From Vine to Wine with Air-Operated Double-Diaphragm (AODD) Pumps
Various pieces of equipment play a critical role in winemaking, perhaps none as critical as the role of pumps. Pumps are used for wine transfer, filtration/bottling, unloading trucks, unloading tank wagons and unloading ships, to name a few applications.
When selecting the pump technology that is best suited for wine-handling and transfer, operators should identify a technology that not only has shear-sensitivity (the ability to move the wine without damaging or “shearing” the delicate product), and deadhead capabilities (the ability to start and stop the pumping process instantly without subjecting the wine to heat or damage from moving pump components or bypass relief valves), but can also safely transfer large solids (the “must”) with strong suction lift.
The Early Pumping Options
Flexible impeller pumps and piston pumps were two of the first pumps to be used in winemaking. Flexible impeller pumps were considered the ideal choice for smaller wineries due to their ruggedness and affordability, while piston pumps hold the distinction of being one of the first pumps used in the production of high-end wines.
But their limitations soon became obvious to the wine community, starting with flexible impeller pumps. Although inexpensive, these pumps cannot move solids, which eliminates the possibility of utilizing these pumps in the must-transfer process. Also, the flexible impeller pump cannot run dry. If they do run dry, the impeller will overheat, damaging the pump, as well as the quality of the wine. Piston pumps, on the other hand, are known for their low-shear pumping characteristics, but the weight of these pumps can present safety issues for personnel, while the presence of seals creates an opportunity for leaks and product contamination.
Due to these issues, the industry began transitioning to other evolving pump technologies that offered the necessary characteristics to ensure the quality of its delicate product throughout the whole process.