If you read our recent review of Hydor’s Performer 600 Calcium reactor you’ll know that we recently installed this device on our test system to provide for long term mineral supplementation. Setting up the reactor was just part of that process though, indeed we had to make a number of decisions about how to configure the overall system. One of these decisions was what source of CO2 we were going to use and importantly, how we were going to control gas injection into the reactor.
Before we go any further, it is important to appreciate that CO2 cylinders are potentially dangerous objects, with the gas inside being held at high pressure. Cylinders must therefore always be treated with respect to avoid the possibility of damage to yourself, others, or equipment. Specifically, keep cylinders away from sources of heat (things like transformers, ballasts etc) and make sure that they can’t be knocked over (for example when unplugging equipment, or servicing other items). In short, we recommend you research these matters extensively before you ‘take the plunge’ as it were, and please note that (here’s the bit we have to add) we won’t be held liable for any damages or injury occurring as a result of the material published here. Reducing the high pressure gas to a manageable workable flow also requires the use of a purposely designed regulator and for our review we are using TMC’s V2Pressure Regulator Pro.
With a DIN477 connection, this regulator fits most refillable cylinders and take note that it is also available with a CGA320 connection for use with TMC’s own 567g CO2 cylinders. For our reactor we decided to use a new C02 fire extinguisher as our CO2 source which we obtained from Ebay. This cylinder came without the frost horn attached so all we needed to do to connect the regulator was to add PTFE tape to the thread (in the correct direction) and then tightly fasten the regulator nut with a spanner. With this operation complete we ensured the needle valve was completely closed and then rotated the cylinder so that the regulator was facing away from us. We removed the safety pin which allowed us to squeeze the cylinder’s trigger. With the dial now registering pressure this indicated that the cylinder was open and the escape of gas was being held by the needle valve. At this point we used two thick cable ties to hold the cylinders trigger together. With the assembly ‘primed’ as it were, we took the time to apply some soapy water to the major joints and observed closely to see if any gas was escaping. Take note that we were careful not to get the solenoid wet at all. With no leaks evident we took the opportunity to test the flow of gas before attempting to put the assembly into our cabinet. To do this we simply attached a spare length of tubing to the needle valve nipple and locked this in place with the screw-tight collar. With the solenoid plugged in and turned-on (an orange light within it usefully shows it is operational), we put the other end of the tube into a glass of water and slowly opened up the needle valve until we could see bubbles of CO2 slowly being released. We had now established that the CO2 was flowing properly and we carefully sited the cylinder in a suitable area of our cabinet before connecting the tube to the Calcium reactor. Usefully, a non-return valve was also included but we didn’t need it as we already had one with the Calcium reactor. We did make sure this valve was orientated in the right direction though. We also plugged in the solenoid (to our pH controller) and, after calibrating the controller, the reactor was up and running! Finally we photographed the gauges for future reference.
Regarding the regulator itself, we were immediately impressed when we got it out of the box as it is clearly a sturdy, precision made item. It feels reassuringly heavy and also looks great. One of the attractive things about this regulator is that is incorporates a solenoid valve which, as described above, allows it to be connected up to a pH controller. This makes the monitoring and control of a reactor much more manageable (when on, the solenoid is claimed to consume just 2 watts incidentally). Instructions are all very clear and easy to follow and it was nice to have a non-return valve included. The needle valve allows for suitably accurate adjustments. Frankly, we can’t think of anything negative to say about this item… we highly recommend it if you are looking for a solution for your own system.