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Chilled Water Closed Loop System

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We're one big step away from being physically operational - the chilled water loop. After getting back a couple bids that were well over double what we'd budgeted, we've decided to take this one on ourselves.

Right now, I've got one big question, but I'm sure there will be plenty more. The question is ... Do I need pumps on the return line to get the water back to the holding tank?

Let me explain the system to help you better answer the question:

  • The chilled water will be stored in a 3000 gallon poly tank that sits outdoors.
  • The water will be chilled by a 35 ton glycol chiller and heat exchanger
    • Water pumped from holding tank ---> into heat exhanger (with glycol loop on the other side of the heat-x) ---> then out to the distillery equipment ---> then returning back to the holding tank
  • We have 8 pieces of equipment that need chilled water:​


  • 500 Gallon Vendome Pot Still (Dephlegmator and Condenser)
    • post-5899-0-88951800-1456763551_thumb.jp
  • 22' Dehner Continuous Still (Dephlegmator and Condenser)
    • post-5899-0-87840300-1456763585_thumb.jp
  • 1000 Gallon Jacketed Mash Cooker (Steam Sparged)
    • post-5899-0-51931700-1456763621_thumb.jp
  • (5) U-Jacketed Letina Fermentation Tanks
    • post-5899-0-10457200-1456763655_thumb.jp
  • Mike Gronski is helping me with the main pump and heat exchanger.
  • I'm planning on a 3" main chilled water line. We will "drop" off of this main line to each piece of equipment.
  • Depending on the pressure of the main pump, we may add pressure reducers before each piece of equipment.
  • To keep everything nice and clean, everything needs to run overhead just like the steam pipe.
  • The return lines also need to run overhead ... otherwise I'd let gravity take care of the issue.

So ... Do I need pumps on the return line to get the water back to the holding tank? If so, any recommendations?

And I'm all ears to everyone's 2 cents on the whole system.

Big thanks in advance for any advice. I'm sure I'll have more questions as we get into this.

P.S. Don't try to drag-and-drop pictures onto a post. Your browser will simply open the picture ... in the same window/tab that you've been diligently writing your post in ... and you will have to start everything all over. :)

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As long as the pumps are correctly sized you would not need any return pumps. The piping system will be under pressure and you just need to do a pressure drop calculation and elevation gain (from holding tank liquid level to return nozzle elevation) to determine where your pump will operate on the curve (flowrate). Hope this helps.

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Agporte is correct.

I wouldn't bother doing the suggested calculation unless you enjoy the mental stimulation. You mentioned the possibility of needing pressure reducers so I am in no doubt your pump can do the job.

My only very slight concern is the pressure rating of your heat exchangers if the return water goes back overhead, I repeat...very slight.

Is that a Redboot continuous? A well designed continuous needs very little if any cooling water.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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