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Stemming the loss of precious wine


When you buy a bottle of wine for the holidays, you are actually paying for more than a bottle. That’s because during the months or years that the wine was aging, as much as 15 percent of it was lost to evaporation.

Now, that loss of good wine can be prevented -- and wine prices reduced -- with an atomizer system that keeps the humidity inside and outside the barrels equal, thereby eliminating the evaporation that occurs as nature works to maintain equilibrium.

The system, developed at a Technion-Israel Institute of Technology incubator company, consists of three main components for the wine cellar: an acceleration chamber that uses air at supersonic speed to atomize water into a "dry fog" of droplets so small they evaporate before reaching the ground (that means no water collects on the wine barrels or the floor on which the barrels sit, preventing mold); a computer controlled sensor that maintains humidity at 95-98 percent, reducing evaporation of wine from the barrels to about 1 percent; and a gauge that measures humidity levels up to 100 percent, a feat beyond current gauges which stop at 90 percent.

"High humidity is often confused with wetness, but the two are not the same," said Eran Brown, general manager of Optiguide, the Technion company that developed the atomizer system. "Destructive mold on barrels and on the floor forms when there’s freestanding water but not in extreme humidity, which saturates the air but doesn’t wet the barrels and floor."

Optiguide’s internationally patented system is already in use at wineries in Israel, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mexico and Chile. The company is now searching for U.S. marketing representation in preparation for sale in the United States.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is Israel’s leading scientific and technological center for applied research and education. It commands a worldwide reputation for its pioneering work in computer science, biotechnology, water-resource management, materials engineering, aerospace and medicine. The majority of the founders and managers of Israel’s high-tech companies are alumni. Based in New York City, the American Technion Society is the leading American organization supporting higher education in Israel, with more than 20,000 supporters and 17 offices around the country.

Martha Molnar | EurekAlert!
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