Author Topic: Underground wort piping  (Read 4125 times)

Offline phillamb168

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Underground wort piping
« on: November 30, 2011, 07:13:58 AM »
I feel like sometimes I post the craziest topics.

For the microbrewery I'm building, it's going to be in a shed in a corner of the yard - regs say it has to be a separate building - and that's pretty far from the basement where I'll be doing the conditioning. It would certainly be easier if, instead of putting fermenters on dollys and wheeling them down to the basement, I could just run a big tube underground and into the basement. What potential issues would I face here? Obviously I'd flush the piping after every brew.

Another potential would be to forego a wort chiller and have the pipe running from the brewery to basement BE the chiller. I'm thinking about this in one of two ways:

First, dig deep enough that I get cold(er) earth, and the wort cools by virtue of heat disippation into the surrounding earth by direct contact of pipe to ground

Second, make a giant counterflow chiller, running water from the basement into the shed via the larger diameter pipe, and running the wort into the basement in the opposite direction. Collected water from chilling could be used for garden water, cleaning, etc.

The final follow-up to this would be, according to code, what distance would I need between a water line and an electrical line, running parallel underground? Elec will be GFI.
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Offline bo

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #1 on: November 30, 2011, 07:17:44 AM »
You won't get enough cooling from the ground to matter especially if you used stainless, which is what I'd use and should be required.

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2011, 07:56:31 AM »
I also don't think your first option will work. The wort would heat the earth immediately surrounding the pipe and without any convection (it is earth after all) cooling would quickly stop.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2011, 08:05:06 AM »
What about pumping it in general, post-cooling?
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2011, 08:34:47 AM »
Does it freeze where you are?

Here in Chicago, you typically need to be 3 feet below grade to get under the frost line.  If you're not deep enough, the freeze/thaw could heave the ground and break whatever pipe you put in.

Could you put in a larger diameter PVC pipe and run your liquid lines through that?  This would give some level of protection to the smaller lines, and allow you to pull new ones in the future if you ever needed to.

As far as distance between electrical and water, I have no idea.  Their typically buried at different depths in the streets and alleys, but I don't know how far apart.  Nor do I have any idea of codes where you're at...

Good luck.  You're plans are always ambitious.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2011, 08:39:02 AM »
Does it freeze where you are?

Here in Chicago, you typically need to be 3 feet below grade to get under the frost line.  If you're not deep enough, the freeze/thaw could heave the ground and break whatever pipe you put in.

Could you put in a larger diameter PVC pipe and run your liquid lines through that?  This would give some level of protection to the smaller lines, and allow you to pull new ones in the future if you ever needed to.

As far as distance between electrical and water, I have no idea.  Their typically buried at different depths in the streets and alleys, but I don't know how far apart.  Nor do I have any idea of codes where you're at...

Good luck.  You're plans are always ambitious.

"May your plans always be ambitious" sounds like an ancient Chinese curse, lol.

Thanks though - PVC sounds like a good solution. It does freeze here, but not nearly as bad as Chicago winters. I remember our first hard winter night in Chicago and showing my wife the trick of tossing water in the air and it freezing before it hit the ground. Doesn't happen here that's for sure.
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Offline rjharper

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2011, 08:53:14 AM »
Agree with previous posts that heat dissipation through the ground probably wouldn't be fast enough, nor the ground cold enough.

I would also consider line restriction and wort loss.  Are you running 10' or 100'?  Uphill or downhill? If you run too narrow a pipe you'll come up against flow restriction.  But run too wide a pipe and you'll lose a lot of wort in the pipe once your pump runs dry, unless you can rely on downhill siphon.  For example, the dead volume in 50' of 1" pipe is just shy of 2 gallons.

As much as I love the ambition, and the coolness, it's probably cheaper, easier and more flexible to put fermenters on a dolly.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2011, 09:35:04 AM »
@RJ NB: this is for 1- to 2-barrel batches, hence my desire to avoid dollys at all costs (the basement is only accessible by steep stairs  :o )

I'll be making sure to keep the pipe at a downward grade, and will be using this pump: http://morebeer.com/view_product/12010//March_Nano_Brewery_Pump_-_Stainless_230V - will flow restriction still be an issue in this case? I'm thinking 3/4" copper, although stainless would be much better, although of course it would be MUCH more expensive.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2011, 09:39:09 AM »
@RJ NB: this is for 1- to 2-barrel batches, hence my desire to avoid dollys at all costs (the basement is only accessible by steep stairs  :o )

I'll be making sure to keep the pipe at a downward grade, and will be using this pump: http://morebeer.com/view_product/12010//March_Nano_Brewery_Pump_-_Stainless_230V - will flow restriction still be an issue in this case? I'm thinking 3/4" copper, although stainless would be much better, although of course it would be MUCH more expensive.

I wouild think that if you go with the PVC conduit idea the copper will be just fine as it won't need to resist the moisture and high/low Ph of the soil. I think it's a cool idea as long as you can work out a sure fire way to sanitize.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #9 on: November 30, 2011, 09:43:53 AM »
"May your plans always be ambitious" sounds like an ancient Chinese curse, lol.

You could always just dig a tunnel and put in a lift to move the barrels up and down...

Sorry.  Not helpful, but I couldn't resist.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2011, 09:55:20 AM »
"May your plans always be ambitious" sounds like an ancient Chinese curse, lol.

You could always just dig a tunnel and put in a lift to move the barrels up and down...

Sorry.  Not helpful, but I couldn't resist.

Nah, I live near a swamp, water table is a problem. The question is, does this tell you that I have already considered an elevator as an option? I'll let you decide that.  ;D
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Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2011, 09:57:08 AM »
"May your plans always be ambitious" sounds like an ancient Chinese curse, lol.

You could always just dig a tunnel and put in a lift to move the barrels up and down...

Sorry.  Not helpful, but I couldn't resist.

I almost posted the same kind of thing but decided against it.  My wife and I always joke the "mythical house" on the "myhtical acreage" and my "mythical brewery".  I decided a long time ago that all buildings would be connected to the house by a tunnel system.  Never having to go outside in Iowa Winters and late Summer months is very appealing.  8^)

As far as the original question goes, excavation can be really expensive so a long tunnel might be cost prohibitive.

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2011, 10:00:48 AM »
The way to deal with the water table is to drive sheet piling!
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2011, 10:15:01 AM »
Phil, why not just run a hose flexible food-grade hose above ground to move the wort from the shed to the basement?  It will be easily accessible in case something goes wrong, and doesn't require any digging.  I've seen these kinds of hoses in breweries a lot, with tri-clamps they are easy to move from tank to tank.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Underground wort piping
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2011, 10:21:14 AM »
Phil, why not just run a hose flexible food-grade hose above ground to move the wort from the shed to the basement?  It will be easily accessible in case something goes wrong, and doesn't require any digging.  I've seen these kinds of hoses in breweries a lot, with tri-clamps they are easy to move from tank to tank.

... party pooper!

I guess that'll work. I guess standard brewery hose will work. Of course, there's still the issue of running electricity and potable water out there. Elec must be able to handle 60amp +, 18kW. Big gauge stuff, no?
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