Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Using Mass Flow Controllers for Better Wine Making

mass flow controllers in wine production
Mass flow controllers
(MFCs)
assist in
making better
quality wine.
Oxygen is the enemy of wine. Unfortunately, oxygen is found commonly in the air all around us. Exposure to oxygen influences wine quality, stability, and longevity. During production and bottling, limiting exposure to oxygen ensures better quality and a more consistent product. 

Nitrogen gas, because of its low solubility and ability to prevent oxygen from contacting the wine, is used widely throughout the wine industry. It is used to purge, flush, sparge, and blanket wine at its various stages of production.

Sparging is the process of injection a gas into a liquid through the use of aerators, bubblers, carbonators, diffusors or injectors. The wine industry uses sparging to inject nitrogen into wine as a means to control the wine's dissolved oxygen and CO2 content. The process of sparging is based on the application of a scientific principle (Henry's Law) which states that the solubility of a gas contained in a liquid is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas in the gaseous atmosphere in contact with the liquid.

mass flow controller for wine
Brooks SLA5800
Careful control of nitrogen is critical to controlling the oxidation processes that determine the subtle variations in wine taste and aroma.  In white wines, sparging with nitrogen is helpful to remove dissolved oxygen. However, the same nitrogen sparge may strip CO2 below desired levels and change the wine's freshness and taste. In some red wines it's important to retain a small amount of dissolved CO2, so tight control of the nitrogen sparge has to be considered.

The efficiency of sparging is determined by several variables, such as:
  • Bubble size
  • Contact time between the gas and wine
  • Temperature of the wine
  • Gas pressure
  • Flow rate of gas in relation to the flow rate of wine
mass flow controller for wine
Brooks SLAMf
The benefits of controlling the sparging processes to tighter tolerances are becoming apparent. There is a rising need for more precise flow control in sparging applications, and for products that measure the sparged gases and control the flow rates. Accurate mass flowmeters and controllers are being applied more and more.

Products such as the Brooks SLA5800 Series Mass Flow Controllers offer high accuracy over a wide range of flows and pressures, and the SLAMf Series Mass Flow Controllers & Meters provide the control, range, and environmental protection perfect for these applications.

For more information on applying mass flow controllers in wine making applications, contact:

BCE (Belilove Company-Engineers)
21060 Corsair Blvd
Hayward, CA 94545
Phone: (510) 274-1990
Fax: (510) 274-1999