DistillateurQc

Boiler required BTU / Chiller HP

17 posts in this topic

Hi everyone,

We are setting up a distillery and we need some advice about boiler/chiller.

We talked with many still manufacturers and they have different instructions about the required boiler for our stills. We are on a tight budget, so we would like to have the community advice.

Our setup will be as follow:

One 1200 liters mash tun

Two 1200 liters fermenters

One 600 liters pot still with vodka column.

We will run only one equipment at the time. Mash tun, or still, to reduce the required power required for our steam boiler.

A manufacturer tells us we need 480 000 btu/h output. Another one says 300 000 btu/h output is fine. Another one talked about 150 000 btu/h output.

Can someone please advice as the cost is quite changing from a 480 000 btu to a 150 000 btu. As I mentioned before, we are on a tight budget.

 

About the chiller, a manufacturer told us we will need a 2500 liters glycol tank! Another one is talking about a 7.5HP glycol chiller.

Some says we should use cold water.

Could we do that? Our building as a well, no city water, so we are unsure of the quantity of available water.

What is the best to cool down our mash, maintain our fermenters at the required temperature, and to use with our still condenser? What is the required power?

Thanks to all!

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Once you factor in plumbing and labor, total installed cost, there is minimal price difference between these size steam boilers.

I think installing a 150k boiler is throwing money away.  All equipment is different, but I think it's undersized for your mash tun.  You have no option for upgrading equipment sizes.

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Generally speaking, you need about 1,000 BTU/hr / US gallon on the output side of the boiler to heat it up in one hour. That makes a number of assumptions but it's reasonable for budgeting purposes.

If you're on a tight budget, look for an old new-stock residential boiler. But beware, in terms of the entire heating plant the boiler will be the a small fraction of the total. You'll need feed tanks, condensate return, steam trap, lots of piping, water softener, etc, etc, etc.

If you have well water I'd seriously consider using that for cooling.

All that being said, if you're on that tight of a budget I'd take a long hard look at your business plan and make damn sure you want to get into this business.

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11 hours ago, indyspirits said:

If you're on a tight budget, look for an old new-stock residential boiler. But beware, in terms of the entire heating plant the boiler will be the a small fraction of the total. You'll need feed tanks, condensate return, steam trap, lots of piping, water softener, etc, etc, etc.

This is very true.

13 hours ago, DistillateurQc said:

We will run only one equipment at the time. Mash tun, or still, to reduce the required power required for our steam boiler.

Keep in mind the savings on skimping on boiler size will be lost immediately when you take into account the cost of additional labor required to only mash or distill at one time. Assuming you are running the still once per shift, with your equipment you are looking at 2 days of cooking to fill both fermentors and 4 days of distilling to empty them. This is a 6 day work week, instead of a 4 day, which could have been done if your boiler was bigger.  So let's say your labor is only $100 a day, you are talking about spending $200 extra a week because you have a smaller boiler, which means if you saved $3000 on the smaller boiler your break even is 15 weeks.

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The difference between a 200k btu and a 400k btu boiler is probably 2 or 3 thousand on a 5 digit total installed cost.  Heck, the condensate gear (tanks, traps, pumps, and plumbing) will be as expensive as the boiler, likely the labor and steam trim material on the boiler will be as expensive as the boiler, if not more.  You are looking at varying to cost of a small part of the steam system to save some money.  Look elsewhere.

Undersizing a steam system is a travesty, it's like burning a pile of money to heat your tanks.  I think 350-400k is a more realistic sizing - especially given your mash tun is 2x the still capacity.  If you are doing cereal mashes from a cold startup, you don't want to be waiting 3 hours to get to temp.

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3 hours ago, Tom Lenerz said:

This is very true.

Keep in mind the savings on skimping on boiler size will be lost immediately when you take into account the cost of additional labor required to only mash or distill at one time. Assuming you are running the still once per shift, with your equipment you are looking at 2 days of cooking to fill both fermentors and 4 days of distilling to empty them. This is a 6 day work week, instead of a 4 day, which could have been done if your boiler was bigger.  So let's say your labor is only $100 a day, you are talking about spending $200 extra a week because you have a smaller boiler, which means if you saved $3000 on the smaller boiler your break even is 15 weeks.

If you stagger your start times you should be able to mash and distill on the same day with a boiler that is not large enough to fire both items at once.  During the hour our still is coming up to a boil we typically clean and sanitize the mash tun, and then start filling it with the mash water.  Normally the still is boiling by the time we are ready to start heating the mash water.  Once the still is up to a boil it does not need much steam to simply maintain that boil, allowing you to send most of the output to the mash tun.

That said, I think we have a 350,000 BTU boiler for almost the exact setup DistillateurQc is describing and would not want it to be any smaller!

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We are running a 15.6hp output boiler - 522k btu for 2000l mash and 1000l distill. This is in line with Hedgebird's numbers.  I would also agree that I wouldn't go any smaller, in fact, 20hp would be nice.

 

 

 

 

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You need a 2400 L reservoir for the mash cooling, unless you can use that much well water and it's in great shape (treatment).

Most use a chiller with either treated water (process water treatment) or glycol mix (if your chiller is outdoors).

I would say a 5 HP chiller would do it for the mash cooling with the reservoir with either a second process pump or the chiller pump diverting some of the chilled water back to the reservoir since your mash tun won't be able to accept all the flow from the chiller pump.

The still should be ok as well with that size chiller. I take it you're up in Canada.  I do have a couple 3 HP reconditioned chillers available- what voltage are you running the equipment?

