Familia Torres designs a pioneering system to capture and reuse CO2 from wine fermentation

05 November 2021

Familia Torres has designed an innovative system to capture and reuse the CO2 from wine fermentation that it has already implemented at its Pacs del Penedès facility during this year’s harvest, with excellent results. This is a pioneering circular economy project that will allow the winery to reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to slowing down climate change.

This system consists of adapting the fermentation tanks so the CO2 released during the wine fermentation process can be conveyed to large balloons positioned above these tanks. As the wine ferments and releases CO2, the gas is captured inside the balloons, which inflate. Then, using an air compressor, the gas is compressed to a pressure that allows it to be transferred to another tank where it is stored, to be reused later as an inert gas for filling the tanks with wine in order to avoid oxidation.

The use of CO2 or a combination of CO2 and nitrogen to fill the headspace in wine containers is one of the most common techniques for protecting, or ‘blanketing’, the wine. In general, this CO2 is supplied by a gas supplier who usually gets it from oil refineries, and therefore it has an associated carbon footprint. Fermentation CO2, on the other hand, is not of fossil origin, but rather is the same CO2 the vine absorbed through photosynthesis, so it is practically pure and considered emission neutral.  

According to Miguel A. Torres, president of Familia Torres, ‘every tonne that we manage to recover and reuse means one tonne less in our carbon footprint and, additionally, a saving on the winery’s CO2 supply bill. This system is effective and profitable, and we're going to share it with other wineries so that, together, we’ll be able to significantly reduce the use of fossil-origin CO2’.

With this innovative solution – the product of several years of research and testing in the context of CCR (Carbon Capture & Reuse) technologies – Familia Torres estimates that it will be able to capture and reuse around 20 tonnes of CO2 per year, equivalent to one-third of the gas the winery purchases. Familia Torres has put this system to the test during this year’s vintage, installing three balloons connected to seven fermentation tanks, with very satisfactory results. It intends to expand the installation for next year’s vintage, to continue reducing its carbon footprint. Since the Torres & Earth programme was launched in 2008, Familia Torres has reduced CO2 emissions per bottle by 34% across its entire scope (both direct and indirect emissions), aiming to achieve a reduction of at least 60% by 2030.