Monday, May 17, 2010

Wort Pump in a Toolbox #4 – Connections

The last post in our series on building a wort pump featured how to place the pump into the toolbox.  This next post describes the connections used to attach the pump to the kettle and whirlpool chiller.  The main purpose of the pump during the brew day is in chilling and moving the wort from the kettle to the fermenter.  A future post will focus on the specific pump uses during the brew day, but rest assured, it is necessary to connect the pump to different items during the session.

There are several important factors to be considered when planning connections for your wort pump:
  • The pump connectors should be easy to change.
  • The hoses must be able to withstand boiling wort temperatures.
  • The hoses should be semi-transparent, so it is easy to see if they are full.
  • The connections must assist the pump become immersed in wort before it is turned on, as it does not self-prime.
  • The hoses and connections should enable easy cleaning.
  • The pump should effectively assist in the quick cooling of wort.
After considering these factors, I elected to use brass quick disconnects (QD) attached to high-temperature silicone hoses.  The QDs allow a permanent male connection to attach to the actual equipment (kettle ball valve, pump in and output, etc.), while the open female end attaches to the hose.  This allows the hose to be open for air drying after cleaning.  The silicone hoses are semi-transparent, so it is easy to see if they are full.  The hoses are also flexible, which allows the user to squeeze and shake them to knock air bubbles out of the line, which helps maintain prime.

The connections I use for the pump, in order of flow, include:

  • QD to hose out of kettle.
  • Hose to QD to in port of pump.
  • QD to hose out of pump ball valve that can throttle the pump’s flow.
  • Hose to QD that connects to the whirlpool chiller.
  • Long hose that connects to pump disconnect that runs to fermenter.

The pump attaches to a “J” shaped copper tube attached to my immersion chiller.  This design is based on the popular Jamil Zainacheff whirlpool chiller, which is now featured through MoreBeer.  The copper return tube directs the flow along the outside of the pot, which creates a whirlpool action.  This constantly moves wort by the cooling coils, which greatly enhances cooling, as well as funneling hops and break material to the center of the pot.

Selecting appropriate connections are very important to proper use of a wort pump.  It is important to remember that the pump will be moving boiling liquids around on brew day, liquids that have the potential to do serious injury if not managed properly.  Along this thought, the final post in the series will cover the actual use of the pump during a brew day.  As a point of reference, the other posts in this series include:



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