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> Therminator Heat Exchange Chiller, from Blichmann Engineering
Overall rating of the Therminator
Overall rating of the Therminator
10 Excellent [ 9 ] ** [42.86%]
9 [ 5 ] ** [23.81%]
8 [ 1 ] ** [4.76%]
7 [ 1 ] ** [4.76%]
6 [ 1 ] ** [4.76%]
5 [ 1 ] ** [4.76%]
4 [ 1 ] ** [4.76%]
3 [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
2 [ 0 ] ** [0.00%]
1 Awful [ 2 ] ** [9.52%]
Total Votes: 73
 
cj in j
post Jan 7 2005, 02:59 AM
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The Therminator from Blichmann Engineering is a stainless steel heat exchange wort chiller (see photo below). Similar to what professional breweries use, it uses parallel plates which alternately carry hot wort and cold water. According to the website, the Therminator allows you to "Chill 10 gal in 5 min to 68F using 58F cooling water at 5 gpm." The water fittings are standard threaded hose barbs, and the wort fittings are standard 1/2" MPT.

I first tried the Therminator without using quick disconnects, and it was not a pleasant experience. Since I got my hoses, pump and chiller set up with quick disconnects (you'll need a coupling on each side), though, is a breeze to set up. After flame out, I can be chilling within 10 minutes going at a leisurely pace, and five gallons of wort is chiller to under 70F in 5 minutes or so. My water flow is fairly low, so I cannot run my pump at full -- slowing it down to about half the flow rate, however, work fine. In the winter, no prechiller is necessary. In total, it takes about 15 gallons of water to chill the 5 gallons. With a prechiller (old immersion chiller in a bucket of ice water), I have been able to chill a lager wort to around 60F in less than 10 minutes. Before when I used the immersion chiller, it took 45-60 minutes to chill under 70F, even in the winter using a prechiller. Besides the time savings, the water savings are enormous!

One thing I'm worried about with the Therminator is cleaning. Since it can't be disassembled, the only cleaning that you can do is to backflush with hot tap water followed by pumping cleaner through the chiller. I do this by setting up a loop between my hopback, through the pump and chiller, and back to the hopback. I pump the cleaner through for about 30 minutes while I'm cleaning up other things. Then after I rinse with hot tap water, I repeat with sanitizer (Saniclean, the non-foaming version of Star San is my current sanitizer of choice) while I finish cleanup. All in all, it's not much trouble to clean, but it does take time.

All in all, the Therminator is a great tool for the geeky homebrewer or for large-batch homebrewers. For people like me, brewing 5-gallons at a time, the benefit is less obvious, but it is still worth it in my opinion.

The Therminator
(IMG:http://www.blichmannengineering.com/Therminator/Therminator%20with%2012oz%20bottle.JPG)
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Beershasta
post Feb 20 2005, 11:27 AM
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I have used my Therminator for two batches. The compact size makes it easy to handle and it takes little space. The bracket that allows the unit to be mounted is very nice. I also like that both the water and wort connections are threaded. Being threaded allows the easy addition of QDs.

After one use, the results were so good that i decided to change mine to what you see in the picture below. I can transfer, cool and oxygenate 10 gallons of wort in 9-10 minutes. I do use a 75' immersion type pre-chiller in an ice bucket to cool my warm ground water.

Cleaning is it's only downside. While I am still toying with the best method, it will definitly involve a loop of boiling hot water. The design of this chiller gives great surface area for wort/water contact through small narrow spaces but that same design is a liability when it comes to cleaning. It take several passes in both direction to get clean, particulate free water.

While cleaning is a bit time consuming, it's not more time consuming that with my old convoluted counterflow. Since the chilling is FAR better than with a convoluted counterflow, I am giving this chiller the credit of being called the best chiller on the market. I rate it a 9.

Pardon my poor spelliing, I had had several pints at this point in the day. (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/blush.gif)
(IMG:http://www.webulan.com/~plaunius/pumpchillO2.jpg)
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FrostyTheBeerMan
post Feb 23 2005, 11:51 AM
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Hello, I read this a few times and don't really get what you meant, are you saying that it was a bad experience by just screwing on the hoses to the Inlet and Outlets ?

I'm a bit pizzled here. I see the inlet and outlet are standard hoes threads, this should be easy to do ? ... help (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/biggrin.gif)


QUOTE(cj in j @ Jan 7 2005, 04:00 AM)
I first tried the Therminator without using quick disconnects, and it was not a pleasant experience.
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cj in j
post Feb 23 2005, 02:27 PM
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No, the cooling water was easy -- like you said, just twist on the standard hose fittings and you're off to the races!

The quick disconnects are on the wort side of things. I run hoses from the brewpot to the hopback to the pump to the chiller to the fermenter. Each of these connections had barbed fittings, so I'd have to clamp on the hoses for each one -- seven different hose connections in total. It was a major pain, both for setting things up and for taking things apart. Now I have quick disconnects on most of the connections (except coming out of the brewpot), and can set everything up in a minute instead of more than five.

