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Chemical distribution

By December 1, 2014Chemicals

Breweries use a lot of chemicals. Of course not in the beer, but for cleaning, sanitizing, water conditioning in boilers and cooling towers, and wastewater pH adjustment. I’d say the big three are sodium hydroxide, nitric acid, and phosphoric acid. Hydrogen peroxide, peracetic acid, and citric acid are also commonly used. There is a list of other chemicals such as chain lubricant, floor cleaner, chelants and surfactants, boiler water treatment, cooling tower water treatment, and sulfuric acid.

These chemicals are dangerous to work with, expecially when in their concentrated form. At a minimum, gloves and safety glasses should be worn at all time when working with these chemicals. But that’s not what this post is about…

Like most things, the larger the container you buy the product in, the cheaper it is. The most expensive way to buy chemicals for a brewery is in a 5-gal bucket.

55 gallon drums work great, so do 300 gallon totes or IBC’s. With both of these options the trick is moving these containers around and getting the chemical out of the container safely and reliably. Plus they take up space.

Quick product plug here. I like this drum truck for moving full 55-gal drums around. It works great for moving chemicals from pallet to pallet or on the ground to on the ground. Not so great for moving from a pallet to the floor, or from the floor to a pallet.

Again, that is not what this post is about.

When pumping out of a container, hose, hose barbs, and hose clamps work but they are a nightmare. A little leak will develop somewhere and the pump will lose prime, or it’ll drip and make a dangerous mess. Use tubing with compression fittings instead. Different tubing and fitting materials have different chemical compatibilities. Rather than have a bunch of different types of tubing and fittings around, go with one material that works for all. PVDF is usually that material.

You can dispense from a barrel through a pump in to a handheld jug. For most small brewers this is fine, just make sure the jug has an air vent to reduce splashing. But you can also go from the pump to a remote location. Run PVC electrical conduit from the chemical area to the remote location, then run the tubing through the conduit for secondary containment. Not easy to pull that tubing through the first time around. Use a vacuum to pull twine through, then pull rope through, then use wire pulling lubricant and pull the tubing through with the rope. You can plumb chemicals direct in to a CIP loop (manual valve, check valve, heat sink length of pipe, then tubing). If I had a brewery at my disposal I would take a picture for you…

Remember, like everything, safety is more important than anything. What happens if there is a leak? What happens if it gets in my eyes? Or someone else’s eyes? What about fumes? Be safe.

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