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Professor creates ‘non-stop wine machine’

An American professor has developed a miniature machine capable of continuously producing wine.

Professor Daniel Attinger is now working with a team of scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne in Switzerland to develop the non-stop wine machine.

His ‘micro winery on a chip’ is capable of continuously producing wine at a rate of one millilitre per hour, according to the university.

But, Attinger’s miniature device isn’t intended for home use.

It is being developed to help winemakers control fermentation in the cellar.

‘Let’s say a winemaker in the Lavaux region of Switzerland finds that a certain type of yeast or a certain fermentation temperature leads to an overly bitter wine,’ said Attinger. ‘We could quickly test alternatives.’

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Climate change and wine

Inspiration for the device came from concerns about how winemakers will deal with climate change, said Attinger, who is a wine-loving professor at Iowa State University in the US and a specialist in multi-phase micro-fluidics.

‘Climate change is having an impact on the quality of grape crops around the world,’ he said.

‘Due to the heat, some crops ripen too quickly, the harvest takes place sooner and the wines end up with a higher alcohol content or a different taste. We need to find ways to analyse and adapt how the wine is made.’

How does the non-stop wine machine work?

Attinger’s device works on compartments. Grape juice runs down a main tube, with yeast feeding into it through a thin film.

When the grape juice reaches the yeasts, they absorb the sugar and give off alcohol and CO2 through the membrane. According to Attinger, this happens quickly because of the small space, which makes rapid testing possible.

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