Although it is impressive how fast you can implode a tank, no one wants to lose a fermenter or bright tank to vacuum failure. The good news is you can prevent vacuum failure with minimal effort. You just need the right size and type of vacuum relief valve for your situation.
There are several different types of relief valves to choose from. Ashton Lewis, Master Brewer-in-Residence for Paul Mueller Company, gives us a quick rundown on the main differences.
Spring-Loaded Pressure Vacuum Relief Valve
A spring-loaded, pressure vacuum relief valve is a reasonably low-cost option. Typically these types of valves are used on tanks with a volume of 150 barrels or less. They can run anywhere from $250 to $400 and there are a few disadvantages that come with that small price tag. One big one is the pressure required to open the valve is very high. This can be problematic if your fermenter or bright tank doesn't have a very high maximum allowable vacuum. Make sure you do the math on your equipment to determine if you can get away with one of these valves.
Weight-Loaded Vacuum Relief Valve
A weight-loaded vacuum relief valve is best for bigger applications. They are typically used in tanks with a volume greater than 150 barrels. They can even be used in very big tanks with volumes greater than 1000 barrels. The benefit of a weight loaded relief valve is they need a very low pressure to open. This can be very useful in tanks that don't have a very high maximum allowable vacuum.
Weight-Loaded Vacuum Relief Valve with Pneumatic Opener
Some weight loaded vacuum relief valves have the added benefit of a pneumatic force opener. This can be used to open the valve during CIP which allows the valve to be cleaned as well. This is important because a dirty vacuum relief valve may fail to open when it is needed.
Depending on the size you get and the features you add on, weight-loaded vacuum relief valves run anywhere from $250-$1800 in cost.
The Right Size is Key
Vacuum failure can occur in a brewery during a variety of every day siutaions, such as after a hot CIP, after fermentation or when a tank is accidentally overfilled. Protect your tanks from vacuum failure by having the correct valve type and size for your unique situation. Download our to help you make the right choice.