Mike Gronski

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1 hour ago, HedgeBird said:

If you stagger your start times you should be able to mash and distill on the same day with a boiler that is not large enough to fire both items at once.  During the hour our still is coming up to a boil we typically clean and sanitize the mash tun, and then start filling it with the mash water.  Normally the still is boiling by the time we are ready to start heating the mash water.  Once the still is up to a boil it does not need much steam to simply maintain that boil, allowing you to send most of the output to the mash tun.

That said, I think we have a 350,000 BTU boiler for almost the exact setup DistillateurQc is describing and would not want it to be any smaller!

To be honest, I forgot about staggered starts, and yes the situation you described obviously works. We do stagger some of our equipment, in some situations, but we often run one of our stills twice a day, and cook twice a day, twice a week so things often overlap for us here. 

It is still worth mentioning though their could be increased labor if you run into standing around because of waiting for one item to finish while starting the other.

It is also worth mentioning not having extra capacity for more stills or equipment and having to replace the whole thing in the future if/when the time to expand comes. It would be one thing if you are sizing a boiler just right if the stills are quite large, however 600 liters is not a large still and if things go well it is likely a significantly larger one may be needed.

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16 hours ago, DistillateurQc said:

Thank you! What power do I need for our mash tun? 1200 liters.

Good luck with the distillery! I recently went through all this, and it can become a headache if you ask around and get 15 different solutions. The true answer to your heat load (if you are only using one component at a time) is to take the biggest load and run a heat calculation on it. If you're unsure how to do this a few minutes of googling around and I guarantee you'll find some help. 

I created a bunch of spreadsheets for my chiller/boiler calcs so I through the numbers in there for you. I'm not sure of your process temperatures but I went to the end of both limits to ensure that you were covered. Your heat load, taking into account that your mash tun will not be 100% efficient, is ~275k BTU (to heat the mash tun in 90 minutes), which requires a boiler that can handle ~183k BTU/hr, minimum. 

To get to Boiler HP you divide by 33.471.30, which gives you a 5.5 BHP. Taking into account that a standard firetube steam boiler has an efficiency of 80% you require around 7 BHP and at minimum I would purchase a 10 BHP. The difference in price from 10 - 20 BHP, as the guys here have stated, is minimal... so think your decision making process through before going with a certain boiler.

Hope this helps!

John

 

 

heat load.png

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35 minutes ago, Tom Lenerz said:

To be honest, I forgot about staggered starts, and yes the situation you described obviously works. We do stagger some of our equipment, in some situations, but we often run one of our stills twice a day, and cook twice a day, twice a week so things often overlap for us here. 

It is still worth mentioning though their could be increased labor if you run into standing around because of waiting for one item to finish while starting the other.

It is also worth mentioning not having extra capacity for more stills or equipment and having to replace the whole thing in the future if/when the time to expand comes. It would be one thing if you are sizing a boiler just right if the stills are quite large, however 600 liters is not a large still and if things go well it is likely a significantly larger one may be needed.

All great points!  If your going to oversize any piece of equipment for future growth it should probably be the boiler!  I probably would have gone larger but the unit I got pretty much maxed out the gas capacity at my building and anything bigger would have required a separate boiler room.  An easy answer to the original question might be "the largest you can get without having to build a dedicated boiler room!"

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18 minutes ago, HedgeBird said:

All great points!  If your going to oversize any piece of equipment for future growth it should probably be the boiler!  I probably would have gone larger but the unit I got pretty much maxed out the gas capacity at my building and anything bigger would have required a separate boiler room.  An easy answer to the original question might be "the largest you can get without having to build a dedicated boiler room!"

Not really true. The biggest things to keep in mind are BHP, installation cost (full install, skidded system, containerized system, boiler room reqs), and the boiler's turndown ratio and burner modulation. If you get a boiler that is 50 BHP and has a 2:1 turndown ratio it can not handle loads under 25 BHP without becoming very inefficient. It will cycle on and off all the time. Look for a 4 or 5:1 turndown ratio if possible, and a fully modulating firing rate. Modulating firing rate gives it the ability to modulate from the minimum BHP to the maximum BHP as required. If you get a Low-High-Low boiler it can only hit those firing rates. If you got a 50 BHP with a 5:1 turndown ratio fully modulating firing rate you would be able to go from 10 BHP load to 50 BHP and anywhere in between there while running efficiently.

Confused yet or does that make sense?

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5 hours ago, MG Thermal Consulting said:

You need a 2400 L reservoir for the mash cooling, unless you can use that much well water and it's in great shape (treatment).

Most use a chiller with either treated water (process water treatment) or glycol mix (if your chiller is outdoors).

I would say a 5 HP chiller would do it for the mash cooling with the reservoir with either a second process pump or the chiller pump diverting some of the chilled water back to the reservoir since your mash tun won't be able to accept all the flow from the chiller pump.

The still should be ok as well with that size chiller. I take it you're up in Canada.  I do have a couple 3 HP reconditioned chillers available- what voltage are you running the equipment?

Mike Gronski

Hi Mike,

 

we have 120V/240V 60 hertz mono phase electricity in our building. 3HP is enough? We can put the chiller outdoor.

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240/1/60 can be built on new units or reconditioned to units where the compressor needs to be replaced.

Right now I have no units I can recondition over to 230/1/60, sorry.

I was thinking you could purchase two of the 3 HP chillers.

It would be cheaper to buy one 5 HP 240/1/60 new at this point.

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