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Sensors and software to monitor fermentation real-time

Fermentation is a well known process used to produce alcoholic beverages. EU-funded researchers developed low-cost computer-assisted technology and methods for monitoring the process with the potential to enhance wine quality while reducing production costs.
Sensors and software to monitor fermentation real-time
In the first stage of fermentation for wine production, yeast is used to convert sugars in the juice of pressed grapes, known as must, into alcohol and carbon dioxide (CO2). During the second phase of fermentation, CO2 is removed from the mixture and the wine is siphoned off.

the final quality of the wine is largely determined during the fermentation process and thus careful monitoring and feedback of process conditions and constituents are required to successfully produce high quality wine.

current measurement methods generally involve laboratory tests, introducing time delays, human error and substantial costs often difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to absorb.

european researchers in the ‘Wine fermentation in-process monitoring system’ (WIPS) project sought to develop a cost-effective, sensor-based and computer-assisted online system to evaluate the fermentation process without the use of extensive laboratory facilities.

investigators placed low-cost sensors inside the fermentation tanks to monitor temperature, pressure, CO2 flux, lactic acid content and other parameters relevant to wine producers. They integrated the sensor outputs with a multi-sensor data fusion (MSDF) system and mathematical model-based control algorithms. The result was a user-friendly monitoring and prediction system capable of predicting the time evolution of the first phase of the fermentation process.

the secondary fermentation process was monitored offline via innovative electrochemical sensors for sugar and acid measurement.

validation of the system at two test facilities enabled comparison of the performance of lactic acid sensors as well as the MSDF methodology and software algorithms.

commercialisation of the WIPS has the potential to enhance the quality of wine produced in marginal wine-producing regions, in particular by SMEs, and significantly reduce the production costs thus supporting regional economies.

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