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Heat Exchangers Used for Wort Cooling

The beer-making process begins with the wort, made from hot water and malted barley. The brewer boils the mixture, and the resulting liquid – wort – is what will be fermented into beer. However, before the fermentation process begins, the wort must be cooled as quickly as possible. Taking too long to cool the wort can result in a spoiled product or affect the flavor.

While homebrewing and smaller operations may be able to do this efficiently using just ice and cold water, larger commercial operations benefit from using equipment that cools wort quickly. A shell and tube heat exchanger is a highly effective and sanitary way to chill wort.

Shell and tube heat exchangers consist of multiple tubes connected in a tube bundle, which is installed inside a larger shell. Hot product enters the exchanger inside the tubes, while a cold liquid enters into the shell. As the hot and cold liquids flow through the exchanger, heat is transferred through the tubes separating the two streams, cooling the product to the desired temperature.

Shell and tube heat exchangers are versatile in their flow pattern options. Countercurrent flow is the most popular, as it offers the fastest and most efficient heat transfer. This refers to when the shellside liquid and tubeside liquid flow in opposite directions, each entering and leaving the exchanger at opposite ends.

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