Our customer is a leader in producing luxury wines of various varietals. A fundamental key to making a repeatable quality of wine at a consistent production rate is to ferment the wine at a defined and steady temperature. To do this most winemakers rely on the natural heat of fermentation and steady ambient temperatures. The issue is that harvest, crush, and fermentation can span for weeks which means the day and night ambient temperatures are likely to fluctuate resulting in an inconsistent quality of fermentation, thus, inconsistent quality of wine. Our customer needed a method of controlling the temperature around the fermentation tanks to allow the winemakers to control the fermentation process.
When it comes to designing and installing any type of heating system, energy efficiency is always of upmost importance. Tanks and piping that have been installed outdoors are subject to low evening temperatures that will take heat away from uninsulated surfaces resulting in lost energy. The greater the quantity of fermentation tanks, the greater the potential for heat loss which will ultimately lead to higher plant operation costs. The temperature control solution must not only be economical and low operating costs but energy efficient as well.
The method of temperature control must allow our customer’s winemakers to have the ability to change the fermentation temperatures as needed to control the quality of wine. And the fermentation temperature required may be different from tank to tank. At the same time, the temperature change must be slow and methodical as to not fluctuate the wine temperature too quickly which could affect the yeast activity.
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Our customer partnered with Placer Process Systems to design and install a system that would control the outer surface temperature of each fermentation tank individually. The most cost effective and energy efficient solution was to install a water circulation system that would provide warm water to the jacket of each fermentation tank. The fermentation temperature of each tank could be controlled by regulating the flow of warm water thru the use of a shutoff valve to maintain a temperature setpoint.
The warm water circulation system comprised of a circulation pump, plate and frame heat exchanger, and circulation tank. The warm water is pumped to a valve manifold which allowed our customer’s operations to control the flow of water to various tank farm zones as needed. A circulation valve bypasses excess flow back to the circulation tank and automatically modulates based on warm water usage.
The concept of controlling the fermentation temperature thru the use of warm water within the jacket of the fermentation tank has enabled our customer to produce wine with a recipe rather than relying on the heat of fermentation and ambient temperature to determine the quality of wine. By controlling the fermentation temperature, the duration of fermentation can be controlled which improved wine making efficiency and allowed for a faster tank turn around. As wine production is limited to the number and capacity of the fermentation tanks, increasing the tank turn around rate has allowed our customer to produce more wine at a higher quality with the existing storage capacity.