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Eco-innovative maceration system based on LFHP ULTRAsound technology for WINEmaking

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ULTRAWINE (Eco-innovative maceration system based on LFHP ULTRAsound technology for WINEmaking)

Reporting period: 2015-07-01 to 2016-06-30

ULTRAWINE project has benefited from SME-Instument Phase 2 funding line from Horizon 2020, within the topic “Boosting the potential of small business for eco-innovation and a sustainable supply of raw materials”. Our invention is based on an “Eco-innovative maceration system based on ULTRA sound technology for WINEmaking”.
Maceration is a limiting stage in the winemaking process. It is a long process that takes from 4 and 10 days, which makes it expensive and grapes harvested remain excessive periods of time before processing. This fact, brings with it the possibility of raw material losses by spoilage and wine quality drop.
ULTRAWINE is a technology that allows to reach the complete maceration in a shorter period of time, 6 hours versus 4 days of current systems in a cost-effective and energy-saving way. We have developed a device that uses microwave energy (low frequency high power – LFHP-) to extract the phenolic compounds from grape skins by cavitation, which proved to be cheaper and less energy consumption than other alternatives used to accelerate grape maceration. A patent application in Spain has already been granted for ULTRAWINE (Ref: 201430342, granting date: 21/01/2015) and a PCT is in the granting process (ref: PCT/ES2015/070130, application date: 11/1/2016)
The general goal of ULTRAWINE project is to develop and optimise the manufacture, start-up and operation of a device that allows winemakers to reduce energy consumption, save time and avoid high temperatures and the input of chemicals in grape maceration. Through this innovation, ULTRAWINE has the potential to tackle several problems:
i) Carbon emissions: by the energy-saving procedure, carbon emissions will be lowered.
ii) Resource efficiency: ULTRAWINE implementation will result in less raw material losses due to deterioration or discard.
iii) Product quality: wine quality can be enhanced by avoiding possible grape spoilage and high temperature treatments.
iv) SME innovation: winemakers will benefit from ULTRAWINE, by increasing the efficiency and speed of winemaking process at an affordable cost.
During the first 12 months of the ULTRAWINE project, technical and commercial activities have been performed in parallel. We have also focused on dissemination and communication actions (workshops, attendance to conferences, practical demonstrations, etc.) to create interest among winemakers. A summary of the overall work progress is presented below:
Different experiments were performed in order to optimise the operation conditions which led to highest phenol extraction rates. Different grape varieties were subjected to ULTRAWINE process, varying operation parameters such as recirculation rate and ultrasounds power. By monitoring key properties along the overall process, the influence of the operation variables in wine quality was obtained. Based on the outcomes of the experiments, colour intensity and phenolic compounds extraction were maximised by optimising: recirculation rate, maximum operation pressure, optimal operation temperature, ultrasound frequency and treatment duration.
We have examined whether it is possible to reduce the native microbial population during winemaking, which would lead to better implantation of selected yeasts. Preliminary results showed that autochthonous microbial population in grapes and must did not decrease significantly when subjected to ULTRAWINE process at the established operation parameters. Further work is required to define best conditions which result in native microbial load decrease and high phenols extraction rate, without detriment to the wine quality and the economics of the process.
The first industrially manufactured device has been produced. The assembly line has been defined as well as the required tests to assure the proper working of the device. In addition, some improvements have been implemented: more powerful generator hardware, more intuitive control software, etc. In the following months (Q4 2016), optimal operation conditions previously obtained will be used as starting conditions in the fine-tune of the equipment in a selected winery.
Preliminary analysis of parameters related to the sensory quality of wines have been performed to date. The promising results showed that there has been an increase in colour extraction and colour stability of red wine when the ULTRAWINE prototype is used. Besides, first trials with white wine also resulted in enhanced aroma extraction. Trials will be conducted with the definitive ULTRAWINE device (improved and upgraded) the next harvest. The colour, phenolic profile and sensory characteristics of the wines will be then evaluated.
We have made significant steps towards ultrasound technology approval by the OIV. A European patent application has been filled for ULTRAWINE, as well as in Argentina (a non-PCT country).
The website of AGROVIN has been updated and a dedicated site for ULTRAWINE project has been included. The project has also been cited in several private and institutional media: website of the University of Murcia, Spanish newspapers and a magazine focused in wine sector. ULTRAWINE has also been presented in both national and international fairs and specialised congresses. ULTRAWINE has been tested in cellars located in Spain. As a result of workshops organised by Agrovin, winemakers from Portugal and United States showed interest in participating in technical trials. In order to ensure a good balance between technical expertise and marketing strategies, we have joined a coaching plan support provided by the SME-Instrument programme. Two sessions have been undertaken to date, and we found them extremely valuable to address the challenges ahead.

To sum up, in the first year of the ULTRAWINE project, we have achieved the following objectives:
• Determination of the key operation variables in ultrasonic experiments, which lead to maximise phenolic extraction, stabilization of colour, aromas extraction, etc.
• Manufacture of an improved device, defining all the steps in the assembly line.
• Targeted actions to achieve the regulation of the ULTRAWINE technology by the OIV, and protect the intellectual property, especially in large wine-producers countries (EU, USA, Argentina, Chile, etc.).
• Dissemination actions to create interest among winemakers, scientist community and general public: website updated, attendance to specialised conferences and fairs, press releases, etc.
• Organization of workshops and in-situ demonstrations in cellars.
• Participation of personnel involved in the project in coaching sessions provided by the SME-Instrument programme.
Due to the increasing importance of phenolic compounds in the organoleptic characteristics of the wine, in the last years, a great effort has been made to develop different techniques to enhance the extraction of these compounds during the winemaking process. The main alternatives used to accelerate extraction of phenolic compounds from the grape peels in winemaking process are thermovinication, and flash-deténté. However they present limitations.
In the thermovinication, due to high temperature, this method significantly affects the must quality and the resultant wines are of inferior quality.
The progress beyond the state of the art that the ULTRAWINE device has provided are that Ultrawine is a time-saving process, it is as well a low temperature process with low energy consumption. Concerning the prices of the equipment it is lower than the average of its competitors. And finally, with this process we can obtain a high quality wine expressing a great phenolic profile.
Ultrawine final device