Title:
Wine must temperature control apparatus
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Wine must in a standard primary fermentation tote may be heated or chilled by circulating fluid through a heat exchanger that is submersed in the must and supported by a frame. Quick connect couplings allow for rapid connection of the heat exchanger to a fluid source, and allow the unit to be quickly transferred from one tote to another. The temperature of the fluid may be controlled to quickly control the temperature of the must. An impeller shaft is contained within the coiled heat exchanger and is rotated by a motor. Rotation of the impellers causes continuous, gentle circulation of the must, increasing the rate of temperature change and disrupting the cap and preventing cap formation.



Inventors:
Jungwirth, Curtis A. (Newberg, OR, US)
Application Number:
10/358824
Publication Date:
08/05/2004
Filing Date:
02/03/2003
Assignee:
JUNGWIRTH CURTIS A.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
165/58
International Classes:
C12G1/028; F28D1/02; F28F13/12; (IPC1-7): F24H3/00; F25B29/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
ALI, MOHAMMAD M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
IPSOLON LLP (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
1. Apparatus for modifying the temperature of wine must contained in a tote, comprising: a support frame; a heat exchanger defined by a continuous length of tubing formed into a coil, said coil defining a cylinder and said tubing having a first end defining a fluid inlet and a second end defining a fluid outlet, and said coil is defined by plural turns of said tubing wherein the tubing at any position in said coil is separated from said tubing in any adjacent position in said coil, and wherein said heat exchanger is connected to said frame such that said coil depends from said frame; a motor mounted to said frame such that an output shaft of said motor is axially aligned with the longitudinal axis through said cylinder; and a shaft mounted on said output shaft and having at least one impeller mounted thereon in the cylinder.

2. The apparatus according to claim 1 including a fluid source connected to the fluid inlet.

3. The apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the fluid source comprises a heated fluid.

4. The apparatus according to claim 2 wherein the fluid source comprises a cooled fluid.

5. The apparatus according to claim 1 including a U shaped bracket having first and second opposite downwardly extending arms, one end of the first arm connected to said support frame and one end of the second arm connected to said support frame, the opposite ends of said first and second arms interconnected with an interconnecting member, and wherein said U shaped bracket is connected to and supports said coil.

6. The apparatus according to claim 5 wherein an end of said shaft is journalled to said interconnecting member.

7. The apparatus according to claim 1 including three impellers mounted on said shaft.

8. The apparatus according to claim 7 wherein at least two of said three impellers are of different sizes.

9. The apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said motor rotates at a rotational speed of about 50 rpm.

10. A wine must tote and wine must temperature controller combination, comprising: a wine tote for holding a quantity of wine must; a wine must temperature controller defined by a heat exchanger comprising a continuous length of tubing formed into a coil so that the coil defines a cylinder, said tubing having a fluid inlet and a fluid outlet, and said heat exchanger defined by plural spiraling rotations of said tubing wherein the tubing at any position in said coil is spaced apart from the tubing in any adjacent position in said coil, a frame for supporting said heat exchanger such that the coil is at least partially immersed in the wine must; a source of fluid connected to the inlet; and a plumbing connection on said outlet defining a fluid outlet path from said outlet.

11. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 10 further including a motor mounted to the frame and having a shaft connected to an output drive of said motor such that said shaft extends axially in the cylinder, and wherein at least one impeller is mounted to said shaft in a position such that said impeller is at least partially immersed in the wine must.

12. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 10 including a U shaped bracket having first and second opposite downwardly extending arms, one end of the first arm connected to said support frame and one end of the second arm connected to said support frame, the opposite ends of said first and second arms interconnected with an interconnecting member, and wherein said U shaped bracket is connected to and supports said coil.

13. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 12 wherein an end of said shaft is journalled to said interconnecting member.

14. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 13 including three impellers mounted on said shaft.

15. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 14 wherein at least one of said three impellers is of a different size from the other two.

16. A wine must tote and wine must temperature controller combination, comprising: a wine tote for holding a quantity of wine must; a wine must temperature controller defined by a heat exchanger coil comprising a length of tubing formed into a coiled cylinder, said tubing defining a inlet and an outlet, and said coiled cylinder having plural spiral rotations of said tubing where the tubing in said spiral is spaced apart such that there is an opening between the tubing in the spiral rotations thereof; a frame for supporting said heat exchanger such that the coil is at least partially immersed in the wine must; a motor mounted to the frame and having a shaft connected to an output drive of said motor such that said shaft extends into the cylinder, and wherein at least one impeller is mounted to said shaft; a source of fluid connected to the inlet.

17. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 16 including heat exchanger coil support means for supporting and stabilizing said coil and for attaching said coil to said frame.

18. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 17 wherein said heat exchanger coil support means comprises a U shaped bracket having first and second opposite downwardly extending arms, one end of the first arm connected to said support frame and one end of the second arm connected to said support frame, the opposite ends of said first and second arms interconnected with an interconnecting member, and wherein said U shaped bracket is connected to and supports said coil.

19. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 18 in which said U shaped bracket prevents relative movement between said frame and said coil.

20. The tote and temperature controller combination of claim 16 including three impellers mounted on said shaft, two of said impellers being of a larger diameter than the third.

Description:

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0001] This invention relates to equipment for use in making wine, and more particularly, to cooling and heating apparatus for regulating and controlling the temperature of wine must.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] During the initial stages of winemaking the grapes are crushed into a mixture of liquid juice and solids, which includes the skins, pulp and seeds. This combination is often called must. After crushing, the wine must is typically transferred into totes where primary fermentation is carried out. There are many sizes and shapes of such totes, but one commonly used tote is about 4 feet square by about 4 feet deep. As fermentation begins, solids in the must, such as skins and pulp and other particles are carried toward the surface of the must, partly due to the production of gas during fermentation, and partly due to buoyancy. Regardless of the reasons why the solids migrate toward the surface, they typically coalesce into a layer on the surface that is called a cap. Relatively more dense particles such as seeds and the like typically sink to the bottom of the tote, though even relatively heavy particles may be brought to the surface and caught in the cap by the fermentation process.

[0003] It is important to control the temperature of the must during the primary fermentation process because the temperature has an impact on the finished wine. Most wineries do not use temperature controlled storage buildings for storing must totes. As such, many primary fermentation totes are held in storage facilities that are subject to ambient air temperature, including fluctuations in the temperature. Air temperature fluctuation can result in temperature fluctuation of the must, which is undesirable since the temperature of the must directly influences the rate of fermentation and may influence the finished wine. Another reason why proper control of the temperature of the must is important is to help minimize the chances of off-fermentations, which can destroy a wine.

[0004] It can be difficult to control the temperature of the must since there is a relatively large volume of must in each tote. Because the temperature of the system can vary within a tote, stirring is necessary to keep the temperature profile homogeneous. Adding to the difficulty of controlling the temperature of the must is the cap, which forms a semi-solid layer on the surface of the liquid that has a direct influence on the temperature of the liquid below the cap. Many wineries manually disrupt the cap on a regular basis and stir the must in an attempt to control the temperature and fermentation. This is obviously a time consuming, labor-intensive process since there are often many totes in a winery, and ideally they should be stirred with regular frequency. Moreover, even though stirring the must does tend to homogenize the temperature throughout the tote, it does little to control or change the temperature.

[0005] Some stainless steel totes are provided with jacketed sidewalls through which fluid may be circulated—cool liquid to chill the contents of the tote and warm liquid heat the contents. However, in a standard tote the rate of heat transfer into the liquid from a surrounding wall is quite low—the surface to volume ratio is obviously quite low. Moreover, mechanical stirring does not increase heat transfer appreciably. As such, such processes tend to be an inefficient way to control and change the temperature of the must.

[0006] One commercially available solution for controlling the temperature of wine must relies upon vertical plates that are inserted into the totes in a side-by-side fashion. Liquid may be circulated through the plates to either chill or heat the must as the case may be. While such plates increase the surface area for heat transfer and thus increase the efficiency of the chilling/heating process, the presence of the plates decreases the ability to agitate the must in the tote, and can make it difficult to disrupt the cap and stir the solids into solution.

[0007] There is a need therefore for a reliable, effective and efficient apparatus to control the temperature of wine must.

SUMMARY

[0008] Wine must in a primary fermentation tote may be heated or cooled by circulating fluid through a heat exchanger that is submersed in the must and supported by a frame. Couplings allow for connection of the heat exchanger to a fluid source. The temperature of the fluid may be controlled to quickly control the temperature of the must. An impeller shaft is contained within the coiled heat exchanger and is rotated by a motor mounted on the frame. Rotation of the impellers causes continuous, gentle circulation of the must, increasing the rate of temperature change, disrupting the cap and preventing cap formation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0009] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a wine must temperature control apparatus according to the present invention suspended in a standard wine must tote, illustrating the tote with the walls partially cut away to expose the interior of the tote.

[0010] FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of the apparatus shown in FIG. 1. with one sidewall of the tote removed to expose the interior thereof and the wine must temperature control apparatus.

