Automation for All Sizes
Porto Protocol members may recall having been previously introduced to the merits of pulse cooling as identified in the February, 2021 newsletter article published by Treasury Wine Estates (Link). TWE has done a great job with their automation and energy savings objectives, though many producers may not be able to develop their own solutions capable of reducing energy consumption and automating operations. Knowing this, California based VinWizard has created an automation platform and solution set for wineries which includes pulse cooling among several other energy and water saving capabilities. Oftentimes thought to be off limits due to cost and complexity, automating winery operations has typically been dismissed outright, though further investigation will show VinWizard can provide all the benefits of traditional automation without the aforementioned drawbacks. While VinWizard is not new, having automated approximately 200 wineries and breweries across five continents over the past 25 years, the technology is likely unknown to Porto Protocol members, though perhaps that changes today.
As referenced in TWE’s prior article, UC Davis Professor Roger Boulton has suggested 75% of total energy consumption in wineries is owed to temperature control, specifically cooling. Accordingly, temperature management is a primary target of energy conscious producers seeking to save money and reduce their carbon footprint. To support producers in sustainability efforts, VinWizard’s technology streamlines winery operations while optimizing and minimizing energy consumption involved in temperature control. VinWizard’s customer testimonials provide ample evidence of energy savings though to establish the benefit more firmly, VinWizard partnered with New Zealand’s Bragato Research Institute. After utilizing VinWizard’s Pulse Cooling capability, the institute published their findings on their WEBSITE. At the conclusion of the study, a 30% reduction in cooling energy consumption was observed and VinWizard is confident upwards of 50% energy reduction is achievable. With Portugal being one of the most expensive energy markets, it makes financial sense to seek means of reduction in addition to pursuing sustainability goals.
Source: Global Petrol Prices website via Statista website (Link)
While simple in concept to achieve, Pulse Cooling has been a topic of conversation for decades, though few have put it into practice. The key to Pulse Cooling success is the achieving desired residency time the thermal transfer media (i.e. glycol) has in the tank jacket. With greater “contact” time between product and glycol, thermal transfer trends towards an equilibrium which indicates maximum cooling work has concluded. Once this point is reached, the entire volume of glycol in the cooling jacket must be replaced, with cold glycol pushing warm-er glycol out of the jacket and back to the refrigeration plant.
The benefits of Pulse Cooling include:
1) reduced glycol circulation pump use
2) removing non-value added “work” from the refrigerant compressor and
3) improved compressor efficiency given warmer return glycol.
Now that the process and benefits are known, how is Pulse Cooling achieved in the typical winery environment?
The 100% manual version would involve cellar crew members opening and closing glycol valves at the tank jacket at some established interval. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a fully automated solution which includes cooling jacket in-let and out-let temperature probes and a PLC computing the optimum residency time utilizing various laws of thermodynamics. A middle approach which achieves a vast majority of the benefit while not relying on brute force or super-engineering is to establish a pre-determined time interval to input into VinWizard’s Pulse Cooling function. This time interval can be computed as simply as recording the time from cooling jacket in-let valve opening until the jacket out-let glycol return pipe registers a temperature drop noticeable to the touch. Not an exact science and the timing for valve activation will need to be determined for each tank jacket size, though effective at enabling Pulse Cooling and reducing energy consumption, nonetheless. Should the winery want to invest in the multiple temperature probes, VinWizard can automate the Pulse Cooling process and optimize energy savings, however given the cost implications, a timed approach is quite sensible as well.
A force multiplier for Pulse Cooling and dropping product temperature is contemporaneous tank mixing while Pulse Cooling, breaking down thermal gradients which tend to form inside the tank when cold product stops mixing with warmer product towards the middle of the tank. Impeller tank mixers or a simple low flow circulation loop will typically do the trick, both of which can be automated as well through VinWizard.
Beyond Pulse Cooling, VinWizard’s automation allows customers to load schedule energy usage to avoid peak energy demand periods, a capability which alone saves [yellow tail] winery in Australia approximately $1MM AUD annually. By combing tank temperature control automation with refrigeration plant control, VinWizard can ensure only the necessary amount of work is performed and minimize wasted efforts. Examples of this integration include shutting down glycol circulation loop pumps when no cooling is called for, adjusting compressor settings to match cellar requirements, and managing compressor variable frequency drives. Combine these capabilities and a customer can expect to realize significant savings without large capital outlays.
Going beyond energy savings, VinWizard’s pumpover and liquid movement automation can reduce sources of water waste. A Napa Valley luxury producer operating at a relatively small scale has estimated they save upwards of 190,000 gallons of water each year simply by taking sanitation out of the hands of seasonal labor. With a closed-loop pumpover set up, VinWizard can fine tune fermentation and cap management without human intervention. Benefits extend further when combined with VinWizard’s proprietary probes including multi-level temperature detection, real time Brix monitoring, and ongoing measurement of RedOx potential during active ferment. VinWizard probes have also been put to the test by the Bragato Research Institute with details located HERE
In summation, if there is an on/off switch, field sensor, measured data point, or critical process in the winery, VinWizard can automate the data acquisition and control resulting operations to manage for desired outcomes. While improved wine quality is a typical outcome, core input savings and increased sustainability also result.
An Article By Kelly Graves WinWizard