As an R&D&I company, TRATACORK focuses mainly on research, funded through its own resources as well as through grants and corporate-academic collaboration agreements.
Projects currently under development, either on its own initiative or in collaboration with businesses, include:
Developing VTD technology: Constructing equipment to decontaminate cork in strips and sheets.
The success and efficiency of VTD technology depends largely on the equipment used. The design of this equipment is critical, to the extent that defective design may lead to uneven treatment of the cork and the apparent failure of the technology.
Because of this, applying VTD to a range of formats: granules, discs, stoppers, strips, sheets, etc., poses a range of challenges, all requiring different solutions. Tratacork has overcome these problems to treat granules, stoppers and discs.
This project tackles designing and building equipment for the VTD decontamination of cork strips and sheets.
Integral treatment of cork to eradicate TCA
For many years, eradicating TCA from stoppers has been one of the major challenges faced by the cork industry. Most methods currently available are either inefficient or unsuitable, often seriously altering the characteristics and properties of the cork.
One possible strategy involves acting throughout the manufacture process, from harvesting of the cork oak bark to transformation of the cork into stoppers.
This project studies all processes in detail, analysing the opportunity and convenience of inserting decontamination phases between its different stages. The aim is to progressively reduce TCA levels in cork, so that by the time it reaches the stopper phase it is completely free of the contaminant.
Study on contamination in technical or agglomerated stoppers.
Recent studies have shown that many wines closed with technical (agglomerate) stoppers are contaminated with substances that alter their organoleptic properties. However, these substances are not present in the cork itself, confirming the presence of cross contamination. This may originate in the manufacture process, in glues or in other components, such as the expanded microspheres added to technical stoppers.
This project aims to identify the origin of this contamination, the substances involved, the levels present, potential toxicity, etc., as well as to suggest strategies to combat it.
New generation treatments: the 100% clean stopper
One of the difficulties encountered when decontaminating stoppers is that contaminants are not distributed uniformly throughout the structure of the cork. Accordingly, certain stoppers may be totally TCA-free while others are highly contaminated.
This requires aggressive and/or prolonged treatments which, though they may not be required in the case of many corks, are absolutely necessary to ensure that all corks are contamination-free. The alternative is to analyse each stopper individually. While this is technically possible, it is not economically feasible. Accordingly, finding a procedure that delivers guaranteed 100% clean stoppers is a major aim for the Tratacork research group, and one which this project aims to deliver.
In view of the failure of traditional strategies to deal with this problem, at Tratacork we are convinced that the solution may be found only by approaching it from a completely new angle. Drawing on recent scientific discoveries regarding surface contamination and nanoscience, and using state-of-the-art treatments and technology, the project is achieving progress towards its goal.
The initial results have been encouraging enough to motivate a patent application and to make this project one of our most promising.
Thanks to this research activity, Tratacork and the University of Salamanca are now joint owners of several national and international patents, accumulating major know-how in the treatment, cleaning and decontamination of cork.
At TRATACORK, we work to develop innovative technological solutions and services, aimed at producing excellent quality cork stoppers.
With this aim, TRATACORK makes its VTD technology available to stopper manufacturers, enabling them to eliminate the risk of contamination by TCA and other contaminants, while guaranteeing the absolute sensorial neutrality of their product.
TRATACORK, designs and builds licensed equipment to treat cork in granule, stopper and disc forms, tailored to the requirements and specifications of each client.
We provide technological support and action protocols to optimise TCA elimination from a range of stopper types, at different contamination levels. We also offer training in VTD technology and operating the equipment.
As R&D&I experts and consultants, TRATACORK is equipped to deal with many of the problems that arise in stopper manufacture and quality control, offering the best solutions.
At your service
Additionally, TRATACORK offers a cork cleaning service for companies who wish to improve the quality of their stoppers but who, due to size or other constraints, are not interested in acquiring the technology.
Discover the future
The organoleptic neutrality of natural and technical cork, retaining its natural properties