[0011] FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the impeller shaft and impellers.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

[0012] With reference to FIG. 1, a wine heating and chilling apparatus according to the present invention is shown generally at 10. Heating and chilling apparatus 10 comprises, generally, a rectangular frame 12 that spans and rests on the upper edges 14 of a wine must tote 16. Frame 12 supports a tubular coil heat exchanger assembly 18 (referred to hereinafter as coil 18) such that the coil is suspended below the frame and into the tote interior, as shown. Tote 16 is a standard tote, which typically is about 4 feet square by about 4 feet deep. Totes used for wine must are often made of a durable plastic material such as a polyethylene. It will be understood that the tote 16 illustrated in the figures is for purposes of detailing the invention, and that apparatus 10 may be used with any type of tote, tank, or container of whatever description used to hold wine must.

[0013] Frame 12 is a rectangular member comprising parallel side struts 13 and 15, the ends of which are interconnected with connecting struts 17. The struts are preferably formed of aluminum, but may be fabricated from any appropriate material such stainless steel, and the frame is sized so that the frame spans the opening into the tote 16 and is supported on upper edges 14 of the tote 16 as illustrated. Assuming that the tote 16 is as standard tote similar to the one described above—about 4 feet across—the frame 12 is preferably about 5 feet across, measured between connecting struts 17. A coil frame support member 20 is attached to and depends downwardly from side struts 13 and 15 of frame 12, respectively, and as detailed below, supports the coil 18. As best illustrated in FIG. 2, coil frame support member 20 is a generally U shaped bracket member that has opposed downwardly extending arms 22, one attached to side strut 13 and the other attached to side strut 17. The lower ends of the arms are interconnected with a lower support bar 24. With continuing reference to FIG. 2, frame member 20 supports coil 18 such that the lowermost turn of the coil rests on lower support bar 24 and such that the entire coil assembly is suspended above the floor of the tote, which is given reference number 19.

[0014] Directional words used herein such as downwardly and upwardly are used with reference to the ground plane, which for definitional purposes may be assumed to be substantially parallel to the floor 19 of tote 16.

[0015] A motor support plate 26 extends between and is connected to frame struts 13 and 15 and supports a motor 28, which preferably is an electric motor having a rotational speed of about 50 rpms. Motor 28 may be of any appropriate type and is shown in the figures with an on/off switch 30. If an electric motor is used a power source must of course be provided, although none is shown in the drawings. A shaft hole (not visible in the drawings) is formed in support plate 26 and motor 28 is mounted to the support plate in a position such that the output shaft of the motor is centered through the hole. The output shaft of motor 28 is connected to an impeller shaft 32, which as best seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, includes three impeller blades, labeled 34, 36 and 38, respectively. Motor 28 is mounted on support plate 26 such that impeller shaft 32 extends axially down the longitudinal center axis of the cylinder defined by coil 18. The lowermost end of impeller shaft 32 is fitted with a bearing 40 that is connected to bottom support arm 24 of support member 20. In the preferred embodiment, the uppermost and middle impellers, 34 and 36 respectively, are relatively larger than the lowermost impeller 38. As detailed below, this arrangement assists in facilitating gentle circulation of the must and disruption of the cap, although all of the impellers may be of the same size. And although in a preferred embodiment the impeller shaft has multiple impellers mounted on it, adequate circulation may be accomplished with one impeller.

[0016] Turning now to the coil heat exchanger 18, the heat-exchanging surface is preferably defined by a continuous length of tubing 42, the first end of which defines a fluid inlet 44 and the second end of which defines a fluid outlet 46. Tubing 42 at inlet 44 and at outlet 46 are adapted to be quickly and easily connected to additional tubing for supplying heating/cooling fluid into and out of coil 18. For example, the tubing at inlet 44 and outlet 46 may be threaded as shown in the figures, and/or may be fitted with quick-connect couplings. Coil 18 is fabricated so that the tubing 42 in each turn of the coil is separated or spaced apart from the tubing 42 in the next adjacent turn, thereby allowing wine must to freely flow between turns of the coil and preventing particulate matter in the must from becoming clogged between the coils. The material used for tubing 42 is preferably stainless steel having a 1-inch outer diameter, although tubing of various sizes and other materials may just as well be used. Again assuming that the heating and chilling apparatus 10 is fabricated for a standard sized tote 16 which has a depth measured from upper edges 14 to floor 19 of about 4 feet, the preferred diameter of the cylinder defined by the coil 18 is about 16 inches and there are about 16 of turns in the coil. If tubing 42 is 1 inch outer diameter tubing, and if there are 16 turns in a 16-inch diameter coil, the total linear length of the tubing is about 70 feet. The surface area of the coil just described is about 28 square feet. It will be appreciated that the actual dimensions used may vary widely from those just described.

