Which Brewery Heat Exchanger Is Right For You?

Across the United States, the craft brewery industry is experiencing a boom. As production increases, heat exchangers are increasingly in demand, as they are essential pieces of equipment in any brewery. Composed of multiple stainless steel plates mounted on support shafts, brewery heat exchangers play a key role in quickly cooling wort as it is moved from kettle to fermenter. When properly selected and used, heat exchangers preserve the beer’s taste and increase production speeds.

Why Should a Brewery Invest in a Heat Exchanger?

Wort must be cooled quickly to prevent bacteria and dimethyl sulfide (DMS) from tainting the initial brew. Brewery heat exchangers accomplish this goal by reducing cooling time to as little as 45 minutes. Proper control of heat is essential to any brewing process for the following reasons:

  • Temperature control. By cooling wort quickly, heat exchangers in breweries prevent contamination and preserve flavor.
  • Reusing heat. Brewing heat exchangers can also collect the heat and apply it to other parts of your brewing facility, such as the hot water system.
  • Growing your brewery business. Speeding the cooling process and recycling heat greatly increases production and cuts costs.

Types of Heat Exchangers Available on the Market

Selecting the right brewery heat exchanger requires knowledge of the different types available.

Plate Heat Exchanger

Several metal plates are placed in direct contact with the brewing tank, transferring heat from one fluid to another. The cooling medium and beer flow through the plates in opposite directions on separate flow paths.

Plate heat exchangers have a wide range of applications, such as:

  • Water heaters
  • Cooling tower isolation
  • Free cooling
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Heat pump isolation
  • Thermal (ice) storage systems

This translates to major benefits for the brewery, such as:

  • Energy efficiency
  • Emission reduction
  • Recovery of waste and water
  • Reduced operating costs

Shell and Tube Heat Exchanger

A series of parallel tubes send the wort and the cooling medium past each other in opposite directions. Heat exchange takes place between the tube walls. In addition to beer brewing, shell and tube heat exchangers have a vast range of possible applications in these industries:

  • Power Generation
  • HVAC
  • Marine
  • Pulp & Paper
  • Refrigeration
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Food & Beverage
  • Air Processing & Compressor Cooling

Due to their simple, flexible design, shell and tube heat exchangers are the more cost-effective option for most breweries. Other benefits include:

  • Handles extremely high pressures with minimal pressure loss
  • Tolerates high and low temperatures
  • Resistant to thermal shock
  • Easy assembly and disassembly
  • Easy repair and maintenance
  • Customizable size

Heat Exchanger Design Characteristics

To choose the best type of brewing heat exchanger for your facility, consider these design characteristics.

Flow Configuration

Flow configuration will influence the efficiency of your overall system:

  • Cocurrent flow brewery heat exchangers move fluids parallel to each other and in the same direction, which provides the highest level of thermal uniformity but less efficiency than a countercurrent system.
  • Countercurrent flow systems move fluids antiparallel to each other (opposite directions through parallel tubes), resulting in greater heat transfer efficiency between the two liquids.
  • Crossflow heat exchanger tubes are routed perpendicular to each other and are less efficient than countercurrent systems but more efficient than cocurrent systems.
  • Hybrid flow heat exchangers use any combination of the above three flow configurations.

Construction Method

The types of materials used to construct heat exchangers range from various metals to ceramic, graphite, or composite materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. There are also different build methods, such as:

  • Recuperative vs. regenerative: Recuperative heat exchangers house each liquid in its own tube, while regenerative heat exchangers use one tube to transfer cool and warm fluids at alternating times.
  • Direct vs. indirect: Recuperative heat exchangers can transfer heat either directly or indirectly. Direct contact heat exchangers do not separate fluids within the device, so heat transfers through direct contact. Indirect contact heat exchangers separate and transfer heat between fluids using thermally conductive materials, such as tubes or plates.
  • Static vs. dynamic: Regenerative heat exchangers can either be static or dynamic. Static regenerators feature materials and components that stay in place while fluids flow through them. Dynamic regenerators have components and materials that move during heat transfer.

Heat Transfer Mechanism

Heat exchangers use either a single-phase or two-phase heat transfer mechanism. Single-phase heat exchangers process fluids that remain the same state of matter throughout the heat transfer process. Two-phase heat exchangers change either one or both liquids to a gas, or vice versa.

What to Consider Before You Choose

Before investing in a brewery heat exchanger for your operation, consider these factors:

  • Cost
  • Energy consumption
  • Space consumption
  • Maintenance needs and costs
  • Scalability

Brewery Heat Exchangers From Enerquip

Since 1985, Enerquip has been an industry leader in fabricating industrial heating and cooling equipment. Our technicians are standing by to help you select the right brewery heat exchanger according to your exact needs. If you have any questions, please contact us or request a quote.