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We've been playing around with ideas for crash cooling mash to pitch temperature. This is an easier challenge if you are a liquid only operation, but if you are working grain-in, standard plate heat exchangers simply won't work. They can't pass solids, and unless you invest a small fortune, they aren't entirely sanitary.
The current thought is to build a heat exchanger that is similar in configuration to a Leibig - tube within a tube, water circulating through the outside jacket, mash moving through the inside tube.
It would be relatively easy to manufacture an HX like this out of Copper - an inner tube of approximately 1-1.5", and an outer tube of approximately 2-3". Reducers would form the seal, larger Tees on the outer jacket would allow for coolant input and output.
Easy enough to use standard 8 or 10 foot lengths of tubing, as well as 180 degree U's to form the loop backs.
This is similar to the approach used in dairy ops, only their heat exchangers are all stainless, sanitary, tri-clamp. For example, here is a huge single pass unit:
There is really nothing here that is fancy fabrication, it's just a number of leibig style heat exchangers folded back on themselves.
Technically, you wouldn't necessarily need to cool the mash to pitch temperatures in a single pass, you could recirculate from the mash tun to the heat exchanger until your temp was reached.
The challenge we're facing is how to go about this so it's at least quasi sanitary. It would mean that the U-tubes at the end of the exchanger would need to be tri-clamp, such that you could open, inspect, thoroughly clean each tube section.
I'm pretty sure it's going to be cheaper to do this out of copper than out of stainless, since you could easily use standard plumbing sizes, and brazing of tubes is going to be easy enough.
My thought is to use 4 tubes, 8 to 10 feet long, with 3 180s, so that from a connection standpoint, you start and end near each other. That should provide 16 square feet of cooling surface. The jacket tees would all be connected together to form a single jacket flow. I'd weld up a simple box frame to keep the 4 tubes secured.
Any thoughts from the crew here?