The importance of oxygen in the winemaking process is widely known, as it affects the chemical aspects and therefore the organoleptic characteristics of the final product. Hence, it is evident the usefulness of a continuous and real-time measurements of the levels of oxygen in the various stages of the winemaking process, both for monitoring and for control. The WOW project (Deployment of WSAN technology for monitoring Oxygen in Wine products) has focused on the design and the development of an innovative device for monitoring the oxygen levels in wine. This system is based on the use of an optical fiber to measure the luminescent lifetime variation of a reference metal/porphyrin complex, which decays in presence of oxygen. The developed technology results in a high sensitivity and low cost sensor head that can be employed for measuring the dissolved oxygen levels at several points inside a wine fermentation or aging tank. This system can be complemented with dynamic modeling techniques to provide predictive behavior of the nutrient evolution in space and time given few sampled measuring points, for both process monitoring and control purposes. The experimental validation of the technology has been first performed in a controlled laboratory setup to attain calibration and study sensitivity with respect to different photo-luminescent compounds and alcoholic or non-alcoholic solutions, and then in an actual case study during a measurement campaign at a renown Italian winery.
Keywords: LED; fermentation process; oxygen monitoring; photoluminescence; process control; wine production.