2019 Brewery Updates pt 2: Initial Implementation (and Failure)

I’ve made some progress with the design changes I detailed in post 1 of this series. I was able to implement the design, but in testing, it failed to give me the result I was hoping for. It has informed a revised design that I hold hope for working, however. This post won’t make any sense without reading the one linked above first.

When the loop was open to a significant degree (controlled by a butterfly valve), excessive pressure is not built within the loop – pressure sufficient to push liquid up to the mash tun return anyways. A check valve may be required on the mash tun output to prevent this, as with this design there is nothing stopping that loop pressure from being removed with just a bit of back flow. I don’t know enough about check valve internals and mechanisms to know whether it would be advisable to put one in this location. I do know that it would be a bit of an expense for me to get one to try it. My instinct is that a check valve isn’t a great idea as the involved pressures are pretty low and likely insufficient to trigger the most check valve mechanisms (whether closing a normally open check valve, or vice versa), and this may not even be the main issue.

The second issue, what I think is a larger issue, is that some kind of proportional valve, rather than a butterfly valve is necessary to control the loop flow rate. I think it’s possible that with sufficient throttling at this point that the idea works without a check valve on the mash tun outlet. In my initial testing, I did not have the granularity to test this using the butterfly valve. You would think this would be as easy as swapping one valve out – and it is, except the valve dimensions are different from one another, requiring a new plumbing layout. So, I’m in the process of testing a revise design with the butterfly valve swapped for a ball valve. Due to some decreased confidence in this idea, I am no longer determined to devise an entirely hard piped layout to test the second design revision. If I figure something out, great. Ironically, as my revised plumbing is almost identical to what I started with – I could’ve easily tested this without work on a new brewstand.

All in all, this has been a good lesson for me – test new ideas as rudimentary as possible and build from there. My next post will be testing the second design revision, hopefully with different results!

Updated process diagram, with addition of check valve and proportional valve (highlighted in yellow). Revision 1 diagram can be found on the previous blog entry.

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