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Peltier Chilling to control fermentation temps

post #1 of 5
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Hello folks, I know this is straying aways from the normal CPU cooling discussion, but I hope you can lend your expertise nonetheless.

I've started homebrewing as of a few months ago (lovely hobby, btw) and one of the aspects I'd like to focus on is controlling my fermentation temperatures.

Currently my beer is fermenting in 6-gallon plastic jugs that are submerged in a larger bucket of water that I keep cool with occasional infusions of polar paks and ice.

Naturally, this is not an accurate process, and it relies on me to remember to add something to chill the water every few hours.

I'd like to create a system wherein a water reservoir is chiller to a determined temperature for recirculation in these buckets.

Ale yeast does not need to ferment very cold, usually 65F which would be, at most 20F below ambient, additionally, unlike what we're used to seeing here, there's no CPU to chill, the only active heat sources would be the pump, the fermenting yeast (by no means very hot), and just the ambient air temperature.

My idea was to have one or more peltiers running off a PSU with a traditional metal heatsinks on both sides (fan on the hot side, cold heatsink submerged directly in the path of water flow).

A thermostat would power a relay to the peltiers and the heatsink fans to keep the water at a set temperature, while the pump would run out of the res and into the buckets runs continually.

As far as stats, I'd be chilling 10 gallons of beer, using between 5-10 gallons of chilled water. This brings the combined mass to somewhere around 60-75kg.

The questions:

How much cooling power will be needed to cool this much mass to 20F below ambient?

Is this even feasible?

If it is, what peltier(s) would I need? Is using metal heatsinks sufficient, our would some sort of water block be necessary? What's the best way to keep everything insulated/leakproof if I can indeed just submerge a chilled metal heatsink directly into the reservoir?

Any idiotically obvious stuff that I'm missing? I'm by no means an expert on TECs, but I'll become one if you think this isn't a terrible terrible idea.
post #2 of 5
Sounds like a fun hobby. You'd be much better served using a slushbox made from a window a/c unit. The only thing I'm not sure on is the temp control. You can just remove the thermistor from the evap fins in the front and stick it in the chilled water, but no a/c unit is going to have temp control that sets it under 62* F. I'm sure others will be able to help you further in the phase change section though. Pelts will be far too inefficient for that much cooling though.
The Grey Box
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The Grey Box
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post #3 of 5
I tend to agree that is alot of volume to chill with pelts unless very well insulated. Being that you are brewing you cant completely seal it off since you need to vent CO2. Phase cooling would probably be a better solution. I would do this, beer is in the tub of standing water, run a long loop of copper tube inside of said jug for cooling loop. using a chiller setup circulate cold fluid through standing water and use a thermal switch(digital thermostat, arduino, ect, ect) to switch the chiller and circulation pump. If you set it at 65 it would kick on run until the thermal switch shut it down and then wait until the temps came back up again to turn on.
post #4 of 5
all you need is either a labratory temperature controller (will need a big compressor if you are chilling/temp controlling 6 gallons) and pump. If you get one of these... you might have to mod the reservoir because i don't think they hold 6 gallons.

Another thought is go to your local aquarium shop and buy a water chiller from them... should be able to handle it just fine.

I think using peltier for such a project might be to complicated and cumbersome as opposed to a simpler solution. Cooling 6gallons to -6.6C is going to take alot of electricity. (it'll take alot no matter which solution you choose, but chillers can be much more power efficient)

EDIT: what will be the viscosity of the fluid?
Edited by badatgames18 - 8/25/11 at 12:07am
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post #5 of 5
My varsity uses modified fridges with a temperature controller for our microbrewery. Works extremely well.
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