in the cooling.

    I do plan on running a recirculation bypass line also,  as to not dead head the pump.

    All ideas are welcome.

    Thanks!

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  • I don't have enough experience yet, but I was thinking if I run into issues I might try sticking the car rad into my beer fridge (think Kegerator).

  • from my ballpark figures of needing10-20 btu per watt of still power, that would only cool 200W of still power... so to run 2000w, you would need to run it 10x your still run time to pre-cool a suitable tank...

    since distillers rarely need to cool below ambient, a simple radiator and fan can do 90-100% of the work...

  • Thanks Mike! Sounds like I wont have any problems. My other alternative was to do all my distilling in the winter and then run a loop out in the snow! LOL

  • To pre cool your water it will be ok but to use once your water has heated up you may be severely taxing that unit. Make sure you find out the max water inlet temp it can handle. I think that cooler is more a toy and a fan and radiator will do much more as ClothermanDistilling

  • I have got a lot to learn.

    Back to the radiator & fan combo.

    Thanks for everyone's help & comments.

    Greatly appreciated!

    :)

  • Try freezing tap water in used water bottles. Drop in cooling tank for quick cool down. When they melt pop in freezer and reuse again. Keep a bunch on hand, works great.

  • I have 5m3 to cool a 200l boiler running 2×5kw elements. Which is overkill really. But the 2 x 2.5m3 water tanks for the garden system were there long before i decided i had to do my distilling at home. The pool that is going in is about 10m from garage where i am distilling. The issue i will have is the dog or the kids screwing with a heat exchanger coil in the pool. No more cooling problems though. My mate who is setting up a distillery in the south of chile has a 300m3 pool. No cooling issues for him.

  • for years we used to draw from our water system and returned back to the well , was a deep big bore well never had a problem keeping up , and it airiated the well water so win win . may be a nice fountain in your back yard using same principles as a industrial cooling tower would work . long as it didnt get to hot , people may wonder why your fountain is steaming lol .

    tim

  • The magic rule of thumb I have heard of is 5 x the reservoir volume but I would be tempted to go for double that, in the case of passive cooling. For active cool there are lots of cool inventions on other threads.

  • edited December 5

    @hudsonbaydistiller said: for years we used to draw from our water system and returned back to the well , was a deep big bore well never had a problem keeping up , and it airiated the well water so win win ...

    If you are commercial and in the US you will want to be careful about returning water into the ground. The Feds have pretty strict regulations concerning underground injection control (UIC). A whole nother bag of compliance shit you don't want to open if you don't have to.

    “Do I have to explain everything? Can’t you just be amazed and move on?”

  • thats a good point @Kapea its not illegal here mainly because its the same water returning to the same spot it came from ,alot of people recirculate well water in there hydronic system as a cheep form of air conditioning . but for sure look into it before you do it to make sure its a viable process .

    tim

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