I just thought of an interesting and inexpensive alternative to create an electric-fired HLT for my new all electric brewing system. The typical SST keg or pot is the typical vessel for a hot liquor tank, but that was going to be expensive and require some modification. Not too bad an alternative, but I was searching. Aluminum pots are another alternative, but again they will require modification. Either of those vessels would be more difficult to insulate since they are cylindrical.
A typical insulated water keg is another option, but I am concerned with placing an electrical element in a plastic vessel with thin plastic walls. Plus, they have relatively small diameter and that would require installing the element vertically in the keg.
I pondered other barrels and tanks and then lit upon the idea that a typical single-basin sink could suit my requirements. I brew batches up to 10 gallon volume, so I might have the need for about 10 to 11 gallons of sparge water. A utility sink would work since they typically have 20+ gallon capacity.
The good thing with a utility sink is that a drain outlet is standard and the typically straight side walls are well suited to mounting a flange-mounted heater element so I wouldn't have to deal with a 1" NPS fitting or nut. There are stainless utility sinks, but there are also the thick plastic or composite sinks that might also be suited to this elevated temperature duty (say 180F).
The flat sides and bottom of the sink should make it pretty easy to glue on panels of foam insulation. I figure that insulation shouldn't cost too much and it should pay off with less heating losses. Another slab of foam can be employed to serve as a lid to the HLT.
I think this could be pretty neat and effective. Any other thoughts?