Selecting Valves to Improve Process Cooling in WinemakingBy Scott Cameron, ASCO Numatics
Several types of valves are used to control cooling in the fermentation stage of industrial winemaking. The wine cooling process itself is fairly straightforward. But examining that process may highlight how valves can function as surprisingly important ingredients in improving a wide variety of cooling applications. Such examination may help users select the right valve types to help perform cooling throughout a range of industries. This report outlines a typical “wine cooler” process, and suggests tradeoffs and advantages involved in optimum valve selection.
Production in most industrial-scale wineries follows a similar pattern. Productive seasons vary according to the climate of the winemaking region involved.
The industry has several choices of valve type for thermal regulation of fermentation.
This particular winery has chosen a product favored by the industry for decades: solenoid-operated diaphragm valves. Sourced from solenoid valve leader ASCO Numatics, the valves used here are known for routinely reliable performance. They also feature low electrical consumption, and are relatively low-cost. This type is by far the commonest solution still found in wineries today.
Some wineries, particularly the highest-volume enterprises maintaining the largest (50,000 gallon/189,270 liter or more) tanks, choose to avoid diaphragm valves by using ball valves. Like other winery solutions for these applications (except diaphragm valves), ball valves are air-operated. They possess no bleed holes to open or close, thus avoiding the glycol plugging problem.
About a decade ago, valve manufacturers began applying a third to winemaking fermentation cooling applications. In some wineries, angle-body piston valves have become the preferred alternative both of the above valve types. These valves are air-operated, an allow tight shutoff in both directions.
Within the last decade, leading valve manufacturer ASCO Numatics introduced an exclusive, application-specific answer for temperature regulation systems in wine production. It was developed in France in conjunction with some of the world’s most prestigious vineyards, and has subsequently been applied by an increasing number of North American wineries. Like ball valves and angle-body piston valves, this solenoid temperature control valve is air-operated and direct-acting.
Vineyards have traditionally controlled double jackets using arrays of up to four diaphragm valves. However, to prevent backpressure from opening the valves, this arrangement requires putting four check valves in front of the four diaphragm valves. It also demands extensive wiring and fairly complicated installation work by a mechanical contractor.
By contrast, each of these new ASCO valves replaces up to four diaphragm valves and four check valves, and runs on a single air line. It also eliminates the familiar glycol plug- ging problem. This innovative, specialized valve is of course priced higher than its alter- natives. However, savings in space, ease of installation and service, and simplicity may make it ultimately the most economical choice
Used in these systems, this newer valve narrows the deadband, or range wherein heating or cooling control inputs produce no effect. Thus the winemaker can manage fermentation temperature to a fine degree, hoping to get faster fermentation and/or to produce a better quality of wine. Note that this newer valve may be the right choice in a variety of cooling applications where requirements are less straightforward than usual.
In fact, this specialized mixing valve might be considered in any industrial situation that demands maintenance of thermal media at two different temperatures for supply to one location.
Given the motivations that underlie consumption of their product, there’s a saying in the wine industry: “When everybody else’s business is good, the wine business is good. When everybody else’s business is bad? The wine business is even better.”
About ASCO Numatics
ASCO Numatics, an Emerson company, offers comprehensive fluid automation solutions, including fluid control and fluid power products, for a wide range of industry-focused applications. The ASCO Numatics product line in North America consists of more than 50,000 valves, an extensive selection of air preparation equipment, and a full line of actuation products. ASCO products include solenoid pilot valves, angle body piston valves, linear indicators, redundant control systems, and pressure sensors. The Numatics line covers valve manifolds, cylinders, grippers, filters, regulators, and lubricators.