Diffusion of oxygen throughout the stave of a barrel

This time we have filmed the diffusion of oxygen throughout the stave of a barrel

For the first time, the dissolved oxygen dynamics and two-dimensional distribution of oxygen within the thickness of a barrel stave have been demonstrated. Wood water saturation is a key factor in the diffusion of oxygen through wood with barrel OTR decreasing during the ageing period.

This work has been just pulished in the Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research in an article entittled Imaging of oxygen transmission in the oak wood of wine barrels using optical sensors and a colour camera

Background and Aims: Wine ageing in oak barrels is characterised by a series of physical and chemical processes, in many of which oxygen plays an important role. Therefore, to control better this phase of winemaking, it is not enough to know that oxygen penetrates into the barrel through the oak wood; it is also important to know how oxygen moves through the wood into the barrel, in what quantity and which factors are involved.

Methods and Results: We attempted to answer these questions with a high-resolution colour camera, ratiometric calibration and a planar optode with which the two-dimensional distribution and dynamics of oxygen within an oak barrel stave were studied. It was possible to make two-dimensional measurements when combined with microscopic optics and an appropriate camera, which permitted the measure of the transmission of oxygen into the barrel through the oak stave and the study of the mechanism of transmission. The trial was applied to both dry and wet oak wood, which revealed how the moisture content of the wood influenced oxygen transmission. The measurements were made in an airtight chamber under controlled temperature and pressure, which accurately reproduced the conditions of a stave in an oak wood barrel filled with liquid.

Conclusion: We were able to visualise the diffusion of oxygen in both dry and in wet French oak wood under conditions similar to those operating in a barrel. The moisture content of the wood influenced the oxygen transmission rate (OTR) through the wood.

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