Bi-On is an air filtration media used in fruit and vegetable sold storage to eliminate harmful volatile compounds, especially ethylene, and sanitize the air. The filtration media is composed of potassium permanganate, its active ingredient, and natural clays.
Potassium permanganate is a chemical compound which is widely known for its oxidizing and disinfectant properties. It is used in the treatment of waste water, both for the elimination of compounds that are toxic, corrosive or cause unpleasant odours, and to reduce the number of micro-organisms. Its antimicrobial action is due to its capacity for releasing oxygen in the presence of organic material. Because of its antifungal and antibacterial properties, it is also used in medical applications and as a fumigation agent in laboratories, poultry farms and hospital wards.
In fruit and vegetable cold storage, potassium permanganate exerts direct antimicrobial action on the airborne organisms that pass through the Bi-On filtration media, with reductions by a factor of 10 (90%). In addition, the Bi-On filtration media indirectly reduces rotting in the fruit and vegetables, eliminating ethylene and other volatiles from the air. This is because, as described in the scientific literature, it interferes with the following physiological processes:
- The ripening or ageing of the fruit and vegetables, a process stimulated by ethylene (a vegetable ripening hormone) which brings with it the softening of the tissues, making microbial infection possible.
- The germination of different fungal spores that are pathogenic to fruit, a process that is stimulated in the presence of ethylene and other gases in the air, which act as chemical signals.
- The emission of high quantities of ethylene by ripe and diseased fruit and by the pathological micro-organisms themselves, which affects the rest of the stored products, making them more susceptible to microbial attack.
Several scientific studies such as that included below, carried out by IRTA, demonstrate the effect of the Bi-On® filtration medium on the rate of rotting in fruit and vegetables. It is studies like this, rather than those that only measure the reduction in the number of micro-organisms in the air, which truly demonstrate the effectiveness of the product. This is because the aim of applying technologies like that offered by Bioconservacion, which are based on the absorption of ethylene and VOCs together with antimicrobial action, is to reduce the loss of fresh produce due to rotting. As shown graphically in the study of IRTA , they get 67% reduction in rotting in fruits.
Effect of Bi-On on the incidence of rotting in two varieties of mandarin stored at 3ºC for 15 days in commercial cold storage [IRTA 2011]