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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Retaining Export and Food Security of U.S. Specialty Crops: Low-Emission Methyl Bromide Fumigations for Quarantine and Pre-Shipment Uses

Location: Commodity Protection and Quality

2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
Develop novel sorbents, destructive catalysts, and combustion techniques to eliminate the atmospheric input of the most widely used quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) fumigant, MB.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Utilizing a cooperative effort between USDA-ARS, industry, Yale University, Conneticut Agricultural Experiment Station, and U California at Berkeley, research in the context of retaining specialty crops exports that have quarantine and pre-shipment (QPS) fumigation requirements. The team will develop a commercially viable, cost efficient and effective process to contain, destroy, or recapture/reuse methyl bromide and its alternatives following postharvest fumigations.


3.Progress Report:

This Assistance Type Cooperative Agreement was established to support Objective 1 of the in-house project and is related to finding postharvest methyl bromide (MB) alternatives and techniques for improving MB fumigations. MB is a highly effective post-harvest fumigant that has a long history of controlling insects and microorganisms across a wide variety of applications. MB released into the atmosphere is a major source of atmospheric bromine radical, which is a known ozone depletor, and all but the most critical of uses are banned by international agreement under the Montreal Protocol. In the instances that MB use is permitted, it would be beneficial to prevent the release of MB following the fumigation by trapping the effluent onto activated carbon or some other type of adsorbent material. Research evaluated whether heating carbon to "drive off" sorbed MB was necessary, as the heating cost is anticipated to account for a significant fraction of the operational costs of this process. Research demonstrated that a pathway exists for the destruction of MB on the carbon surface without heating the activated carbon. This research has resulted in several commercial partnerships and cooperative research and development agreements between industry, Yale University collaborators, and USDA scientists.


Last Modified: 9/1/2014
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