If I remember, I'll take some pictures today when I brew and post them later.
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Browndog
post Mar 3 2005, 03:39 PM
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Beer Shasta,

Nice set up with the Thermenator and pump! You may want to consider putting the flow valve AFTER the pump, before the chiller. The idea of the mag drive is that it will slip, keeping the pump full and limiting the flow to the chiller. Otherwise you may get cavitation in your beer. Not so important before fermenting, but could be a factor if pumping finished prodect. That's how the boys at the Brew Shop educated me anyways. For what it's worth....

I am pleased with the performance of the Thermenator. Cleaning I don't think will be an issue as long as one flushes right after chilling.

I also went with the Thrumometer and use an oxygenating system similar to yours. From there into a 14.5 gal Fermenator. Another well designed Blichman product IMHO.

Cheers!
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Triple Freak
post Mar 3 2005, 05:43 PM
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I don't know if this will help or not, but if you use a magnetic pump, ALWAYS put the ball valve on the output of the pump, never on the intake. You can burn up your pump by putting the valve on the intake.
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FrostyTheBeerMan
post Mar 3 2005, 05:46 PM
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I figured that one real quick Triple Freak... almost burnt out my pump !
Thank goodness I was quick and on the ball.

Excellent info you posted there, could save somebody MAJOR $.
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cj in j
post Mar 3 2005, 07:07 PM
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I got the same advice/warning when I bought my March pump from More Beer -- restrict the flow on the output side, leave the input side wide open. So far so good! (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/smile.gif)
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Beershasta
post Apr 13 2005, 07:16 AM
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The ball valve dosen't have to be just prior to the pump to work. I fill the "cooling machine" with a thin sanitizer solution just prior to use and pump it out prior sending wort to the conical. Since the machine is full at the start, there will be no dry areas thus no cavitation. I do this by adding a ball valve and QD to the end of my transfer hose. I can simply pump out the water/sanitizer solution into a bucket until I pump a few cups of wort. I then close the valve and attach it to my conical, open the valve and start to fill.

This is the same method I used at the local brewpub that I worked with last year.
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FrostyTheBeerMan
post Apr 13 2005, 07:38 AM
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Hi BeerShasta,

how do you make absolutely sure that you don't clog the Therminator ?

I'm thinking of buying one, but am a bit worried about clogging it.

I would think you must have a 1001% sure fire way of making sure nothing
gets into it .....

how do you do it in your system ?

thanks very much for any info.

Mark
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Beershasta
post Apr 13 2005, 07:47 AM
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I have had no problems so far. I do several things that help. First I only use whole hops. Secondly, I use a Bazooka T in my brew pot. I also use this grant just prior to my pot and before the pump in cases where I use a bunch of hops like in my IPAs.
(IMG:http://www.webulan.com/~plaunius/grant1.jpg)

My cleaning method is similar to Chris's. I first run tap water though to get the majority of trash out and the use boiling water. I open/close the outflow ball valve on my hose (that I mentioned in my last post) quickly creating aggitation in my cooling machine. I run off about a half gallon of boiling water in each direction until I get a clean flow without particulate. It dosen't take very long. I never feel that I am near any type of clogging. It's beed quite easy once I did it a few times.
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Beershasta
post Apr 13 2005, 07:49 AM
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Oh, and since I am pumping through it, I have quite a bit of pressure going through. You can tell that it's nowhere near clogging. I can use such a fast flow rate because I use a 75' pre-chiller in an ice bath. My wort is flying through.
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FrostyTheBeerMan
post Apr 13 2005, 07:54 AM
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Hi BeerShasta !

you've made me feel better (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/smile.gif) thanks for the info.

Ok I gotta ask ....... the image you just posted,
is this 3 different vessels of some sort, or is the *same* vessel with different views ?

what is this ? is this the grant ? I love it, did you buy that ? or make it ?

very nice ! I want one (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/tongue.gif)

Mark
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Beershasta
post Apr 13 2005, 07:59 AM
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Same vessel from three different views. It's a hot water reservior for a commercial coffee maker. I made the false bottom and mashpad and added a ball valve.

It holds 1.3 gallons of wort. I can use it as a grant or hopback. To use it as a hopback, I just add hop cones to the space between the false bototm and the mashpad.

By the way, it has a lid but I use foil instead.

EDITED: I didn't mean to hijack this thread. This can be taken to another thread if needed.

This post has been edited by Beershasta: Apr 13 2005, 08:01 AM
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FrostyTheBeerMan
post Apr 13 2005, 08:22 AM
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Very nice (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/smile.gif)

I guess I won't be ordering one soon however, if you didn't buy it at MoreBeer or NorthenrBrewer.com (IMG:style_emoticons/brewboard/tongue.gif)

really nice though I am impressed, it's a really nice piece of machinery.

thanks for sharing BeerShasta.

Mark
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