Building a Speece cone CO2 reactor - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 05:37 PM Thread Starter
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Lightbulb Building a Speece cone CO2 reactor

Hi folks!
I have been researching all the various methods of dissolving CO2 in our tanks. The most interesting one I have seen is the Speece cone. However almost no one in our hobby talks about it and even less people build it. I would like to try and build one. Here is what I have found so far.


First, what is a Speece cone?
Well, it is a inverted cone type design which is used commercially. check it out:


and




Here is a good video explanation:



And they make them REALLY big, see here:
https://www.army.mil/article/179827/...itigation_site


I was wondering if we can make one for CO2. I did find one guy here talking and building a Speece-Cerges hybrid:

Quote:
Originally Posted by SingAlongWithTsing View Post
i shoved a Perrier bottles in mines

DIY Ozone Cone/ Cerges Hybrid - YouTube



if the co2 is gonna get trapped anywhere it's gonna be the Perrier bottle, the flow coming in from the pump is just gonna keep pounding it til it's saturated.

That sure is an simple build solution. Anyone else tried this?

I was wondering what could be used to make it without using a filter housing. And if filter housing is the only or easily available solution, what can be used inside it, something conical, like a plastic flask with its bottom cut off? I found some on eBay, but most are white, not clear.

I do not like the idea of back pressure needed for Cerges. It will restrict flow of my canister. I think bypass plumbing would be a good way to maintain flow and be able to tune the Speece cone.

Anyway, for now, here is what I would like to do:
  1. Get a filter housing which has big enough connectors. Is 3/4" good enough or we need 1"?
  2. Get a conical flask, cut off its bottom, install it in the middle
  3. Build a bypass, something like the one below, but with less elbows, if possible.

What do you say?



Quote:
Originally Posted by Immortal1 View Post
Best I can offer on this subject...


-Raj

Last edited by rajdude; 04-22-2020 at 05:38 PM. Reason: corrections
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post #2 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 06:03 PM
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I like the basic Speece cone idea. If you look for @Ken Keating1 's build thread, near the bottom of post 1 you will see his variable volume reactor which I believe is basically a Speece cone.
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post #3 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 06:24 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah! it is here
https://www.plantedtank.net/forums/1...l#post11147935

That does looks like a speece cone

I just found a commercial version
https://www.aquamerik.com/boutique/o...s-pvc/?lang=en
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-Raj
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post #4 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 06:39 PM Thread Starter
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Thumbs up in-line diffuser

I have been thinking of using an in-line diffuser just like Mr. Keating does. But I read that it does not work with a Cerges reactor, too many micro bubbles escape. Just read that the bubbles are doing ok in his style reactor
Even better!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Keating1 View Post
With the reactor I'm using, all bubble get dissolved into the water column before they exit the reactor. ........snip....

The only problem is........I have only around 14" vertical space in my cabinet

-Raj
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post #5 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 07:07 PM
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Space being an issue...the cerges style will probably be your best bet and they are perfectly good reactors. I use a Rex Grigg but I have more space. I still chopped mine down to a total length of 16" which probably isn't ideal but it seems to work well.


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post #6 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 07:21 PM
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I didn't know these were called Speece cones. I think I was previously searching for them under something like gas cone or some such. Anyway I tried to build one out of pvc a year back. Here is what mine looked like:



As you can see its quite huge. I used it in some experiments where I tried to dissolve room air into the water, I wanted complete dissolution but couldn't make it work. I eventually cut it apart to make a smaller modified rex griggs style reactor with a bypass.



I recently added a valve on the bypass because apparently that is where it actually needs to be.

Kind of what I discovered is that its easy to overthink co2 reactors but the reality is that any reactor with slowed water movement is going to work and its us hobbyists that tend to mess them up by adding doodads on.


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post #7 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 07:56 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah, I hear you.....that could be my only option........unless I put the Speece reactor in the adjacent room, where I am planning to put the CO2 equipment, anyway. Longer hoses from the canister filter will be needed...but sure how much that will slow down the flow, though.


I do have a couple of concerns about Cerges style reactors, though:
  1. Most people say that they slow down the flow.
  2. Need pressure buildup inside it, using valves.

I got a Fluval G6, rated at 265 GPH with filter media, head and hoses factored in (its pump is rated at 665 GPH). I really should test it out. Tank is a 65 gallon. I am not going with a sump at this time. Maybe with the next, bigger tank with bigger stand where all this could fit inside. My tank right now is very plain vanilla, started it a month back... I have a mud room to the right side of that filter sitting on the floor. Planning to punch a hole through the wall, behind that canister...for CO2 pipe. Got some other ideas also....but that is now going OT. Gotta start another thread for that.








Quote:
Originally Posted by Nubster View Post
Space being an issue...the cerges style will probably be your best bet and they are perfectly good reactors. I use a Rex Grigg but I have more space. I still chopped mine down to a total length of 16" which probably isn't ideal but it seems to work well.
Bump: So question.......
Can we slow down the water flow through Cerges and let most of the water flow through the bypass...or are those valves intended to increase water pressure inside Cerges? I am confused....I have read that the latter is true.


I am trying to keep water flow intact.


Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
snip
Kind of what I discovered is that its easy to overthink co2 reactors but the reality is that any reactor with slowed water movement is going to work and its us hobbyists that tend to mess them up by adding doodads on.

