Hooking up your heat exchanger/wort chiller is not a difficult task, but like anything in a brewery, it needs some planning. Today we want to give you a few hints to make sure you’re getting as much as you can out of your heat exchanger.
Hook it up in counterflow
Having your heat exchanger running in counterflow is crucial to making sure it works at peak efficiency - you want the coolest water cooling the coolest wort. As the wort runs through the heat exchanger, the water flowing around the plates gets increasingly cooler - all the way down to the original water temperature. In theory, this would allow a chiller to cool wort to the temperature of the water being used (but this would be an over sized heat exchanger).
Parallel vs Counterflow heat transfer
The problem if you hook it up backwards is that the hot wort heats up the cool water right away and then about halfway through the heat exchanger they are the same temperature. (see the graphs above) So remember this means pumping your cold liquor in from one side and your hot wort from another.
Food grade all the way
Using cheap non-sanitary hoses for your cold liquor/city water can seem like a great way to save costs - but it will cost you more in the long run. When you pass cold water through the heat exchanger to cool wort, you don’t just get nicely chilled wort coming out one side, you also get piping hot water out the other. This water can reach temperatures of 155°f (~70°c) or more, depending on your brew. If you're using food grade hosing and components with your heat exchanger then this hot water ready for your next boil, which will save you water costs, gas costs (from heating) and probably most importantly: it will save you time on your next brew. So make sure you use food grade hoses, that way the water is still potable and can go straight into your HL tank or mash tun.
Keep in easy placement for CIP.
How often you need to clean your heat exchanger will depend on your brew, but keep in mind that you’re going to want it to be accessible - so you can check the plates now and then - and in reach of your CIP system, for more regular cleanses. The worst scenario you can be in is realizing that your lauter screen has broken and filled your heat exchanger with trub, and it’s trapped under a work bench or access platform.
Keep these three things in mind when setting up your heat exchanger, and you should be set to make sure that your knockout is as quick and efficient as it can be.
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