Home Winemaking And Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Have you ever looked at your airlocks popping up and down as carbon dioxide gas is being released and wondered just how much co2 you might be responsible for generating? There was an interesting discussion started by a user “Dhorton” at the WineMakingTalk forum who was wondering if there was any concern in regard to co2 amounts in their apartment as a result of making wine at home.
Apparently, since Dhorton began making wine, their smoke/carbon monoxide detector was activated a few times. I imagine the detector detects carbon monoxide specifically, and there could be a number of reasons for false alarms including humidity, dust and even bugs getting into the unit. But to a new winemaker, I can understand the concern seeing all these carbon dioxide bubbles coming up and wondering if the quantity is enough to affect the air inside.
An engineer, “Kiljoy” who admits to having too much time on his hands responded to the forum thread and figured that one gallon of wine with a specific gravity of 1.09 would release about .07433 lbs. of carbon dioxide per day over a 14 day fermentation period. The calculations then went on to show that this was a negligible amount, even in a small apartment.
Later in the thread, a link to a blog post that discussed carbon dioxide emissions by breweries was posted. In that post, Pablo concludes:
“Maybe this doesn’t sound like much, but let me put it in perspective: in 2004, Americans drank 23.974 billion liters of beer, resulting in 1,491,182 mT of CO2 emissions. Global beer consumption in 2004 was 150.392 billion liters, resulting in 9,354,382 mT of CO2 emissions. For a little something more to think about, the US emitted a total of 1,446,777,000 mT of CO2 in 1996. Now, keep in mind that this is based on an assumption of a brix value of 12. The average beer may be a bit weaker than that. Feel free to plug in your own assumptions to see what you get. Either way, the CO2 emissions from brewing are not negligible.”
Well, it seems to me that Pablo’s logic might be a bit off if he is suggesting that the brewing industry alone is responsible for this. Bare in mind that we are talking about emissions from the fermentation of organic material that contains sugars. I could be wrong, but I think that there would still be quite a bit of CO2 even if it wasn’t used in the brewing or winemaking industry – as the stuff rots it would likely release plenty of CO2. Humans release CO2 in their farts after eating organic plant material so either way – fermented or digested, or left to rot, CO2 will likely be produced. I’m just not sure if it would be in the same quantities – does simply rotting matter convert sugars to CO2? What I’m saying is that this plant material would release CO2 in time, whether it’s fermented or not.
In my opinion, trying to put some blame or pin global warming causes to include brewing or fermenting is a bit much. I don’t think home winemakers have anything to worry about, even if they do put great stock in theories about CO2 emissions and global warming.