Valve Selection in Fermentation Processes

by , | Jan 8, 2021 | Food & Beverage

At the Emerson Exchange Virtual Series, Emerson’s Amit Patel presented on bringing automation and valve selection to beverage fermentation applications. Here is his presentation abstract:

The production of alcoholic beverages can be dated back as far as 7000BC. At its core, the production has remained relatively the same. However, the demand and preference of alcoholic beverage styles has grown significantly around the world; as a result the equipment and scale of production has evolved. Today, small-town to global scale producers are challenged to meet these growing consumer demands while also maintaining the highest levels of quality and taste. The key lies in the fermentation process, which requires precise control to ensure quality, consistency and taste. In this session, we’ll explore how one of the largest wine producers in North America was able to optimize their fermentation setup and production process through valve selection and automation.

Amit opened with the temperature control basics required for most alcohol fermentation processes. Temperature affects safety, quality, taste and shelf life of fermented products.

Jacketed tanks for alcoholic fermentationJacketed tanks are used in wine, beer and spirits fermentation. Sugar is converted by yeast into alcohol, carbon dioxide and heat. Heat is a catalyst in how fast this fermentation occurs. Regulating the temperature affects the fermentation time, taste and aromatics of these alcoholic beverages.

These jacketed tanks can provide heating and/or cooling based on what is being fermented. Propylene glycol or ammonia is often used as the heat transfer medium. Sensors are used to measure level, temperature, brix (sugar level), and flow rate.

Amit showed several types of jacketed tanks to handle different fermentation applications.

He shared common challenges in these jacketed tank systems.

Amit discussed a case study of an Oregon Pinot Noir wine producer. They used 1-zone and 2-zone heating and cooling jacketed tanks. The facility was upgrading to 750 temperature zone production process. Valves are needed to regulate the flow of glycol to control the temperature for optimum fermentation.

Solenoid, ball and piston valves are typically used in fermentation processes. He noted that there is no best option—it depends on the requirements and scale of operation.

The type of jacketed tank determines the number of valve ports required.

For the winery’s application, they used an ASCO valve system, the AVENTICS G3 electronic fieldbus platform for the pilot valves with electronics and I/O. It integrates communication interfaces to pneumatic valve system with input/output (I/O) capabilities.

Visit the Food & Beverage section on for more on these and other instrumentation and automation technologies to optimize alcoholic beverage production operations.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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