The growing popularity of craft beer has led entrepreneurs to establish their own breweries to participate in the market. While their beer recipes will help position them in the market, one thing all bottlers have in common is cleaning craft beer bottling equipment to remove dried residues and other contaminants thereby maintaining product quality and satisfying inspectors. An ultrasonic cleaner can make short work of this.
Ultrasonic Cleaning Beer Brewing Equipment
The benefit of ultrasonic cleaning is its speed and thoroughness compared to mechanical washers and hand scrubbing brewing equipment components. Cleaning is done by the implosion of millions minute bubbles against the surface of these components. As the bubbles violently implode they loosen and carry away tenacious contaminants such as dried residues in a process called ultrasonic cavitation. Because they are so small the bubbles contact all surfaces including those difficult or impossible to reach by hand scrubbing.
Cavitation bubbles are created by the equipment’s generator-powered ultrasonic transducers vibrating at frequencies such as 45,000 cycles per second (45 kHz). In tests conducted by Tovatech’s supplier Elma Ultrasonics stainless steel bottling equipment was thoroughly cleaned in 20 minutes. This is followed by a 2 minute rinse using city water followed by deionized or distilled water rinsing to remove all traces of cleaning bath residues.
Ultrasonic Cleaner Selection
Ultrasonic cleaners are manufactured in sizes ranging from small benchtop units to industrial-size floor models. You can work with Tovatech’s ultrasonic professionals to select a cleaner that best suits the size of your craft beer operation confident that regardless of equipment size the cleaning principle remains the same. By way of example we cite the roller-mounted Elmasonic X-tra Basic series of cleaners available in 6 capacities from 5.8 to 57 gallons.
Among the features of this series are
- a sweep mode to provide uniform distribution of cavitation action throughout the bath
- a pulse mode activated to degas fresh cleaning solutions and to remove more tenacious contaminants
- a heater that lets you set the bath temperature from 30 to 80⁰C as recommended by the cleaning solution manufacturer
- a timer in increments to 30 minutes with auto shut-off or permanent on
- user-set cleaning at 25 or 45 kHz. The higher frequency is used for general cleaning; the lower frequency for removal of coarse contaminants
- a drain to discharge spent cleaning solutions
A suggested cleaning solution formulation available from Tovatech is phosphoric acid-based Chem-Crest 55 liquid detergent concentrate. Recommended dilution is to 5% in water; recommended cleaning temperature is 70⁰C.
Cleaning Prep for Beer Brewing Equipment
Your first step is preparing the cleaning bath. Fill the tank about half way with water then add the proper amount of cleaning solution concentrate. Continue to add water to the tank fill line. Activate the ultrasound and pulse mode to thoroughly mix and degas the solution. This will take about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of your ultrasonic cleaner.
When you are ready to clean
- Set the thermostat to the recommended temperature. The unit will start when the temperature is reached.
- Place bottling equipment components in the mesh stainless steel basket. Do not overcrowd.
- Lower the basket into the solution, making certain that all parts are fully immersed. Note: parts displacement will raise the level of solution. Drain off excess until the level remains at the fill line.
- Set the frequency to 45 kHz and the timer to 20 minutes.
- At the end of the cycle remove and inspect the parts. If satisfied a 2-minute rinse in fresh water then deionized or distilled water removes all traces of the cleaning solution without leaving water spots. Allow them to dry and they are ready for reassembly.
Larger scale brewers of craft beers might want to consider the modular Elmasonic X-tra Flex 2 system combining an ultrasonic cleaner and a rinsing tank both with oscillating features that further improve cleaning action.
Cleaning Equipment Maintenance
Residues that rise to the surface should be skimmed off and set aside. After a time cleaning efficiency will decrease, signaling that it is time to replace the solution. Drain the tank and dispose of the spent solution and skimmed residues according to local regulations. Clean the tank as instructed in the user manual. Then prepare and degas a fresh cleaning bath.
For additional information please download a copy of our ultrasonic cleaner buyers’ guide. For help in selecting equipment sized to your craft beer brewing operations contact our ultrasonic cleaning professionals.