A cold-storage atmosphere management system designed and tested in Australia by AiroFresh International is growing in popularity, as indicated by the product’s adoption across the country and overseas.
The patented AiroFresh machine is a highly intense oxidation module that, driven by light, and combined light frequencies and specialized coatings, destroys all airborne contaminants, including virus, bacteria, fungi and mold.
“Most of the other machines on the market are mostly based on ozone,” said Desmond Muir, AiroFresh distribution manager. “Ozone is not healthy for humans. You cannot go into a room that is running an ozone unit, but with this you can. What it actually does is destroys all molds, bacterial infections and everything on the fruit, and sterilizes the rooms as well.
“It can be used in any environment that has a need to destroy and remove molds, fungi and bacteria.”
During the process, ethylene, which degrades and shortens shelf the shelf life of many horticultural products, also is destroyed quickly, the company said.
The technologically advanced system was designed and developed in Australia by Creative Research Technologies, which became AiroFresh International, with the help of two in-house scientists. It was trial-tested for four years before launching commercially.
“It is a reaction that is totally safe for humans and it is certified for organic use, so it ticks a lot of boxes,” Muir said. “This was technology that originally came out of the NASA space program, and it was how they preserved food in spaceships and cleaned the air.”
The machine comes in two sizes: the AF 1000 unit, which features a handling capacity of 250 cubic meters (66,043 gallons), and the AF 4000, which is designed for storage rooms of up to 1,000 cubic meters (264,172 gallons).
The system works for cultivation companies, storages and supermarkets, requiring only the cost of a lightbulb to run on single-phase 220 volts, for the AF 1000 unit.
It is used in a variety of food industries in Australia, including produce, dairy, meat, poultry and seafood.
“It will treat anything that goes into cold storage,” said Muir, who’s also the varietal manager for Kanzi Australia.
“We are focused heavily on apples, of course, and we recommend using it with the Kanzi variety. We don’t allow 1-MCP to be used with the Kanzi apples. So, the alternative is AiroFresh, which we find is beneficial to the product.”
Few other processes are capable of providing a sterile atmosphere with a constant stable nitric oxide uplift, enabling ethylene destruction and produce longevity, said Muir, who added that AiroFresh helps improve produce shelf life.
“It minimizes the rotting organisms,” he said. “In normal storage situations, you can get one apple that goes rotten but it goes onto the next one, and the next one, and you end up with a nest of rots. With Airofresh it tends to dry it up, and if it does rot, it stays intact and does not spread to the next fruit.”
AiroFresh won the Best New Horticultural Innovation award in 2016, and the Regional Development and Sustainability award in 2017. The system is being used in Belgium, The Netherlands and Spain, with trial work going on in France, the company said.
“This is innovative industry technology that treats the environment of the produce 24 hours a day,” Gilmore Pears’ Rohan Gilmore said in the AiroFresh’s promotional flyer. “Molds are no longer a problem, which in industry settings would reduce the need for chemical mold controls and fungicides. For an organic grower, the AiroFresh AF 1000 is an excellent addition to our facility and I recommend its use to any grower of fine produce.”