A resource and an asset to preserve.
We filter everything that we discard to make sure that the environment around us is always protected. That life is safeguarded.
Marcs are an essential asset at Di Lorenzo. Distillates, grape-seeds, calcium tartrate: a large amount of our work comes from processing them. We process significant amounts of them, about 65,000 tonnes a year, since we are one of Italy’s leading companies.
Of course, we don’t just have raw materials arriving at Di Lorenzo’s premises. We also stock wine and dregs for our production, though it certainly requires a more complex management.
I like to think of marcs as living matter. They are full of fermentable sugars, which determine the potential alcohol content. This does not last forever.
This is why, before it evaporates, we need to press it with mechanical means, such as bulldozers, in the most compact way possible and then cover it with white sheets of plastic, allowing for the formation of a surface crust that can retain the alcoholic capacity a little longer.
In this case, speed is an essential condition.
Even once they have been compacted, the marcs cannot stand still for more than three or four weeks, otherwise this would not allow for an adequate yield when processed.
To ensure a continuous flow for production, we have a different storage area from that of our small company in Ponte Valleceppi (near Perugia). After working with local and regional institutions, we located it in the industrial area of Marsciano (near Perugia).
We also fitted the latest technology for temporary storage, such as horizontal silo bags.
As the word itself denotes, these are polyethylene silos which lie on the ground. Think of a huge sausage, they work in a very similar way. We fill them up and press them until they are completely full. We then close them and ensure that they are airtight. They are built to withstand external events.
We have also designed their colour.
They are white to reduce the impact of global warming, as suggested by the study on “Bianco riflettente amico dell’ambiente” (Eco-friendly reflective white) by professors Franco Cotana and Federico Rossi from CIRIAF – Interuniversity Research Centre on Pollution due to Physical Agents.
Among other things, according to Italian law (art. 272, paragraph I, legislative decree 152/2006), the storage of marcs, even without the use of silo bags, refers “to plants and activities whose emissions are hardly relevant to the effects of air pollution. ”
In any case, marcs are natural fertilisers.
Plus, as stated by Umbria’s regional administrative court (TAR) in order no. 114 of 10 September 2014, “they do not cause prejudice to public safety and health.”
According to the authorisation obtained, they could be stored as a heap, but we decided to just compress them in silo bags to minimise the visual impact.
We like doing things the right way, within the rules, but also respecting the sensitivity of those living around us.
Among the many scattered throughout the peninsula, the Tiber river is undoubtedly our main supplier. Maybe the one we care about the most, as without it we would not be able to launch production. However, this is the case of “a favour for a favour”. Because while we expect a lot, it also demands a lot. First of all, respect.
Water is our main source of wealth. Its cycle is vital to the operation of the Distillery.
There is a lot of it at Di Lorenzo. A small portion comes from the waterworks and is used for human consumption and for the services reserved to our employees.
But most of it is from the river. About a thousand cubic metres a day. It is used for two purposes:
1. one-third in production processes and internal cleaning applications;
2. the rest as a cooling system.
All the water is accumulated in a buffer tank. Before directing it to the processing stage, we let it settle and then de-mineralise in a reverse osmosis system.
All impurities have been removed when it arrives at our facilities. It is used to create the steam needed for the alcohol removal stage and distillation.
But not only. In this stage, an additional contribution involves the introduction of the mass of water associated with the raw materials: such as the water drained from the marcs (250 cubic metres a day), the water from processed dregs (200 cubic metres) and the watery fraction of wine (300 cubic metres).
Moreover, we re-use the water from the purifier (500 cubic meters) to dilute our semi-finished products (tartrate and marcs) and for washes in the scrubber and wet electrostatic filter. This is all done to improve the quality of the fumes.
So, to sum up, at Di Lorenzo we use water from the Tiber, the water from raw materials and the water from the purifier.
This mass of liquids ends up in the water treatment department.
