Vapor Steam Cleaning Part of The Science of Safe Wine and Barrel Sanitation

Vapor Steam CleanerAmericans love wine. According to the Wine Institute, reds and whites consumed across the United States totaled 893 million gallons in 2014 — that’s an average of 2.80 gallons per person, per year. But it takes more than good grapes and a skilled vintner to ensure both traditional and cutting-edge wine blends are safe for human consumption: Here’s a quick look at the science of safe wine.

Risky Business

There are a number of factors which may impact the enjoyment and safety of wine. Yeast — specifically brettanomyces — is a common problem, since the production and bottling of wine creates the ideal growth environment. While some “brett” characteristics are desirable and can make wines seem older than they are, growth is hard to control and too much of this year’s creates an undesirable “wine fault”. Volatile acidity (VA) is also a problem; if the concentration of steam distillable compounds such as acetic, lactic, formic or propionic acids exceeds 1.2g/l for red wine or 1.1g/l for white they cannot legally be sold in the United States and will develop a unique — and unpleasant — smell.

Barrels

To ensure wine is both safe to drink and contains only the desired characteristics, one key area of concern for winemakers is barrel sanitation. This applies to unused barrels, those being stored after fermentation is complete and those being re-used for a new batch of wine. While there’s no standard barrel cleaning procedure, most vintners use similar techniques. As noted by Wines and Vines, for example, Jean Hoefliger of Alpha Omega winery starts with a high-pressure hot water rinse followed by a combination of cold and ozonated water. Dave Ramey of Matanzas Creek, meanwhile, is moving toward an overnight, cold-water soak followed by 2 seconds of SO2 gas. Unused barrels are then re-sulfured every six weeks.

There’s also emerging interest in techniques such as steam cleaning, which provide the same kind of high heat as hot water rinses along with the potential for high-pressure if the barrel’s bunghole is plugged during the process. Once the steam dislodged sticky tartrates and other biological films, winemakers can follow up with a cold water or ozone rinse.

Bottles

The process of bottling also comes with the risk of contamination. With approximately half of all bottles leaving the line with yeast still present Brett blooms can occur after just six months of storage. To limit the chance of microbial contamination it’s essential for winemakers to make any chemical additions such as sulfur dioxide, potassium sorbate, gums or sugar at least 24 hours before bottling to give these compounds time to stabilize. Physical cleaning of each bottle is critical, as is regular removal and steam-cleaning of valves and hose lines to limit biofilm growth. In addition, regular maintenance of the surrounding area — such as floors, walls, and drains — helps maintain an aseptic and hygienic bottling environment.

Wineries are becoming commonplace in the United States as Americans tip back both robust reds and sparkling whites. This growing industry, however, comes with a growing need: Effective barrel and bottle maintenance to deliver a high-quality quaff every time.

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Ammonia Risky Refrigerant? Leak Leaves One Dead in Boston

Ammonia as a Refrigerant Clean Up In the last five years, anhydrous ammonia has become the go-to refrigerant for many companies — it’s cost-effective, efficient and free of the environmental impacts associated with CFCs and HCFCs.

Despite its many benefits, however, businesses must still treat this colorless gas with respect: Prolonged or large-volume exposure can result in serious injury or even death. That’s the unfortunate situation facing a Boston-area seafood warehouse after a 5000 pound ammonia leak occurred, killed one worker and forced a shelter-in-place order from Boston Police. Here’s what went wrong.

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Ammonia Basics

The switch to Ammonia as a refrigerant makes sense: It’s 3-10 percent more efficient than CFCs, has a global warming potential of zero and building ammoina-based systems costs 10-20 percent less than a comparable CFC solution thanks to narrow-diameter piping. Gaseous ammonia has a distinctive smell which is detectable even at low concentrations and is lighter than air ,meaning it will rise and dissipate in the atmosphere.

Nonetheless, ammonia comes with a number of serious health risks. In high concentrations it can irritate or burn skin and leave permanent scarring and may also cause permanent blindness. If inhaled, ammonia not only causes severe throat and nose irritation but also a life-threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs.

Emerging Problems?

On March 23rd, police and fire crews responded to an emergency at the Stavis Seafoods Warehouse — an ammonia breach in progress which dumped more than 5300 pounds of gas into the facility. For three hours emergency crews worked to shut off the main valve and restore neighborhood safety; despite their efforts, one worker was killed by the leak.

