Ozone application in grain processing
Gaseous or liquid ozone is commonly used in processing of fruits and vegetables for inactivation of pathogenic or harmful microorganisms. The use of ozone for protection of cereal grains would be a response to an increasing concern on the use of hazardous pesticides for extermination of warehouse pests. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, increased immunity of insects and increased consumer demand for the grain free of chemicals forced grain processing companies to search for alternatives to the control of warehouse pests. It has been shown that constant use of pesticides impairs the natural biological control system, which engenders outbreaks of proliferation of insect pests, widespread development of insect immunity, undesirable effects on harmless organisms, threat to environment and human health.
The use of ozone for grain storage is promising from both environmental and cost-effectiveness perspectives. Processing by ozone is usually done in silos or granaries. Ozone diffusion into the interior of grains is dependant on the grain characteristics. In a grain filled silos (elevators) ozone can move crosswise or vertically in all three directions under impact of the ozone gas inflow rate and ozone adsorption in grains, and possible reactions of ozone decomposition. Ozone adsorption and subsequent penetration into grains is in correlation with several internal and external factors – properties of grain surface, microbial contamination, presence of pest insects, humidity, etc.
Fungicidal (mycotoxic) or mould contamination in cereal grains, alongside the quantity and quality damage incurred by microorganisms, is among the major issues related to the quality of grains. Microorganisms, present on the surface of or inside grains, reduce nutritional value of the product and give rise to metabolites (such as mycotoxins) which are hazardous to human and animal health. Farmers effectively apply ozone for the purpose of grain processing and storage, for killing mycotoxins and unwanted microflora (fungi and mould) in cereal grains and their products by using ozone generators manufactured by Ozono centras UAB.
Ozone has exceptional advantage in grain processing and presents a potential greener alternative to conventional toxins.