Inside the Distillery, it takes up an area of about 20,000 square metres. For the kind of treatment cycle used, the plant is probably the most modern in Umbria.
It consists of two sections:
1. an anaerobic digestion section, which produces biogas with three large digesters (link to cogeneration)
2. a denitrification, oxidation, biological nitrification and sedimentation section (link to the amendments).
All processing wastewater (vinasses) passes through this last section. This is where the flora of aerobic bacteria allows, in separate tanks, for the reduction of nitrates – the final stage where nitrogen is eliminated, as well as the organic load by using oxygen.
Finally, to complete the process, there are the steps in the biological and tertiary decanters (where phosphorus and colouring agents are eliminated).
At the end of the treatment cycle, the water that leaves Di Lorenzo’s premises is clean and has been treated, so it can be used for irrigation.
We return it to our best supplier: the Tiber.
SAFETY AND CONTROL SYSTEMS
The treatment plant is the most sensitive part of our company. It is the most technologically advanced. This means that we can eliminate all pollutants and create the conditions for virtuous recycling.
But we went the extra mile. We decided to constantly monitor it with control and alarm systems.
There are six of them in total:
1. The flow meter at the discharge area of the treatment plant;
2. Three flow meters on the cooling water discharges;
3. A temperature gauge once again on the cooling water discharge;
4. A colorimeter;
5. A turbidimeter;
6. An automatic sampler sealed by ARPA, which is triggered in the event of an alarm.
The colorimeter and the turbidimeter send the signal to the control unit of the regional environment agency (ARPA), which constantly records the values of the discharge. The data is transmitted every 15 minutes using a Global System Mobile (GSM) signal.
If the values are not in line with ARPA’s legal provisions, the control system automatically sounds an alarm after which an inspection is carried out immediately by the authorities.
The treatment plant is then monitored 24/7 by qualified operators who make sure that the plant operates correctly.
In the event of an anomaly, the treatment plant’s discharge can be quickly intercepted and the factory processes that generate waste water (vinasses) can be stopped to prevent them flowing to the treatment plant.
Our safety systems also include a sophisticated fire-prevention system.
It consists of an underground water network that feeds fire hydrants, compliant with UNI 70 and 45 in the various areas of the plant, an overhead network to cool and turn off alcohol tanks, sprinkler installations in closed rooms or systems at greater risk.
The networks are powered by various pumping stations, both electric and combustion, both with suitable water reserves. This plant is strictly in line with the stringent fire safety standards in force since 2000 and approved by the competent supervisory authorities.
Protecting our surrounding environment is an important part of our work.
Protecting the tower
Keep this word in mind: scrubber. I don’t believe that it is a nice word, but it is certainly an effective one. It is one of the two systems, together with the wet electrostatic filter , used to filter fumes.
A Distillery burns energy. It is natural, as it has to produce the steam required for distillation. In turn, combustion inevitably produces fumes.
The fumes from the Distillery come from biomass boilers and from the vinasse drier. But before getting to the chimney, they undergo a unique process to remove particles.
The first step is the most vigorous and is performed by the above-mentioned “washer scrubber”.
This is a stainless steel vertical tower where a series of water sprayers arranged in units develop a concentrate of droplets which, moving in the opposite direction in relation to the fumes, create a “washing” effect.
The result is the removal of the larger suspended particles, odours and pollutants from the fumes.
The second step takes place in the wet electrostatic filter. Ours is special and was custom-made by Ewk, a German company. And it is unique to its genre.
In this domain, electric fields generated by high voltage electrodes attract and capture the fine particles that remain in the fumes. So there is a flow of air coming out with an insignificant percentage of pollutants.
We did say that we reserve a unique treatment for the particles.
The limit permitted by current legislation is 50 milligrams per normal cubic metre of fumes.
The fumes leaving our chimney, instead, have a particle emission of 3.5 milligrams per cubic metre of fumes, which is about 94% less with respect to the permitted limit.
This is also respect for both the environment and life.