-Raj

Last edited by rajdude; 04-22-2020 at 08:21 PM. Reason: added info
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post #8 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minorhero View Post
As you can see its quite huge. I used it in some experiments where I tried to dissolve room air into the water, I wanted complete dissolution but couldn't make it work. I eventually cut it apart to make a smaller modified rex griggs style reactor with a bypass. .
Your reactor design wasn't the issue with incomplete dissolution, the problem was that air is 78% nitrogen and nitrogen is only slightly soluble in water. If you used CO2 only you would most likely would of had complete dissolution.
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post #9 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 08:18 PM
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@minorhero was going to mention about the valve on the by-pass but you already noted that.
Something of interest, being on the subject of the bypass valve, in my original setup I was using a Marineland canister filter. With it's filtered flow of XXX gallons per hour, having the bypass valve at 60-70% shut seems to be about right for dissolving the bubbles before they left the reactor. I eventually upgraded to the AquaTOP CF500 canister and found the water flow thru the reactor to be too fast. With the bypass valve set to 40-50% shut the flow thru the reactor was again correct.
Recently I installed a Fluval FX4 canister filter. After a little tinkering I realized there was alot more flow. The bypass valve is now at about 10-15% shut.

A bypass valve on the Speece cone would likely be of the same value - optimizing flow within the reactor and allowing the excess flow to bypass.


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post #10 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 08:18 PM Thread Starter
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Question

THANK YOU Ken, for chiming in here


May I ask you a question?
What would you do different if you had to build that reactor again?

Does it really need to be that tall?
Will it help if the bottom of it was wider, like a real cone? only if there was a way to get or make one.



Sorry, that was more than one question



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Keating1 View Post
Your reactor design wasn't the issue with incomplete dissolution, the problem was that air is 78% nitrogen and nitrogen is only slightly soluble in water. If you used CO2 only you would most likely would of had complete dissolution.

-Raj
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post #11 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 08:33 PM
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@rajdude - one of the biggest problems I have found with the Cerges reactors is not the basic design, but the inlet/outlet of the water filter being converted to a reactor.
If you happen to stop at a Menards/Lowes/Home Depot and look at the actual whole house filters you will note the inlet/outlet thread sizes range from 1/2" to 3/4" pipe thread. But the actual hole where the water goes into is typically alot smaller.
I found a 3M brand whole house filter (standard 10" tall) that uses 3/4" pipe thread and the hole where the water goes is atleast 1/2" to maybe 5/8" in dia - much better for water flow!

Like I stated above - the by-pass valve helps retain overall GPH water flow of the system.
As for pressure, honestly I have found putting the reactor as close to the floor (more head pressure from the tank above) does a better job at dissolving bubbles as opposed to forcing the water from the canister filter into the reactor (valve on the reactor output).

Bump: https://www.thermofisher.com/order/c...0#/DS4101-0500
Hmmm, wonder how big a 1,700ml (58oz) flask really is? About 1/2 gallon. Might be big enough for a 60g tank :-)


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post #12 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 08:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Keating1 View Post
Your reactor design wasn't the issue with incomplete dissolution, the problem was that air is 78% nitrogen and nitrogen is only slightly soluble in water. If you used CO2 only you would most likely would of had complete dissolution.
One more question...
Where do you get those blue translucent pipe sections?
Does anyone make clear ones also?

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-Raj
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post #13 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 08:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Immortal1 View Post
@rajdude - one of the biggest problems I have found with the Cerges reactors is not the basic design, but the inlet/outlet of the water filter being converted to a reactor.

If you happen to stop at a Menards/Lowes/Home Depot and look at the actual whole house filters you will note the inlet/outlet thread sizes range from 1/2" to 3/4" pipe thread. But the actual hole where the water goes into is typically alot smaller.

I found a 3M brand whole house filter (standard 10" tall) that uses 3/4" pipe thread and the hole where the water goes is atleast 1/2" to maybe 5/8" in dia - much better for water flow!



Like I stated above - the by-pass valve helps retain overall GPH water flow of the system.

As for pressure, honestly I have found putting the reactor as close to the floor (more head pressure from the tank above) does a better job at dissolving bubbles as opposed to forcing the water from the canister filter into the reactor (valve on the reactor output).

Bump: https://www.thermofisher.com/order/c...0#/DS4101-0500

Hmmm, wonder how big a 1,700ml (58oz) flask really is? About 1/2 gallon. Might be big enough for a 60g tank :-)
Thanks for the tips

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-Raj
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post #14 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 09:00 PM
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I'm an extrusion blow molding technician at Thermo Fisher in Rochester, I actually make these filtering flasks. There made from polypropylene that is somewhat opaque, it would be difficult to see clear liquid inside. The barbed tip has a rather small ID, maybe a quarter of an inch, so it would be quite restrictive. For a very clear cone shaped bottle, the 2000ml seperatory funnel made from Teflon (FEP) comes to mind, however, they run 6 or 700 each. But they are inert to basically any acid or base and have a working temp from -100 to 250 degrees.
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post #15 of 65 (permalink) Old 04-22-2020, 09:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajdude View Post
May I ask you a question?
What would you do different if you had to build that reactor again?

Does it really need to be that tall?
Will it help if the bottom of it was wider, like a real cone? only if there was a way to get or make one.
The one item I would change is I move the location of the valve as shown below. Sometimes CO2 will build up a gurgle a little bit and moving the valve would allow easier "burping" of the reaction chamber.

I don't believe it needs to be as tall as I initially built it, I just wanted as much CO2 reaction time within the chamber as possible. My observation is the one could probably get by with 6" of length for each chamber size. Regarding a larger size for the bottom it all depends on how much flow is going through and what size aquarium it's supporting. Lower flow means smaller pipe size can be used. The 2" bottom chamber works fine for my 55 G, but if I had a larger aquarium I would probably bump the size up to 3".

Key Points: If using clear PVC, use a union fitting in the largest chamber, biofilm will form an you'll want to clean the reactor. Also, use a gate valve on the output of the reactor to be able control the water flow and adjust the location of the bubbles. Highly recommend using clear PVC for the reaction chambers to be able to observe what's happening.



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