Which heat exchangers are suitable for breweries?

Which heat exchangers are suitable for breweries?

When brewing high-quality beer, it is essential to follow a strict brewing process and control the temperature carefully. As craft beer, microbreweries, and products made from all-natural ingredients gain popularity, breweries need to optimize their operations to stay competitive. Whether you are producing beer or cider, one of the key equipment pieces that can improve efficiency is the heat exchanger. Heat exchangers are necessary for heat recovery and reuse because the brewing process requires a lot of heat, and maintaining the required energy levels can be expensive. In this article, we will discuss the types of heat exchangers that breweries can use.

Why should your brewery invest in a heat exchanger?

Brewing beer is a complex process that demands precise temperature control. Heat exchangers provide a reliable way to quickly cool wort in your brewery. Not only can heat exchangers help you brew better-tasting products, but they can also enhance your production yields. Heat exchangers facilitate essential heat treatments in the brewing process, such as cooling, pasteurization, fermentation, aging, and cleaning of brewing equipment. Additionally, heat exchangers enable the reuse of heat generated during production, helping breweries reduce energy consumption and emissions. A quality heat exchange system also reduces water usage during brewing and cleaning processes.

Which heat exchangers are suitable for breweries?

There are three main types of heat exchangers that are suitable for the brewing industry:

Plate Heat Exchanger

A plate heat exchanger consists of a series of plates connected to a large frame. This type of heat exchanger is ideal for small breweries with limited space on the production floor. Plate heat exchangers offer high production efficiency. Here are some advantages of plate heat exchangers:

  • Energy efficiency: Plate heat exchangers are five times more efficient than shell and tube designs. By replacing your existing shell and tube models with compact plate heat exchangers, you can recover more heat and achieve greater energy savings. The design of the plates creates gasket spaces between them through which two fluids, one hot and one cold, alternate. This design enables highly efficient heat transfer due to the significantly larger surface area compared to shell and tube designs.
  • Space utilization: Plate heat exchangers require less floor space compared to shell and tube heat exchangers.
  • Maintenance convenience: High-quality plate heat exchangers can operate efficiently for extended periods without maintenance. The plates are easy to inspect and clean, and they can be easily removed for cleaning and repairs. The cleaning interval depends on the level of dirt or scale, as the presence of sludge or scale on the surface can reduce the thermal efficiency of the heat exchanger.
  • Capacity adjustment: Plate heat exchangers allow for easy capacity adjustments, and the plates are accessible and simple to add or remove. In contrast, shell and tube heat exchangers have fixed capacities and can only be replaced when increasing the capacity.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Plate heat exchangers are the most cost-effective option due to their high heat transfer coefficient, which ensures efficient heat transfer with a relatively small surface area. Additionally, plate heat exchangers have low maintenance costs, primarily involving gasket and plate replacements.
Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger

A shell and tube heat exchanger consists of tubes placed inside an outer shell, resembling its name. Many breweries prefer shell and tube heat exchangers because they are more affordable. Due to their simple design, these heat exchangers are better suited to operate under high temperatures and pressures. If your brewery aims to increase production, shell and tube heat exchangers are worth considering. Their cooling capabilities allow faster wort cooling, resulting in a higher number of beer batches. However, it is important to note that shell and tube heat exchangers require significant space, so make sure your facility can accommodate them.

Shell and Coil Heat Exchangers

Shell and coil heat exchangers consist of circular tubes arranged within a shell. These heat exchangers offer flexibility in design and can be easily customized to fit your brewery’s specific needs. Shell and coil heat exchangers are also compact, making them suitable for small breweries. Additionally, they have low maintenance costs, allowing your brewery to focus more on beer production and new processes. However, it is important to consider whether shell and coil heat exchangers can keep up with larger beer production when making a purchase decision. Regular beer production volume should be taken into account.


In conclusion, plate and frame heat exchangers are an excellent choice for small breweries with limited space. They offer modularity, enabling the assembly and disassembly of heat exchanger units on-site. Plate and frame heat exchangers weigh about 6 percent of comparable shell-and-tube units while occupying only about 10 percent of the floor space.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of a plate heat exchanger in a brewery?

Plate heat exchangers in breweries aid in cooling and pasteurizing wort, preparing it for fermentation. These machines transfer heat from the wort to cooled liquid by contacting shared metal plates, preventing cross-contamination. The plates have elastic gaskets and are open to the surrounding atmosphere, eliminating any possibility of fluid mixing.

Why should my brewery use a plate heat exchanger for brewing?

Plate heat exchangers maximize surface area for heat transfer, speeding up the cooling process and facilitating faster wort fermentation. With their high heat transfer efficiency, brewers can increase production. Additionally, the heat absorbed from boiling wort can be reused, reducing energy costs.

Is a plate heat exchanger suitable for beer pasteurization?

Plate heat exchangers are primarily used to remove heat from the wort, not to add heat during pasteurization. Moreover, these heat exchangers are highly hygienic, allowing the water that has absorbed heat from the previous batch of wort to be used for a new mash conversion, enabling earlier boiling.

What if I need to scale up my heat exchanger for future brewing?

Plate heat exchangers are modular, meaning you can add more plates as you scale up and increase production. We can also provide upgraded plate packs and new gaskets, ensuring your brewing operation benefits from state-of-the-art heat transfer technology.

If you plan to open or expand a brewery and require turnkey solutions and customizations, feel free to contact us. Our engineers will design and manufacture brewery equipment tailored to your brewing process. We offer complete turnkey solutions and customized options for expanding breweries.

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