The four pumping ingredients for successful brewing
17 Jun 2021
While the challenges of brewing are legion, SEEPEX’s Peter McGarian provides a rundown of the four most important pumping-related issues and advice on how to deal with these...
The many challenges faced throughout the brewing or distilling process can be divided into three major areas: raw materials handling, production and waste handling. In each, accurate control of product flow is essential to ensure the final product quality is consistently high. Pumps are therefore integral to brewing and distilling operations. Here, we demonstrate how switching to a progressive cavity (PC) pump can deliver efficiency, productivity and energy gains to help brewers and distillers thrive.
Grist mixing and transfer
In newer or smaller breweries, the grist case often sits below the mash tun, with a conveyor system transferring the grist to the masher. This involves high incremental costs and can add complexity to the conveying system, leading to mixing problems.
An alternative to conveyor systems are PC pumps in Seepex’s BT range. These offer installation and mashing-in flexibility, allowing the grist to be mixed with hot water and then pumped into the mash tun. Comprising a feed hopper and an auger feed screw, the pitch and diameter of the auger can be adjusted for optimal product feed, ensuring a homogenous mix and a stable yield.
Peristaltic pumps are sometimes used at the fermentation stage, but their pulsating action can have a negative effect on the quality of the shear-sensitive yeast.
By contrast, Seepex’s BCF pump range offers more gentle and hygienic handling, better preserving the yeast quality for fermentation. This is because PC pumps move the product through the pump in a series of cavities, preventing slip from the discharge back through the pump. Slip creates shear, so compared to other pump designs which have clearances between the lobes, screws or gears, PC pumps have a very low shear action.
Flavour and colour dosing
Positive displacement pumps are sometimes used but their pulsating action means that once they have dispensed a product, there is a pause before they can dispense again. This results in a gap in the process, which can cause uneven distribution of ingredients.
Conversely, Seepex’s PC dosing pumps (D range) are virtually pulsation-free. Their ability to meter very low flow rates means that colours, flavours and portions are all consistent, and they can also accurately meter a wide range of product consistencies.
Removing spent grains, draff and hops
The methods of removing spent grain or draff vary according to the size of the brewery. Small breweries favour manual removal, whilst larger breweries or distilleries tend to use compressed air units (pneumatic expeller units). However, brewers and distillers can significantly reduce their costs by pumping these residual materials instead. Open hopper PC pumps with auger feed systems can transport the spent grain or draff within a closed pipe system over hundreds of metres.
Seepex’s Smart Air Injection (SAI) technology is also ideal for this application. SAI can efficiently convey 15-40% dry solids spent grains, draff and hops in plugs of 20-30m length, over distances of up to several hundred metres using controlled air pulses. SAI combines progressive cavity pumping with pneumatic dense-phase conveying to increase process efficiency and productivity, as well as reducing energy consumption.
In conclusion, by moving away from traditional and inefficient product handling methods towards innovative PC pump solutions, brewers and distillers can maintain their product quality, reduce their energy consumption and increase their production capacity.