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06/11/2024 13:00

Plasma in storage protection: How pests and mold are controlled in a real-life silo

Stefan Gerhardt Referat Kommunikation
Leibniz-Institut für Plasmaforschung und Technologie e.V.

    Neubrandenburg – June 11, 2024: Great confidence in the work of Neubrandenburg researchers: The Ministry of Education and Research has given the green light to another flagship project of 'PHYSICS FOR FOOD – EINE REGION DENKT UM!‘ With funding of around 200,000 euros, the researchers are currently continuing to work on improving the storage protection of our grain harvests – especially on a scale that could be of interest to users. Plasma is used to treat grain in a silo to combat pests such as the grain weevil and fungal spores.

    The need is huge: the use of chemical pesticides to control pests and fungal spores is gradually being restricted and banned, as it is throughout the agricultural and food industry. For some areas of application, there are as yet no available alternatives, for example for the use of toxic hydrogen phosphide before grain exports or for organic farming. However, extreme weather conditions such as heat, drought and flooding are currently on the increase, as are crop losses and pest and mold infestations. The PHYSICS FOR FOOD alliance, which was initiated with the Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) in Greifswald and other business partners in the region, is researching environmentally friendly physical methods in order to find an environmentally conscious answer to the challenges of the future.

    For the new lead project BIG STORAGE, led by Florian Wald from the Center for Nutrition and Food Technology (ZELT) gGmbH, the researchers from Neubrandenburg are making use of the fundamental findings from the PHYSICS FOR FOOD & FEED lead project: they have shown that grain weevils and fungal spores can be controlled using cold atmospheric plasma in a demonstrator silo that was put into operation around one and a half years ago. The silo initially used had a capacity of around 2 tons. "The granary weevil and other pest species were initially inactivated in the silo and later completely controlled. We were also able to observe a steady decrease in the contamination of fungal spores. According to these results, the grain can therefore be stored for longer and storage fungi can potentially be controlled," says Florian Wald, explaining the results of the trials.

    In BIG STORAGE, the name says it all. At a regional, organic feed producer, the new goal is to treat a silo chamber with 47 cubic meters (around 30 tons of grain) with plasma and demonstrate its benefits. The plasma air enters the chamber through a special device that will be completed in 2024. This means that ambient air is activated with plasma by the device and then fed into the silo chamber. The highlight: "From research to practice: this new project supports our approach of researching and supporting new pesticide-free technologies and processes and reinforcing their transfer to industry. This is also an important signal for users," says Florian Wald, looking ahead.


    The Neubrandenburg University of Applied Sciences, the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) and commercial enterprises launched the 'PHYSICS FOR FOOD - A REGION THINKS AROUND' project in 2018. Since then, the alliance has been working with numerous other partners to develop new physical technologies for agriculture and food processing. Atmospheric pressure plasma, pulsed electric fields and UV light are used.

    The aim is to optimize agricultural raw materials and reduce pollutants in food production, reduce chemical seed dressings and strengthen plants against the consequences of climate change. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research as part of the 'WIR! - Wandel durch Innovation in der Region' initiative (funding reference 03WIR2810).


    Paulina Druse, Public Relations PHYSICS FOR FOOD
    Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP)
    Felix-Hausdorff-Straße 2, 17489 Greifswald
    Tel: +49 170 2600543, e-mail:

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    Criteria of this press release:
    Business and commerce, Journalists, Scientists and scholars
    Nutrition / healthcare / nursing, Physics / astronomy, Zoology / agricultural and forest sciences
    transregional, national
    Research projects, Transfer of Science or Research



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