WHAT IS ‘DYNAMIC CONTROLLED ATMOSPHERE’ (KNOWN AS DYNAMIC CA)?
...a new development for controlled atmosphere storage.
For 100 years controlled atmosphere has been used for prolonging the storage life of fruit and vegetables, primarily apples and pears. Controlled Atmosphere (CA) involves manipulating the amount of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide in the air surrounding the produce held in a cold store at the correct temperature.
The precise levels of O2 and CO2 are different for every cultivar and have been carefully determined by years of research and testing. These pre-determined values are then issued as a recommendation from the testing scientists to the fruit storage industry as a “menu” which can be relied upon to give good results for 99% of the fruit stored.
Because the “menu” conditions have to take into account the natural variability of growing season, orchard nutrition, location and many other factors they are by definition a conservative recommendation for all occasions. It is very probable that in individual cases the gas levels could be more extreme, so permitting a longer storage life and better fruit quality. However because of the variability it is necessary in these conditions to check that the fruit in each storage room remains in good condition and is not being damaged by the very low oxygen surrounding the fruit.
The SafePod® technology has the potential to extend the storage life of fresh produce beyond traditional CA capabilities. As its name suggests, the system is a type of ‘pod’ that is placed inside CA storage rooms.
SafePod® can be used to detect the thresholds of the tolerance of apples to low oxygen - where the oxygen concentration becomes too limiting a sudden rise in fruit carbon dioxide is observed; the store operator then raises the oxygen level a little until respiration drops. What is more, because the tests are performed on the apples within the pod, fruit in the main store is not placed under stress while safe oxygen limits are determined. Once a safe oxygen concentration for the fruit in the pod has been determined, the oxygen concentration within the store is matched with the pod atmosphere.
Last year ICA Ltd formed a consortium with scientists from the Produce Quality Centre (PQC) - a collaboration between the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich and East Malling Research (EMR), and A C Goatham & Son, Avalon Produce Ltd and Sainsbury’s, to fully trial and develop the limitations and benefits of DCA. For the last 18 months, ICA has been working on its SafePod® DCA system and, for the past six months - with the consortium, has been receiving co-funding from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, for a three year Agri-Tech Catalyst research project.
To read more about the development and trails on our SafePod system click here
For more infomation please call +44 (0)1892 831 702 or email: tech@ICAstorage.com.