SANTA ROSA — What’s being touted as the first truly green method for sanitizing large-capacity stainless-steel wine storage tanks without using any water or chemicals — and said to be the only one commercially available on the market today — has been installed at a Jackson Family winery in Santa Rosa.
Created by East Bay-based BlueMorph (bluemorphuv.com, 925-808-8104) and manufactured in partnership with the Tom Beard Company of Santa Rosa (tombeard.com, 707-573-3150), the new system uses advanced short-wave ultraviolet ray technology in the “C” band of UV light, called UVC, to sanitize wine storage tanks using low-pressure mercury lamps that inactivate and kill bacteria, yeast and other microorganisms.
The Tom Beard Company was also instrumental in the design of the BlueMorph UV systems and developed prototypes for the company. The new system was demonstrated to the trade and media on at a Jackson winery near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport on Sept. 16.
“Given the ongoing drought and water shortage in California, combined with the need for sustainable ways to conserve our precious natural resources, we saw an opportunity to develop and market a waterless tank cleaning system for the wine industry using ultraviolet rays that destroy the ability of microorganisms to reproduce,” said BlueMorph Co-founder and CEO Alex Farren.
He said BlueMorph’s large capacity UVT system has been tested extensively and has undergone a host of microbiological studies to ensure that all microorganisms that are potentially harmful to wine and beer are inactivated and destroyed. This is accomplished while eliminating wastewater associated with sanitation and significantly reducing occupational hazards -- and also reducing energy consumption at the same time.
The BlueMorph UVT system was issued U.S. Patent No. 9044521 in June, after four years of development and testing. The company has also received a patent in Australia and has another pending in Europe.
The partnership also develops and markets three smaller UV models to accommodate different tank volumes, There is a two-emitter model (UVT2), a four-emitter model UVT4) and an eight-emitter model (UVT8) — The unit inserts and deploy through the lower man gate and are fully automated with a touchscreen interface. A handheld system is also available, called the UV55, designed for barrels, kegs, drums and portable tanks.
The large-capacity UVT device just unveiled has a price tag of $50,000 and comes on a rolling cart about the size of a 6-foot-long outdoor barbecue grill. Its two cabinets contain the power plant, transformer, electric cable and a four-foot light probe that is inserted within a wine storage tank. The probe has four specially designed 550-watt UV lamps that deploy in an “L” shape after being placed inside Jackson’s 100,000-gallon stainless steel tanks.
After a few minutes for warm up, the device is ready to power the UV lamps, taking only about 84 minutes to sanitize the entire tank. Operating time to sanitize 55-gallon drums using the UV55 is six minutes and for breakdown kegs it only takes three minutes.
According to Julien Gervreau, senior sustainability manager for JFW, “We’re always looking for new technology to help us make the highest quality wine with the lowest environmental footprint. Water is such a sensitive issue in the regions where we do business, using a UV sanitizing system really made sense to us.”
Jackson has been working with BlueMorph for about two years to help the company develop a user case for this technology in the wine industry, while also encouraging them to make a bigger UV system.