The process replaces the chemical tablets phosphine and methyl bromide, which are toxic and carcinogenic, used in traditional spraying methods. With this process the loss of 18 percent of product damaged by the existence of pathogenic organisms is avoided.
The Mexican company Scientific Advice in Water Studies (ACEA) developed an engineering process for the elimination of pests, sanitation and preservation of stored grains such as corn, beans and wheat using ozone, which is nontoxic and allows a reduction of 60 percent of costs in grain fumigation.
Technological innovation is of great importance for agricultural states like Sinaloa in the North of Mexico, the leading producer of white maize in the country but the hot and humid climate favors the proliferation of all kinds of pests.
The project that made the specialist in physical chemistry José Guadalupe Llanes Ocaña, director of the company, involves injecting ozone to the industrial silos obtained from ambient oxygen through an electric shock.
The produced ozone is efficiently distributed within the silo using a mobile system, which allows to move from one container to another and serve a greater number of silos with the same ozonation system providing great versatility in removing pathogens from stored grain.
The researcher explains that "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 Llanes Ocaña.
Moreover, the process replaces chemicals like phosphine and methyl bromide used in traditional spraying methods, which are toxic and carcinogenic.
The physicochemical expert explains that the common spraying method is used in doses of four tablets of phosphine per ton of grain. "If 22 million tons of maize are produced in Mexico, we are talking about 88 million pills; an ecological damage is avoided with the new process."
He says that on average about 10 to 18 percent of grain stored is lost because of pests, which can be avoided with the application of this innovation. He also seeks to export the technology to countries as Brazil, Argentina, Canada and the United States.
For the "Technological Innovation for the elimination of pests, sanitation and preservation of stored grain," the company was awarded the ADIAT prize in Technological Innovation 2015.
The researcher and his team performed and developed the project for over 12 years and registered the patent in 2011, which was validated by the laboratory of the Research Center for Food and Development (CIAD).
The study began in a laboratory of the University of Sinaloa, then moved to an industrial level with the acquiring of the patent. This technological innovation is currently marketed in Mexico and Canada by a private company (Empresa Operadora de Granos Almacenados SA de CV) through a contract and confidentiality agreement with Scientific Advice in Water Studies (ACEA).
"We hope to serve the region and the country with some of what we have developed, making it available to the barns because it is a sustainable and ecological project," concludes the researcher.