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Why gas detection is needed in wineries

If you have read any of our previous blogs on carbon dioxide (CO2), you will have noticed we recommend the use of gas detection in the production of beer in establishments such as pubs and breweries. However, these aren’t the only places that require CO2 monitoring, as wineries do too.

During the fermentation process of winemaking, wine grape sugar is metabolised by yeast which converts the sugar into ethanol (alcohol) and CO2, which is a by-product.

The concentration of CO2 released during fermentation can vary and accumulate in areas such as tank rooms and cellars.

CO2 is a gas which occurs naturally in the atmosphere at a rate of 400 parts per million (ppm), which is only 0.04%. It is is odourless, colourless and tasteless, making it hard to detect when the level increases.

An increase of CO2 can cause physiological effects to the body including deeper breathing, reduced hearing, headaches, and an increase in blood pressure and pulse rate.

Once it reaches above 10%, CO2 exposure can lead to unconsciousness, asphyxiation and ultimately death.

Unfortunately there have been incidents in the past where winemakers have been exposed to high levels of CO2, leading to fatal results.

In 2014, a woman who was a wine specialist at a cellar in Spain was stirring wine while it was fermenting to give it a richer, fuller body and more depth of flavours.

She became intoxicated by the fermentation fumes, causing her to lose her balance and fall into a vat of wine, where she drowned.

In 2008, two amateur French winemakers died after suffocating from CO2 fumes released from the grapes they were treading with their bare feet. Despite resuscitation efforts, the two men did not regain consciousness.

Currently OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and EH40 have set an exposure limit of 5,000ppm (0.5%) CO2 over an eight-hour period.

OSHA also state a short term exposure limit of 30,000ppm (3%) CO2 over a 10-minute period, whilst the EH40 employ a short-term 15-minute exposure limit of 15,000ppm (1.5%) CO2.

The best way to monitor the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is with a gas monitoring system.

Analox offer the Ax60, a wall mountable CO2 detector, designed specifically for the hospitality industry, such as wineries and pub cellars.

The Ax60 carbon dioxide monitor

The Ax60 carbon dioxide monitor

The Ax60 allows multiple placement of alarm and sensor units which are connected to a central display. Each alarm unit not only has an audible sounder but also utilises a high-intensity LED strobe light – perfect for warning of danger in noisy environments.

The Ax60 gives warning of an increase in CO2 by offering three levels of alarm. A low alarm is triggered by 15,000 ppm (1.5%) CO2; a high alarm by 30,000 ppm (3%) CO2; and a time-weighted average (TWA) alarm of 5000 ppm (0.5%) CO2 over the previous eight hours (average exposure measurement).

The Ax60 has also been shortlisted by The S-Lab Awards for Excellence in Laboratory Design, Management and Operation.

Update: The Ax60 has now been replaced by the Ax60+, a innovative, modular gas detection unit. Visit our website to find out more.

Author: Araminta Hartley

Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.

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