Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Using electrons to treat organic seeds

Sales of organic products are booming: Consumers want their food to be untainted. To avoid the use of fungicides yet nevertheless protect plants from disease, researchers have developed a method that involves bombarding seeds with electrons to kill fungal spores and viruses.

Whereas a few years ago, organic products were sold exclusively by small health-food stores, they can now be found in the majority of supermarkets. A growing number of consumers prefer to buy organic food that has been grown without the use of chemical pesticides.

Conventional farming practice involves treating seeds with a mixture of chemicals: Fungicides to protect the emerging seedlings from attack by microscopic fungi, insecticides against wireworms, aphids and biting insects, herbicides to suppress weeds. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP in Dresden have developed an alternative to fungicide treatment.

“If cereal crops succumb to disease, this is usually due to microscopic fungi and spores present on the outer surface and in the husk of the seeds. Instead of using chemical products to eradicate these spores, we make use of accelerated electrons,” says FEP team leader Dr. Olaf Röder. So what happens when the electrons hit the seeds? “It’s not unlike cooking.

For instance, when you make strawberry jam, the germs are killed by the high temperature – and your jam will keep for years. The electrons destroy the chemical bonds that hold together the molecules in the fungal spores and other pathogens, but without generating heat. You might say that they cause the molecules to explode,” explains Röder.

The plant developed by the researchers exposes the seed to electrons as it falls through the treatment zone. It is capable of treating 30 metric tons of seeds per hour – or disinfecting the entire surface of around 200,000 individual seeds per second. But the greatest challenge is not the speed of the process: “Plant seeds are living organisms. If we damage the plant embryo, the seed will not germinate. We therefore have to dose the energy of the electrons very precisely, to ensure that they penetrate no further than the outer layers of the seed,” says Röder.

The researchers are disinfecting around 5,000 metric tons of seeds per year in collaboration with seed growers Schmidt-Seeger-GmbH. “Our method has been approved for use in conventional arable farming, and is even recommended for use in organic farming. We are planning to set up a spin-off company to take over and expand these production activities,” reports Röder.

At the Parts2Clean fair from October 28 to 30 in Stuttgart, the research team will be demonstrating numerous other disinfecting and sterilization technologies for the pharmaceutical and medical engineering industries, in addition to the e-ventus technology for seeds described above (Hall 7, Stand H 802 / I 903).

Dr. Olaf Röder | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital

nachricht Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>