Zebulon company develops wine industry’s first carbon-neutral synthetic cork

Zebulon company develops wine industry's first carbon-neutral synthetic cork (Image 1)

There are millions of wine drinkers throughout the world and that means there are a lot of corked bottles of wine. And a local company produces more than two billion of those corks every year.

The factory that produces those billions of synthetic corks every year is housed in a building in Zebulon that has 200,000 square feet of space and is overseen by manufacturing manager Chris Reinhardt.

Reinhardt said Nomacorc founder Gert Noel was determined to make a better cork that would not only enhance a wine’s flavor by controlling the oxygen flow, but also have a minimal impact on the environment.

The company’s latest breakthrough is the “Select Bio,” a zero carbon, fully recyclable cork. Vice president of strategy innovation at Nomacorc, Malcolm Thompson, said the process of making the Select Bio is different from other corks.

“In the case of Select Bio, instead of starting from fossil fuels, we in fact start from sugar cane,” he said. “Those undergo a series of processes that are different from fossil fuels, but still produce a bio-based polyethylene. We use that bio-based polyethylene to produce Select Bio.”

The process of making the cork is sort of similar to baking, Reinhardt explained.

“It’s like making cookies,” Reinhardt said, pointing to where the “recipe” is put into the computer. “The products mix together depending on the product type … it flows downstairs and it’s actually blended together and made into the cork.”

After it’s mixed together, the materials go through a duel extrusion machine where the foam is heated into a liquid, given a cylindrical shape and then a flexible outer skin is bonded to the inner cylinder. The cork is cooled in water, cut in to proper lengths and then shipped out to thousands of customers across the globe.

Thompson said Nomacorc won’t be giving away the exact formula for Select Bio any time soon.

“There’s a lot of proprietary art, some of it is patent-protected per se; some is regarded as in-house knowledge, so we try to stay clear of [giving out the formula],” he said.

What Nomacorc is not staying clear of is an even cleaner cork coming out in the next few years. Thompson said it will create an even bigger buzz in the wine industry.

Thompson said Nomacorc hopes to eventually have a zero carbon footprint with all of its products.

Copyright WNCN 2015. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s