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Home Brew Wort Cooler as Subject of Process Modeling and Design: A Compelling Education Module

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Impact of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill on Chemical Engineering Education & Misc.

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.779.1 - 22.779.13



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Paper Authors

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Michael A. Smith Villanova University


Noelle K. Comolli Villanova University

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Noelle Comolli, Ph.D., attended University of Delaware for her B.S. in Chemical Engineering, then Drexel University for her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. She is currently an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Villanova University, specializing in biomaterials and polymeric based drug delivery designs.

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Home Brew Wort Cooler as Subject of Process Modeling and Design: A Compelling Education ModuleStudent interest typically peaks when the subject – in this case home beer brewing - issomething near and dear to them. One part of a typical home brewing apparatus consistsof a10 gal boiling vessel containing 6-7 gallons boiled wort (unfermented beer) that mustbe cooled quickly and without contamination. One solution to this to employ animmersion cooling coil consisting of 25 feet of 3/8 inch copper tubing, coiled into acylinder 1 ft in diameter and suspended with the top of the coil at the liquid surface. Wehave developed an educational module consisting of a demonstration (water is used inplace of wort), a transient modeling exercise, and a design exercise. During thedemonstration students are able to observe the boundary layer of cooling water flowingoff the cooling coil and collect data for subsequent transient modeling exercise. For themodeling, heat transfer coefficients are estimated using typical heat transfer correlationsfor both forced convection (inside coil) and external convection (outside coil) andcompared with experimental values. The modeling exercise is easily adapted to explorethe impact of various assumptions and simplifications in the model. For example, fordifferent coolant flows we evaluate the effect of assuming a linear temperature profileversus capturing temperature variation in the coil by discretizing the coil. Non-dimensional version of the model equations can also be used to show how the magnitudeof different factors can be used to a-priori suggest appropriate model simplifications,providing a useful lesson in non-dimensional analysis for this real physical system.Finally, the module provides some very useful lessons regarding design. We note thatthere are a number of shell-and-tube heat-exchangers expressly marketed to the homebrewing hobbyist; however, the simple coil design has significant advantages in cost,ease of operation, reduced possibility for contamination, ease of cleaning; furthermore,the design facilitates separation of clear wort from spent hops and coagulated proteinsfrom the boil. Finally, microbrewers and industrial-scale brewers do not use immersionchillers; the relationship between fermentation batch volume and coil area provides aclear introduction to the laws of process equipment scaling. We have used aspects of thisdemonstration and associated modeling and design in both Heat Transfer course andProcess Modeling and Analysis, the education module could easily be adapted to alaboratory experiment as well.

Smith, M. A., & Comolli, N. K. (2011, June), Home Brew Wort Cooler as Subject of Process Modeling and Design: A Compelling Education Module Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18060

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