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Glycol Chillers for Breweries

There are a number of glycol chillers on the market and the terminology can get confusing when trying to select the proper unit for process cooling in your brewery. This post will help you understand some of the basic terminology, but it is for general informational purposes only. We highly recommend you contact us with any questions related to brewery chillers before you specify one for process cooling in your brewery.

Types of Glycol Chillers In Breweries

There are three main types of Glycol Chillers each with their pros and cons:

    1. Packaged Chillers for Breweries: Packaged chillers for breweries are complete units that include a tank and pump. These are convenient in that all chilling equipment is contained to one brewery chiller. Additionally, packaged chillers can be installed outside to save space indoors.
    2. Modular Chillers for Breweries:Modular chillers are chillers that can be added inline to a process. Modular chillers very popular in breweries when there is a good chance of growth. As long as the pipes are sized with this in mind, modular brewery chillers can be added as needed to compensate for larger brew runs. This allows breweries to rent chillers when they are needed reducing overall capital investment. However, the modular chillers will not be as efficient as a single properly sized unit.
    3. Split Chillers for Breweries: Split chillers are ideal for breweries with limited space the heat exchanger can be located outdoors which depending on the average temperature of your location may result in higher efficiency cooling.

How to size a chiller for your brewery

The first step to sizing a brewery chiller is to figure out where in your brewery needs cooling. There are four main applications for glycol chillers in breweries: Wort Cooling, Cold Water Storage Tanks, Brite Tanks/Fermenters, and Refrigeration.  The size of your brewery chiller will be determined by the sum of each of these heat load requirements.

  • Calculate Knockdown (or Pull Down/Crashing) Load for Wort Cooling.
    • Typically the wort cooling is the most demanding of heat loads in brewery process cooling. So it’s important to consider future expansion here as well. To calculate the heat load of your process you need
      • Tank Volume
        • Take your tank volume in barrels and convert it to gallons
          • Volume in Barrels * 31 = Volume in Gallons
        • Convert gallons to pounds
          • Volume in Gallons * 8.42886 lbs/gal = Volume in Pounds
            • Note: Assumed density of 1.01 g/cm^3 at temperature 50 F
        • Calculate Total Heat Load
          • Starting Temperature – Ending Temperature = Temperature Change
            • Starting Temperature: The temperature of the wort prior to cooling.
            • Ending Temperature: The desired temperature after cooling.
          • Temperature change * Volume in Pounds = Total Heat Load
        • Calculate BTU/HR
          • Total Heat Load / Knockdown time in Hours = Required BTU/HR
            • Knockdown Time in Hours: How long you want the cooling to take.
      • Safety factor.
        • After going through this you probably realized that the cooling requirements will vary based on recipe, so we suggest you choose the most demanding of your recipes and add in a safety factor of 10-15%. To do this, take your required BTU/HR and multiply it by a factor of 1.1 or 1.15. This will account for inefficiencies in the system
        • Our chillers are variable control drive so over sizing them will not cause them to short cycle and will not shorten service life.
  • Do you use cold water storage tanks?
  • Calculate heat load for fermentation and bright tanks.
  • Are you going to use your chiller for refrigeration as well?
  • Converting from BTU/HR to tonnage
    • Chillers are typically sized based on tonnage, so we have our total heat load in BTU/HR. To convert that to tons you simply divide the Total BTU/HR by 12,000 BTU, this will give you a result of refrigeration tons. From there you can select your chiller based on tonnage.

Is your brewery growing? How to size your chiller for an expanding brewery:

We have nanobrewery chillers, microbrewery chillers, and regional craft brewery chillers. Whether it is economical for you to get a process chiller will vary based on your current brewery size and whether or not you plan for expansion.
Many people will recommend modular brewery chillers that can be added as needed, but it is also possible to oversize and use a variable control drive chiller. This will be the most energy efficient at full capacity, but can run at lower capacity without short cycling or straining the compressor. Selecting a variable drive compressor is most effective when there are clear space restrictions and intentions to expand. Regardless of your situation, the quickest way to properly size a chiller is to call our team to discuss your chiller needs.

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