Does Purity of Nitrogen Purge Affect the Dissolved Oxygen Pickup of Wine?

How Will the Use of Nitrogen Generator Affect the Dissolved Oxygen Pickup of Wine - wine bottles - Parker BalstonWinemakers go to great lengths to minimize the Dissolved Oxygen (DO) pickup of their wine. Oxygen in wine can cause discoloration and impact taste and aroma.

According to Wines and Vines exposure to air is a primary culprit in chemical oxidation of wine especially after primary fermentation and during the later stages of wine production in the beverage industry.

Wine is particularly vulnerable to excess oxygen during transport from tanks, barrels and in the final bottling process. It is important to purge all filters, transport lines and containers with an inert gas like nitrogen. The headspace of the bottle should also be filled with nitrogen to eliminate the chance of oxygen pick up after bottling. But does the purity level of the nitrogen affect the dissolved oxygen pickup of the wine? How will the use of a Nitrogen Generator at 98% to 99.5% affect the DO pickup of wine?

Nitrogen purity

Using nitrogen as the inert gas, the question arises as to how pure the nitrogen needs to be to minimize the DO pickup.

One of our customers conducted an experiment using a McBrady Orbital bottler but used air instead of nitrogen. The experiment found that DO pickup in the wine was 9.7 ppm. We know that air contains 20.9% oxygen or 209,000 ppm of oxygen. Therefore, exposure to 209,000 ppm of oxygen gives 9.7% DO.

With this information and by using ratios, we can determine what the DO levels would be at different O2 concentrations:

__9.7__      __X_ppm pickup in wine
209,000             purity of nitrogen ppm

Example #1:   98% pure nitrogen has 20,000 ppm oxygen.

__9.7__      __X__
209,000           20,000 ppm        209,000x = 194,000    x = .928 ppm DO pickup.  How will the use of a nitrogen generator at 98% to 99.5% affect the Dissolved Oxygen Pickup of Wine? + Gas Separation & Filtration Division + Winemaker Series Nitrogen Generator

Example #2:   99% pure nitrogen has 10,000 ppm oxygen.

__9.7__      __X__
209,000           10,000 ppm        209,000x = 97,000    x = .464 ppm DO pickup.


Example #3:   99.5% pure nitrogen has 5,000 ppm oxygen.

__9.7__      __X__
209,000           5,000 ppm        209,000x = 48,500    x = .232 ppm DO pickup.


Example #4:   99.9% pure nitrogen has 1,000 ppm oxygen.

__9.7__      __X__
209,000           1,000 ppm        209,000x = 9700    x = .0464 ppm DO pickup.


Therefore, wineries can be confident that using a Balston Nitrogen generator, at purities between 98-99.5%, will keep their DO levels in their finished product below 1 ppm.

In actual practice at hundreds of wineries around the world, Parker’s customers achieve even better results than what the mathematical treatment above would predict. One site even ran at Nitrogen purities at just 95% using a Parker generator and the DO pickup was as good as liquid nitrogen with a purity of >99.99%.

To learn more about on-site nitrogen generation, please visit our Parker Balston website.


This post was contributed by David Connaughton  and Jennifer Fiorello, Gas Generation Technology Blog Team Members, Parker Industrial Gas Filtration and Separation Division.




Related articles on this blog:

Vineyard Selects Nitrogen Gas Generator for Return on Investment and Ease of Use
How to Select an On Site Nitrogen Generator
Why Nitrogen is Better Than Argon for Wine Production

Have a question about Parker products or services? We can help: Contact Us!

Comments for Does Purity of Nitrogen Purge Affect the Dissolved Oxygen Pickup of Wine?

Please note that, in an effort to combat spam, comments with hyperlinks will not be published.

Leave a comment