So what happened? According to news reports, problematic procedures may be to blame. For example, the plant was fined several years ago by OHSA for infractions related to its refrigeration system — workers did not receive annual emergency response training, no written respiratory protection plan was in place and equipment was not properly inspected.

Here’s the takeway: Compared to CFCs and HCFCs, ammonia is a safe and efficient alternative. But “safe” is relative — to ensure worker safety and regulatory compliance, regular inspections combined with clear emergency response plans are required. The same is true for any HVAC or refrigeration system; while deferred maintenance may not seem risky if all components are working as intended it takes only a single, sudden failure to property and lives in danger. Ongoing, scheduled evaluations and preemptive maintenance are critical for any ammonia storage solution — lax procedures damage more than the bottom line.

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Fire With Fire: Scientists Using Bacteria to Fight Bad Food

Fire-With-FireDespite advances in food manufacturing, handling and equipment policies, foodborne illness remains a critical concern for producers. According to the CDC, in fact, approximately 1 in 6 — 48 million — Americans are made sick by foodborne diseases each year. Of these, more than 100,000 are hospitalized and 3000 don’t survive. Bottom line? Companies need ways to take the fight to bad food; here’s a look at two of the most promising battle fronts.

Plant Probiotics

At the University of Delaware, researchers are investigating a way to make food-bearing plants more resistant to human-harmful strains of bacteria. Their solution? A kind of “plant probiotic”, a bacterial strain which is completely harmless to humans but helps plants fend off pathogens such as listeria. Known as strain UD1022, the bacteria has demonstrated the ability to reduce the persistence of listeria within three days of application by regulating the behavior of plant stomata — which open and close as plants breathe and give off water. In addition, initial testing suggests that the regulation of stomata could help increase the longevity of plants by causing them to lose less water over time. Ideally, the new bacteria will prevent high-risk bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella from “hiding” in plants, even after they’ve been thoroughly washed.

Laser Focus

In China, meanwhile, scientists at Zhejiang Normal University along with researchers from Umea University in Sweden are looking at another way to detect foodborne pathogens: Lasers. Their work focuses on the risks of using food past “best before” dates and the possibility that food may spoil long before these dates pass, even if the packaging is intact. Why? Because the factors driving bacteria growth vary from package to package and product to product, making “best before” and “use by” dates a law-of-averages guessing game. Their new tool uses optical spectrometry to detect the presence of specific gases given off by bacterial growth — such as carbon dioxide — through glass or plastic packaging. Ideally, the laser solution could help both food manufacturers and medical companies ensure that any bacterial-prone product is safe for consumption before being sold.

Firm Foundation

Of course, custom bacteria and laser tools make little difference if production lines don’t keep up their end of the bargain and introduce foodborne illnesses during the manufacturing or packaging process. As a result, it’s a combination of high-tech advances and solid best practices — such as the installation of dry vapor belt cleaning systems or regular use of heavy-duty vapor steam cleaners — which deliver ideal process results. The end goal? From farm to factory to franchise, food that’s bacteria-free, healthy and high-quality.

Next Steps

Coil Cleaner Market Trends: Mastering Preventive Maintenance Brings New Business

Dirt is a fact of life. Soil, pollen, dust and other debris conspire to make any HVAC installation less efficient over time; the nature of air and moisture transfer between condensing and evaporating systems make dirty coils an inevitable consequence of running HVAC. As noted by Contracting Business, however, a little dirt goes a long way when it comes to device operating costs and lifespans. What’s more, new markets are opening for companies able to guarantee clean coils and timely maintenance.

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Numbers Game: Plant Pollution And Zero Liquid Discharge

Numbers Game Plant Pollution And Zero Liquid DischargePower requires water—whether generated through coal-fired or biomass plants, or consumed by manufacturing facilities. Cooling towers are a prime example—in many cases they utilize more than 90 percent of a plant’s water supply. And despite best efforts, the resulting “blowdown” is often dumped after three or four cycles, creating both efficiency and pollution problems. As noted by Water World, however, the rise of effective Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) technologies may now make it possible to create a closed system, reduce costs and ultimately improve environmental conditions.

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