Pumps are used in many beverage and food process applications. For example, egg whites, honey, food oils, apple sauce, apple juice, donut glaze and pancake batter are all moved using pumps. Pumps can also be used to gently circulate fluid when fermenting high alcohol beer where oxygen is injected into the process to significantly reduce the fermentation time.
Pumps can provide a winemaker with the ability to transfer just-harvested grapes from a de-stemmer/crusher to the tank for fermentation. They can also be used for pump overs in fermentation tanks to allow for color enhancement on red wines and providing a way to move the juice from the tank to barrels for aging.
Pumps are also used to move the wine to the filtering process to remove sediment or solids and then to move the wine to the bottling line for packaging. Regardless of the style, pumps provide time savings to the winemaker and should be considered part of the wine production lifeline.
The winemaker should choose a pump that has the greatest versatility for the particular operation. A versatile pump—one that can run at variable speeds and provide a winery with multiple task fulfillment capabilities—is a cost advantage to a winemaker. Some other advantages of a versatile pump are self-priming, reversible flow, portability and ease of cleaning.
This article discusses some typical pumps found in the wine industry. However, they can also be used in other food and beverage industry segments. Pump styles can be offered in flow ranges from a trickle to hundreds of gallons per minute and with AC or DC voltages.
Pumps can be obtained as a pump alone, with the motor attached and or mounted on a cart for ease of movement within the winery. Some pumps offer low pressure and some can produce high discharge pressures. Picking the flow and pressure to meet the needs of the application is important for successful and continuous production.
Flexible Impeller Pumps
Flexible impeller pumps (FIPs) are self-priming with either wet or dry at start up. They offer gentle, smooth and variable flow rates. This design includes a flexible impeller that rotates in a fixed cavity. The use of an offset cam causes the vanes on the impeller to deflect, decreasing the cell volume initially.
When the vanes leave the cam contact, the volume increases between the vanes, and fluid is drawn into the larger cell cavity with the help of atmospheric pressure. As the impeller rotates, it reduces the cell volume at the discharge port on contact with the cam.
Each cavity then produces a nearly-even and perfect smooth flow and is repeated on each revolution of the impeller. These pumps can transfer solids suspended in liquid. They are reversible and can be mounted above or below the liquid source. The fluid has contact with the rubber flexible impeller and the interior of the body housing. Pump bodies and materials, preferably, should be manufactured from sanitary stainless steel with sanitary rubber compounds. These are positive displacement pumps.