Win­ery in a spin with clean wa­ter

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A Kiwi de­signed fil­tra­tion sys­tem that elim­i­nates wastew­a­ter could save New Zealand winer­ies thou­sands of dol­lars a year.

The waste man­age­ment process cre­ated by Scott Biotech­nolo­gies with Matt El­rick of wine­maker Al­lan Scott is de­signed to fil­ter the win­ery’s waste flu­ids, al­low­ing the clean, odour­less by-prod­uct to be reused as ir­ri­ga­tion for the vines.

El­rick says the pro­to­type was cre­ated to deal with the win­ery’s wastew­a­ter af­ter grow­ing frus­tra­tion with tra­di­tional wastew­a­ter dis­posal meth­ods, which were ex­pen­sive, cre­ated pond­ing, and as­so­ci­ated is­sues.

He says winer­ies through­out New Zealand have al­ready tried and failed to come up with a bet­ter sys­tem for deal­ing with wastew­a­ter at peak times, but many sim­ply re­vert back to the sim­ple sep­tic tank sys­tem.

“With a tra­di­tional tank sys­tem, wastew­a­ter set­tles in a tank, over­flows into the next tank, set­tles there then over­flows into the next tank,” says El­rick.

“This means at har­vest there of­ten isn’t enough set­tling time for solids to set­tle. Nu­tri­ents tend to pass through the sys­tems faster than it can to be treated, that means you end up with a pretty bad smell.”

The new sys­tem that El­rick helped de­sign, means wastew­a­ter is pumped through a spin sep­a­ra­tor that uses a can­non to cre­ate a cen­trifu­gal force and al­low clean wa­ter to be ejected out of the top. Sludge is forced out of the bot­tom.

El­rick says: “The clear wa­ter goes di­rect to a dis­charge tank where it is fur­ther fil­tered and dis­charged via drip ir­ri­ga­tion line onto the vine­yard.

“The re­main­ing sludge waste solids go through a se­ries of cham­bers where it can be eas­ily scat­tered around the vine­yard to re­lease its nu­tri­ents.”

El­rick be­lieves the tech­nol­ogy has sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial for winer­ies, other in­dus­tries that pro­duce wastew­a­ter - in­clud­ing the dairy in­dus­try – and the ex­port mar­ket.

It is ca­pa­ble of rapidly pro­cess­ing the waste prod­uct from a win­ery’s en­tire har­vest with­out any de­lay or loss of pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency.

“Ex­cess waste pro­duc­tion is a huge is­sue for New Zealand’s hor­ti­cul­tural and agri­cul­tural in­dus­tries,” says El­rick. “In ad­di­tion to mak­ing us more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, this cost re­duc­tion tech­nol­ogy will also make us more com­pet­i­tive in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“Es­sen­tially we are us­ing our win­ery wash-downs to cre­ate a re­us­able re­source, which is re­duc­ing the amount of wa­ter drawn from the bore to ir­ri­gate our vine­yard.”

The in­tro­duc­tion of the wastew­a­ter sys­tem is the lat­est in a se­ries of en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity ini­tia­tives in­tro­duced by the win­ery de­signed to re­duce its car­bon foot­print.

These eco-friendly strate­gies in­clude re­cy­cling of card­board and plas­tics as well as crush­ing grass for use in path­ways and drives.

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