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Plastic Conical Fermenter, CHEAP

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:47 am
by Mob_Barley
Hi all, here is a link I found a while back to a site that sells a 15 gallon conical plastic tank which I think would be ideal for a conical fermenter. I plan on purchasing one when I have the time to retrofit it with all the connections. I believe you can purchase the tank connections which would be for the stainless version but a good scrounger should be able to figure it out on the cheap. It comes with a stand for $104 and $40 shipping. The 14.5 gal standard "fermenator" is $585 plus shipping at Austin Home Brew Supply. With the Tri-Clamp it's $809, so I think it could be fitted out for less than half of what a new stainless one costs. One of the uses is for Biodiesel, but I'm not 100% sure about it being "food grade" or not.

Here's the link:

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:38 am
by yeastmeister
Hmmmm...doesn't say if its food grade (designed for boidiesel, so I'd assume not), also, its listed as being made from medium-density polyethylene (MDPE), which I am pretty certain is oxygen permeable.

I have no idea what other plastic fermenters are made out of, but the better bottles (which I don't use by the way, I'm still a glass and stainless steel kind of guy) are made from polyethylene terephthalate copolymer (PET), which is supposed to NOT be oxygen permeable. Course if your still want to try it, you could always wrap the entire thing in polyvinylidene chloride (e.g., Saran Wrap, which is almost 90% polyvinylidene chloride), it is supposed to be a fairly effective oxygen barrier. I'd stay away from polyethylene (e.g., Handiwrap or Glad Wrap), polyvinyl chloride (e.g., Reynold's Plastic Wrap), which I believe have much higher oxygen permeability.

Someone please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, I'm not an expert on plastics, I just know how to use google.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 10:53 am
by aleguy
I've seen plastic cylindro-conical fermenters advertised in BYO. I don't know how large they are but I would think they would at least have one large enough for a ten-gallon batch. I don't have a copy handy right now or I would give you the website.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 2:21 pm
by zeeboz
I was interested in doing something like this a while back but decided against it because of lack of space and not being able to control the temperature with a large vessel. You may be able to do it though.

FYI ... I found the following web site that confirms the use of MDP as acceptable for food use .... ... SPLAY=DESC

Here is the quote, "This polyethylene composition can therefore be used for film applications, requiring this unique combination of properties, such as but not exclusively, food or non-food packaging, personal care products, agricultural or industrial products."

If it's good as a film (i.e. food wrapping as Yeastmeister suggested) I would think it would be suitable for your application since it would be much thicker than the film wrapping.

Good Luck,

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:50 pm
by aleguy
The main difference between food-grade plastics and non food-grade is the mold release chemicals used not the composition of the plastic itself. It's probably possible to clean that stuff off but with plastics you can never really be sure.
Oh yeah. The plastic fermenter I was thinking of is called the V vessel, I think.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 3:58 pm
by Mob_Barley
I'll probably wait until I decide to start making 10 gallon batches. Right now the 7 gallon brew bucket works fine. I had seen this tank discussed on the northern brewer forum a while back. I sometimes have caviar tastes, but have a baloney I try to find the cheapest way to go on most projects.

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 2:14 pm
by aleguy
There is a 15 1/2 gallon stainless fermenter available for about $200, but it's not a conical. It's basically an old style keg and a rack. The airlock goes in the bunghole. I considered it briefly myself, but decided it would be too hard to rack off and to clean. You could basically do the same thing with a modern keg if you wanted to. Just remove the valve and pop in an airlock. you'd probably have to make a racking cane for it yourself though. (3/8 ID? copper pipe)