Case study: benefit of thermal fluid system is no small beer
30 Aug 2016
A micro-brewery in Buckinghamshire is one of only a handful of UK companies to have updated its system with a thermal fluid installation.
Rebellion Beer Company is a medium-sized craft brewery that uses traditional brewing methods and natural ingredients to produce 4 million pints of beer from its Chiltern Hills-based brewery every year.
As part of a three-stage development plan for the business, Rebellion’s Mark Gloyens decided to upgrade some of the company’s original brewing equipment.
With the steam boiler reaching the end of its operational life, he began researching new options for heat transfer equipment.
Steam is a traditional source of indirect heat for brewing and distilling processes but the regulations and additional investment required for running a pressure-based system are often too high for use in micro brewing.
So when Rebellion Beer Company was looking to replace its ageing steam boiler system, it turned to two of the UK’s major thermal fluid specialists for help.
“This was the first time we had approached thermal fluid system specialists for a project of this sort and, having met with two of the UK’s main suppliers to discuss the project, we were impressed with Fulton’s enthusiasm and interest in getting involved with what turns out to be one of only a handful of brewery-based thermal fluid heat transfer projects in the UK,” says Gloyens.
To reap potential energy savings, he says that Fulton’s new FT-C 240 vertical coil thermal system should save money on the company’s energy bills because it allows them to easily turn the heater on and off as required, with minimal heat-up time.
In contrast, the old steam-based system needed to be turned on at the beginning of the day and left running regardless of the demand for steam, he says.
For Rebellion, the system was also much simpler than a steam solution and less expensive to set-up and maintain
Because thermal fluid heaters are non-pressurised systems, hence not subject to the costs of running a system under the pressure regulations, it also provided value for money.
Thermal fluid heaters use specialist oils as heat carriers and can operate at atmospheric pressures up to 300°C. But to gain a similar operating temperature from traditional water or steam-based systems would require a pressure of 85 bar.
For Rebellion, the system was also much simpler than a steam solution and less expensive to set-up and maintain.
The thermal fluid heat transfer solution is now used throughout Rebellion’s brewing process. From the brewhouse, where liquor (water) is heated to 66°C for the mashing-in process and wort is boiled with hops for 90 minutes; to heating the brewhouse and fermentation tank CIP system.
It is also more compact than the original steam-based system, which has freed up much needed space for other process equipment.
This meant it could be skid-mounted, accommodating ancillary equipment such as a circulating pump, expansion tank and related pipework.