No-Waste Wort Heat Exchanger

Updated: 4 days ago

I hate using something once and then throwing it away. I've seen many wort chiller set-ups where a garden hose is hooked up the the heat exchanger, the flow is turned to full blast and then the hot water runs right down a drain. Some homebrewers run the hot water into buckets to use for cleaning - this is great! But the amount of water to chill is often close to twice the wort volume.

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We built an extremely efficient heat exchanger that not only saves the hot water, but uses less water overall to cool the wort. With this setup, we can chill 6 gallons of wort to below 80 degrees with 5 gallons of water in 7 minutes!

This setup uses a plate chiller and counter-flow chiller in a clever configuration. I can't claim any credit for the idea, but I have tweaked the design to fit our brewing equipment and set up.

Rather than describe how the heat exchange happens, I created this diagram below that shows the flow of liquid.

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The day before brewing, we fill a 5-gallon keg with water and put it in the cooler to chill down overnight. Just before we start the chilling process, the cold water is dumped into the HLT and then pumped into the chiller system as the hot wort is pumped in the opposite direction.

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The hot water that emerges from the chiller is re-directed into our insulated mash tun to conserve heat until we start clean up. Since we use the dual-exchange set-up and a flow control valve, the water that goes into the mash tun is VERY hot.

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