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Old February 6th, 2013, 09:51 AM
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Default RO Freezing

We happened to have an "unplanned" experiment a few weeks ago on what happens when the heat fails in an RO room. We had a backup electric heater on a thermostat block, but it wasn't able to keep up with the sub-zero temperatures when the propane heater stopped working over the weekend. It's a Springtech machine.

Remaining water in the feed-pump pressure housing froze, damaging the pump, and tore the cap (welded on) off the pump housing.

Repairs included a new feed-pump (old one can probably be rebuilt) and rewelding the cap back onto the housing.

We had the membranes (2 of them) pressure tested, and (fortunately) they were fine.

Lessons learned....
1. Have the propane heater serviced regularly.
2. Have two electric heaters on two thermostat blocks as backup heat.
3. Have some type of way to monitor temperature in the RO room.
4. Store the membranes in a different building (where it will be noticed if the heat goes out)
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Old February 6th, 2013, 09:54 AM
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Image of damaged feed-pump housing
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Old February 7th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrTimPerkins View Post
We happened to have an "unplanned" experiment a few weeks ago on what happens when the heat fails in an RO room. We had a backup electric heater on a thermostat block, but it wasn't able to keep up with the sub-zero temperatures when the propane heater stopped working over the weekend. It's a Springtech machine.

Remaining water in the feed-pump pressure housing froze, damaging the pump, and tore the cap (welded on) off the pump housing.

Repairs included a new feed-pump (old one can probably be rebuilt) and rewelding the cap back onto the housing.

We had the membranes (2 of them) pressure tested, and (fortunately) they were fine.

Lessons learned....
1. Have the propane heater serviced regularly.
2. Have two electric heaters on two thermostat blocks as backup heat.
3. Have some type of way to monitor temperature in the RO room.
4. Store the membranes in a different building (where it will be noticed if the heat goes out)
Found this device that might help you monitor this ro room. http://www.lacrossetechnology.com/al...e-no-probe.php
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Old February 7th, 2013, 08:59 PM
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Sounds like an expensive lesson learned, i have a small 6ft by 8ft ro room and its well insulated so a small electric heater keeps up fine even in very cold weather. I am very fearful of it freezing, i have two electric heaters and each is plugged into a seperate circuit, also i have a low temp thermostat mounted on the wall by the ro that trips a flashing red light on a pole on the sugarhouse upper deck, that way if the temp gets below normal the light comes on and i can go check on it. Now that being said, i somehow made the mistake of draining the whole machine and removed the membranes of course, and somehow forgot to drain the filter housing, its a high pressure stainless unit, and gosh the thing froze and blew the threads right apart! i was very lucky the feed pump right next to it didnt freeze as well apparently enough water was out of that part. Was a 266 dollar lesson learned but coulda been much worse!
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Old February 8th, 2013, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by markct View Post
Sounds like an expensive lesson learned, i have a small 6ft by 8ft ro room and its well insulated so a small electric heater keeps up fine even in very cold weather.
Our RO room also doubles as a releaser room, so it is larger. We have a small propane heater, which runs even without power, as the electricity sometimes goes out for a period of time. The electric backup normally handle it OK, but it got quite cold, -20 deg F over 3 nights in a row without warming above 0 deg F during the day, so the electric heater just didn't cut it.

Quote:
..made the mistake of draining the whole machine and removed the membranes of course, and somehow forgot to drain the filter housing, its a high pressure stainless unit, and gosh the thing froze and blew the threads right apart!
The machine had been drained....a couple of times, yet there was still a lot of water in it apparently.

The membranes were stored, with some glycol in them. They were OK (had them tested).

