Research spotlight on Dr. Ron Runnebaum: Sustainable winemaking and more

Dr. Runnebaum

Dr. Runnebaum's research program aims to combine his interests in sustainable winemaking with his research background in nanomaterials, adsorption, catalysis, and reaction engineering. 

Current wine-related objectives of Dr. Runnebaum's research focus on developing and characterizing materials to understand their features that facilitate the adsorption of components from wine or from effluent waste streams. Winemaking-related projects include 1) Designing solid-state materials for the replacement of solution-based treatments, particularly those that could improve sustainability and efficiency; and 2) Developing materials to capture CO2 and volatile organic compounds, especially from fermentation. 

For example, a number of wine processing treatments include single-use materials, such as bentonite, that cannot be regenerated or reused. These materials are typically used in batch operations. An opportunity exists, therefore, to identify solid-state materials, which operate on similar chemical or physical separations principles, yet are designed so that they can be regenerated and reused in a continuous process, such as a packed bed column. A combination of new materials and processes can minimize wine loss, reduce solid waste, and decrease the time required to complete the treatment. 

In addition, Dr. Runnebaum continues to investigate fundamental structure-activity relationships in chemical adsorption and reaction by nanomaterials, including zeolites and supported organometallic clusters.