A Simple Look at the Complex Principles of Fluid Dynamics Used In Brewing

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August 11, 2014 by Prost Brewing

A complex system of pipes connects vessels like our iconic copper kettles to the rest of the brauhaus.

A complex system of pipes connects vessels like our iconic copper kettles to the rest of the brauhaus.

You’ve seen photos and read entries on our blog about the many different vessels that encompass the brewing process. There are tanks and vessels for mashing, boiling wort, lautering, fermenting and lagering bier, among other processes. How do we transfer the liquid between all these pieces of equipment and ensure its quality and integrity? The answer is the vast system of piping in the Prost Brewing brauhaus, and how it’s used. But the piping isn’t used to just transfer wort or bier to different vessels. We also move gases and liquids through the pipes for the purpose of cleaning, sanitation, cooling wort, and so on. The key to understanding issues and opportunities in our brewery is knowing the principles of fluid dynamics and the types of fluid flows.

Fluid dynamics will determine what happens to a liquid or gas and its molecules when traveling through a closed space at different velocities. One type of flow is called laminar flow, in which a fluid runs through a pipe at a velocity that leaves the molecules’ travel undisturbed in the direction of the flow. Fluids travel smoothly, with molecules moving in a parallel direction. As velocity increases, a change occurs that results in varying direction of the molecule flow. This second type of flow is called turbulent flow, when the molecules become scattered and flow chaotically.

In the Prost brauhaus, there are situations in which we want a laminar flow for the fluids, and there are situations which call for a turbulent flow of other fluids. In addition to velocity, another factor that determines the type of flow is the diameter of the pipe. Our understanding of fluid dynamics has helped us select the right equipment for our brauhaus, and has guided us in using this equipment in a highly effective and expert way. The results speak for themselves – consistently excellent, delicious, and authentic German style bier. Prost!

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