Developing a fundamental understanding of the microbiological treatment of winery wastewater

Summary

Objectives

To determine if efficiency and cost effectiveness of winery wastewater treatment can be improved by enhanced microbiological performance.

Background

While there is good knowledge of wastewater treatment in general, winery wastewater provides unique problems due to the short time that wastewater is available for treatment, the changing composition of wastewater over vintage (sugar rich to alcohol rich), and the general low organic content of wineries wastewater compared to other waste streams. Most previous work has focussed on plant design rather than the microbiology of treatment, and this is reflected in the winery wastewater resources available.

Research approach

The project plan starts with a microbial characterisation of winery wastewater samples supplied from multiple sites at the three keys stages of treatment (start-up, peak vintage flow, quiescent-post vintage). There will be a particular focus on filamentous organisms, because this group of microbes can impact significantly on plant operation, and on understanding how they adapt to the changing conditions in winery wastewater over the season.

The microbiological data will be correlated with operational parameters to establish the key criteria driving treatment efficacy and cost effectiveness. If appropriate, tools to identify microbes will be developed and tested for their utility in assisting with decision making.

Industry benefit

The knowledge generated and tools developed in this project will allow winery operators to maximise wastewater treatment plant efficiency and reduce the likelihood of microbiologically related plant failures.