As the craft beer market continues to grow, there is an increasing demand for premium beer among consumers. The refrigeration system in beer equipment plays a crucial role in cooling down the mashed wort and regulating fermentation temperatures. By optimizing the design of the refrigeration system, energy consumption during equipment operation can be reduced. In this article, an engineer from ACE Craft will provide a brief introduction to the cooling methods used in craft beer equipment.
Cooling Method for Craft Beer Equipment
During the fermentation process, beer generates a significant amount of heat. To maintain a constant temperature in the fermentation tank, it needs to be cooled down. Large breweries commonly use ammonia in coils, utilizing the heat absorption principle of ammonia’s liquid-to-gas phase change. However, due to space constraints in small craft beer equipment, cooling is achieved using ethylene glycol or alcohol solutions.
Ice Water Tank
In the industry, the ice water storage tank is often referred to as the “ice water tank.” It stores ice water at approximately -5°C and is usually filled with a 25% or 33% alcohol solution. The concentration of ethylene glycol solution varies depending on the latitude, with significant differences between Northeast China and North China. Insulation layers of 75-80mm are common for indoor placement, while outdoor tanks require a polyurethane insulation layer of 150-200mm to minimize heat exchange and cooling capacity loss. The ice water tank is a thermal insulation container designed with an interface for self-circulating cooling, making it the most commonly used method.
The equipped chiller, though large in volume, is easy to install and does not require refrigeration expertise. It only requires connecting the chiller’s ice water circulation pipeline to the ice water tank. There are two types of chillers: air-cooled and water-cooled. When the temperature is not excessively high, the air-cooled method is preferred due to its low failure rate and adaptability.
In areas with high temperatures above 0°C in winter, a water-cooled unit may be chosen, but it requires a water drying tower for cooling circulating water. Although this method is highly efficient, its failure rate is higher compared to the air-cooled unit. Consequently, it is advisable to choose water-cooled units only when necessary. The air-cooled chiller’s disadvantage lies in its size and noise level. Typically, it is placed outside street beerhouses’ entrances, but urban management often relocates them indoors due to environmental concerns.
Copper Ice Water Pitcher
The second type of refrigerant container used in craft beer equipment is based on a copper tube system connected to the ice water tank. This system utilizes Freon, which is passed through copper tubes and cools down via heat absorption from the liquid phase to the gas phase. This method resembles mounting an outdoor air conditioner unit on an external wall. It requires connecting the ice water tank to the refrigerant container using two thick copper pipes and one thin copper pipe.
This method simplifies pipeline connections compared to the first type, but it requires more professional expertise. The refrigeration system must undergo evacuation, fluorine filling, and debugging.
One advantage of this method is the thick layer of ice formed on the copper pipes, which increases cooling capacity. However, the cost savings compared to the first method are not significant, and stability is lower.
Ice Water Tank – Refrigerator
The third method involves incorporating a small ice water tank within the refrigeration unit to serve as a buffer, eliminating the need for a large ice water tank. This method is commonly used in the United States. The ice water lowers the temperature of the cold water tank and the fermentation tank while the refrigerator continues to operate without interruption. Due to the limited buffer volume, the refrigerator starts whenever cooling is required.
This method saves space by eliminating the need for a separate ice water tank.
However, the refrigerator’s cooling capacity needs to be increased due to the absence of a large ice water tank buffer, resulting in a larger-sized refrigerator. The main drawback is that the fermenter cannot be cooled continuously, leading to frequent refrigerator starts and a potential reduction in its lifespan.
Routine Maintenance of Ice Water Tanks
To monitor the refrigerant volume in the ice water tank, a liquid level pipe is installed with marked indicators. Over time, if the liquid level drops, it is necessary to add 95% alcohol to maintain the desired concentration and cooling effect. Additionally, the pipeline connecting the ice water tank and the ice water pump should be tightly sealed to prevent leakage.
When designing a beer factory, the first step is to determine the brewing method and the desired beer quality, followed by determining the brewing and fermentation cycles accordingly. Equipment design for beer production is then carried out based on these specific requirements. If you are planning to open a brewery, feel free to contact us. Our team of engineers will provide you with a list of craft brewery equipment and associated prices. We also offer professional turnkey brewery solutions. We look forward to working with you!
Get a turnkey solution for brewery equipment If you plan to open or expand the brewery, you can directly contact us. Our engineers will design and manufacture brewery equipment according to your brewing process. We also provide a complete turnkey solution and customized solutions for brewery expansion.