UV Aerosol Disinfection Devices To Increase Fruit & Vegetable Shelf Life

UV Aerosol Disinfection Devices To Increase Fruit & Vegetable Shelf Life

UV Aerosol Disinfection Devices To Increase Fruit & Vegetable Shelf Life

John Palmer
Chief Executive Officer, UVSheltron
Rear Admiral (Ret), U.S. Navy

Can UV Air Purifiers be used to extend the shelf life of fresh fruits and vegetables?
The answer is unequivocally “Yes.”

A review published in the June 2019 “Trends of Food Science & Technology” highlighted a study entitled “Recent advances in detecting and regulating ethylene concentrations for shelf-life extension and maturity control of fruit.”  The study examined the science of fruit and vegetable maturity and the impact of ethylene regulation on quality and shelf life. Ethylene detection and monitoring mechanisms were also described. Moreover, shelf life extending technologies for ethylene control were cataloged and evaluated.

Ethylene is an odorless and colorless gas that emanates naturally from fruits and vegetables as they mature. Ethylene enables and sometimes accelerates the ripening and ultimately the spoiling of fruits and vegetables. It must be first understood that not all fruits and vegetables mature in the same fashion. Neither are the fruits and vegetables subject to the same effects of ethylene in the maturing process. Fruits are divided into climacteric and non-climacteric categories. Non-climacteric fruits have low sensitivity to ethylene, and therefore mature more slowly. Examples are citrus fruits, grapes, pineapples, and berries. Climacteric fruit maturation is more profoundly impacted and accelerated by the presence of ethylene, and this fruit subset represented by apples, pears, bananas, peaches, kiwi, mangos, avocados, apricots, and tomatoes. Vegetables, though non-climacteric as a whole, also have varying sensitivity to ethylene.  Vegetables with high sensitivity include broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, lettuce, potatoes, and spinach.  Vegetables with low sensitivity (and longer shelf-life) include beans, celery, eggplant, artichokes, and peppers.

The challenge for fruit and vegetable providers is how to extend shelf life. Temperature control has long been a common strategy; however, there are other technologies to augment refrigeration. Among these are techniques to absorb, scavenge, oxidize, or block ethylene receptors. One of the most promising technologies is oxidation using a Titanium Dioxide (TiO2) catalyst and ultraviolet (UV) light. The UV light and TiO2 are used to oxidize ethylene (C2H4) to carbon dioxide (CO2), and the process is based on the photocatalytic capability of the catalyst. According to the study TiO2 photocatalysis occurs as follows: “When O2 and H2O are all present, the energy-rich electron–hole pairs can generate hydroxyl ions by oxidizing H2O and superoxide ion (•O2¯). These active radicals decompose C2H4 into CO2 and H2O. The effectiveness of ethylene removal on ripening of green tomatoes was tested …, and their results showed that the photocatalytic activity of the catalyst was effective in eliminating ethylene from the surrounding atmosphere of tomatoes.” 

The implication is clear, photocatalysis with TiO2 is an exciting technology that can extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables and thereby strengthen the supply chain. When combined with climate control, photocatalytic oxidation can be a force enabler in the food industry. Conceivably, every fruit & vegetable storage warehouse and chill box could contain one or more UV air purifiers to oxidize the space, break up ethylene, and extend shelf-life. UVSheltron manufactures and sells just such devices.


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  • Aerosol Disinfection: Pure Air 500 & Pure Air 200—These devices are the patented and proprietary UV air purifiers called “Pure Air,” and they have been laboratory tested by the Public Health Agency of Canada and hospital tested by Wake Forest University.  They come in two models and can disinfect rooms as large as 4,000 sq ft of airborne pathogens and break up ethylene…. perfect for not only food service storage spaces but also common spaces such as waiting rooms, cafeterias, and conference rooms.  These devices draw in the contaminated air and use UV-A and a proprietary titanium dioxide catalyst to kill pathogens through Photocatalytic Oxidation…in other words, airborne organic pathogens, micro-bacteria, and other airborne substances are oxidized on the catalytic source. Clean air is then propelled into the space, and this air is free of ethylene. The devices can run 24/7 and all operations are internal to the devices to include the UV light and oxidation.  There are no harmful emissions such as Ozone or Hydrogen Peroxide. Pure Air purification systems are certified by the California Air Resources Board for meeting EPA ozone emissions safety standards for air purifiers.

  • UVSheltron: Please visit our website at the following link to learn more about UVSheltron’s Pure Air technology.


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