Some type of monitoring system will be put in place by next winter. All our facilities (including the sugarhouse) are hooked to the fire and security montoring system, and the main lab does have a low temp sensor. We can probably easily have one put in the RO room too.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 08:51 AM
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Was looking for a whole pic shot of the RO/Extractor room at PMRC but found some old pics from like 2005-6 that i took pics off off 35mm prints=better to save on computer. I did find some recent ones though from 2011. Guessing the RO room is 8' X 12'? which housed the extractors for the Tubing study area that the MFG's set up for experiments along with the RO and room enough to wiggle around in.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 08:52 AM
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The MIGHTY Propane heater on the wall in 2nd photo.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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When I first read Dr Perkins Bio about what he does and the money they need and the money he donates I always thought they worked on a shoe string budget. Man I look around the picture and see some resemblance of my sugar house skills
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Old February 8th, 2013, 09:22 AM
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Shoe String Budget= ROTFLMAO i see many ZERO's behind the $ invested up there Haynes. Donations and Grants help a lot along the way in those figures too.

This is a pic inside the "Plot Shed" section where the experiments are for 1 tap per lateral 5 taps and dual lateral line stuff is studied. Add on the electronic counters for the Sap dumps and i'd guess there are $2k Ea for these custom made extractors and there are like 21-24? in there. This is one side of 2 walls and the other side is the same.
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Old February 8th, 2013, 10:39 AM
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... I always thought they worked on a shoe string budget.
Depends on the project. Some projects we can get away with pretty inexpensively, others, not so much. Frequently a pilot project is something we'll do in our "spare" time with resources we already have in place, so these tend to be relatively cheap...but often these pilot studies don't give us complete answers, they just let us know whether or not we're headed down the right path or a rabbit hole. They also allow us to make some estimates of what it is going to take (and cost) to fully answer the question.

For the RO and Air Injection studies we were doing a few years back, we were spending $20-30k per year just buying sap or concentrate. Takes a LOT of sap or concentrate (and oil) to keep 4 evaporators running, not to mention buying the evaporators, or building a new building just for that purpose (which we had to do), and paying highly educated technicians (plus benefits) to run things. That set of experiments was running about $100k per year (not counting cost of building or evaporators). It was costing $20k just for chemical analyses.

Research done right is often NOT cheap. Another example....for scientific purposes, we need to have replication (duplicate setups of the same treatment) in order to be able to calculate whether something we observe is "real" or not. While producers might "try a few" of something to see what they think, we need to come up with numbers that are verifiable. So for each different treatment we might be studying, we could have identical (as much as possible) setups for each treatment. So for an experiment looking at four treatments -- such as new spouts vs CV spouts vs old spouts vs new droplines, it would require at least 12 different mainlines with 80-100 trees on each of them, each with their own releasers (so 12 releasers). That isn't cheap or easy to keep running perfectly (takes a lot of monitoring to make sure none of the lines have leaks). Or perhaps we're using vacuum chambers. That same study, new spouts vs new CV vs old spouts vs new drops would require 40 different chambers, which run about $120 each to build. We currently have somewhere over 200 of those chambers in operation at PMRC. Then start adding in things like vacuum pumps, tubing systems, tanks, and educated labor (our folks typically have a Masters or PhD and often many years of experience), plus benefits.....it is not cheap at all. However, hopefully you will agree that the results we can show can provide maple producers with information on how to manage their own operations in order to make a profit.

Our funding is derived from multiple sources. About 52% comes from UVM Agricultural Experiment Station Funding, 32% from UVM Extension, 7% from maple syrup sales, 3% from our Endowment, and about 6% from the maple industry (NAMSC grants and donations from maple associations and groups....thanks again SBI). Although 84% of our funding is from in-state (Vermont) sources, we feel that the research we do has benefits to producers far outside just Vermont. Because of that, we frequently do presentations outside of just Vermont. But because of our funding source, if there is a conflict between a Vermont meeting and someplace else....we tend to go to the Vermont meeting. In addition, if you happen to be from another state and call or email with a question, we'll try to help -- but if it is going to take much time or investigation, we're going to point you to resources in your own area. Unfortunately funding for other states maple extension programs has declined sharply in the past decade, so the maple industry in maple places is not being served as well as they were before, and more work is falling onto the shoulders of the maple associations. That is just a fact of life as we all deal with new budget realities.
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Last edited by DrTimPerkins; February 8th, 2013 at 11:04 AM.
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