[0017] The impellers are sized so that there is enough clearance between the tips of the impellers and the tubing 42 to prevent solids from interfering with rotation of the motor. When coil 18 defines a cylinder having a 16-inch diameter, impellers 34 and 36 are about 12 inches in diameter and impeller 38 is about 8 inches. This provides sufficient clearance between the outermost tips of the impellers and the innermost portions of tubing 42 to provide ample clearance therebetween.

[0018] Referring now to FIG. 2, coil 18 begins at inlet 44 and the tubing 42 extends downwardly to the bottom of the heating and chilling apparatus and makes a turn of about 90° and begins coiling upwardly in a spiral path, and again, the tubing at any point along its length in the coiled section is separated from the adjacent tubing in the next turns of the tubing. The tubing 42 is preferably attached to the edge of support plate 26 (FIG. 1), for example with a clamp or by welding. In the illustrated embodiment, the tubing 42 makes 16 rotational turns to define the heat exchanger and then turns upwardly at another turn of about 90° and extends upwardly until the tubing terminates at outlet 46. The tubing is again preferably attached to the edge of support plate 26 near outlet 46. The outer edges of tubing 42 in coil 18 are connected at each turn of the coil to the downwardly extending arms 22 of coil support frame 20, for example by welding, to provide support for the coils of tubing. The lowermost portion of tubing may likewise be connected to support arm 24.

[0019] Heating and cooling apparatus 10 as described above and as shown in the drawings is capable of being transported from place to place because the combination of support members defines a relatively rigid structural platform for supporting the coil 18. Thus, frame 12 and the U shaped support member 20 secure and support coil 18, preventing undesirable relative movement between the coil and the frame during both operation and transport of the apparatus.

[0020] In operation, the entire heating and cooling apparatus 10 is placed in a tote 16 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Although wine must is not shown in the drawings, it is to be assumed that the tote has a large enough volume of must contained in it so that the coil 18 is at least partially submerged in the liquid. A source of fluid represented by dashed arrow 50 is connected to inlet 44. Fluid outlet connections are made at outlet 46, again represented by dashed arrow 50. The fluid 50 is typically supplied to inlet 44 through appropriate hosing and the like, and the plumbing such as hosing or pipe connected to outlet 46 defines a fluid pathway for fluid 50 exiting the coil 18. The fluid 50 may be any appropriate heating/cooling fluid, but typically is water, which sometimes includes antifreeze agents such as propylene glycol. The source from which fluid 50 is provided is preferably capable of delivering the fluid in either a heated condition or in a chilled condition, depending upon the particular needs—that is, whether the temperature of the wine must needs to be increased, or decreased. The temperature of the wine must is monitored. When it is necessary to heat the wine, a flow of heated fluid 50 is initiated through coil 18. Because the tubing 42 provides significant surface area, the heat exchange between the heated fluid 50 in the tubing and the wine is very efficient, and the temperature of the wine may be raised relatively rapidly. Alternately, if the temperature of the wine is to be decreased, the temperature of the fluid 50 flowing through tubing 42 is decreased. The temperature of the fluid 50 is preferably rapidly controllable so that the temperature of the wine must may be precisely and rapidly modified and controlled.

[0021] Although the heating and cooling apparatus is very efficient even without use of motor 28 and the connected impellers, efficiency of heating and cooling increases when the motor is used. With reference to FIG. 2, motor 28 turns impeller 32 in the rotational direction illustrated with arrows 52. As noted above, the preferred rotational speed is about 50 revolutions per minute, although the rotational speed of the motor may be varied widely with adequate results. As impellers 34, 36 and 38 rotate the wine in tote 16 circulates generally in the pattern shown by arrows A. Thus, wine must is drawn down the interior of coil 18, and then flows upwardly near the outer walls of tote 16. Circulation of the wine increases the rate of heat transfer between the coil 18 and the wine, which decreases the time needed to alter the temperature of the wine, and also helps break up the cap. The circulation also maintains the temperature of the wine must in a homogenous condition throughout the tote. The rotating action of the impellers and the circulation that they cause contribute to disruption the cap, and prevention of cap formation.

[0022] Having here described illustrated embodiments of the invention, it is anticipated that other modifications may be med thereto within the scope of the invention by those of ordinary skill in the art. It will thus be appreciated and understood that the spirit and scope of the invention is not limited to those embodiments, but extend to the various modifications and equivalents as defined in the appended claims.