Winery in a spin with clean water
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.