Company Safely Removes Pests from Stored Grain Using Ozone
Traditional methods for removing pests from stored grain involve sprays using phosphine and methyl bromide, but a Mexican company, Scientific Advice in Water Studies (ACEA), has developed a process to eliminate pests and preserve stored grain using ozone, which is non-toxic and provides a 60% reduction in cost versus traditional grain fumigation.
"Ozone is triatomic (molecule composed of three atoms) oxygen, which is very reactive and has the virtue of not polluting or leaving toxic residues, eliminating odors, fungi and sanitizing grains such as corn, beans, wheat , sorghum and rice," says researcher and director of Scientific Advice, José Guadaplupe Llanes Ocaña.
The process, which involves injecting ozone from ambient oxygen into industrial silos through an electric shock, could prove to be particularly beneficial to grain operations in agricultural states such as Sinaloa in Northern Mexico, the top while maize producing region in the country, where the humid climate causes widespread pest problems.
Typically between 10% and 18% of stored grain is lost to pests. To combat this, the traditional spraying method employs a dose of four tablets of phosphine per ton of grain. Mexico can produce 22 tons of grain – that would translate to the use of about 88 million tablets. By using the ozone method, it eliminates a sizable ecological threat.
The ozone method is currently being marketed in Mexico and Canada by the private company, Empresa Operadora de Granos Almacenados SA de CV which holds a marketing contract with ACEA, but Mr. Llanes Ocaña hopes to export the technology to other markets including Brazil, Argentina, and the United States.