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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.

“JFW is proud to be the company that purchased the first high capacity commercial system of its type to ever be manufactured, with No. 1 printed on the panel,” Gervreau said. “We will be testing it in an ongoing production setting over the next few months in Windsor. If this technology performs as expected, our long-range plan is to purchase additional UVTs for other JFW operations.”

Gervreau said Jackson estimates 70 percent water-saving with BlueMorph’s UVT along with a 60 percent reduction in labor and a 50 percent saving in electrical costs. This new waterless technology is predicted to save 250,000 gallons of water a year at each JFW production facility where it is used.

Three key entrepreneurs comprise the BlueMorph executive management team. Co-founder, CEO and scientist Alex Farren has diverse experience in biochemistry, analytical chemistry and environmental toxicology. He holds several U.S. and Australian patents and has multiple international (in the EU and Australia) nonprovisional patents applications pending for novel sterilization protocols and technologies in the beverage industry.

Chris Russi, BlueMorph’s co-founder and winemaker, has 21 years experience in Sonoma County’s wine industry and 17 years in vineyard management. He was head winemaker for three wineries over 13 years. He holds a combined science degree from Santa Clara University, and a viticulture and enology degree from University of California, Davis.

Noah Barekget, Ph.D., is an optical scientist with over 30 years of R&D experience developing instruments and systems for aerospace, semiconductor and bio-medical industries. He served as chief scientist for adaptive optics programs at Lockheed and director of engineering at KLA-Tencor. He holds 22 patients and 12 pending for optical systems and instrumentation. He received a Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona.

BlueMorph systems are warrantied and serviced by the Tom Beard Company. The partnership has the capacity to engineer and design custom UV sanitation units to fit unique operational needs.