Environmentally-friendly seed sterilisation

Commercial potential finalist

Dr Felipe Iza and Dr Alex Shaw – Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

A novel process for sterilising seeds could greatly enhance global food security.

Current methods used to sterilise seeds – to prevent diseased and failed crops – are slow, costly and can reduce germination rates. Most rely on the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides; many of which are facing bans due to their detrimental environmental and human side effects.

The Loughborough research team’s non-vacuum plasma technology is a simple, low-cost and environmentally-friendly seed sterilisation process that eliminates the need for toxic chemicals.

It has been tested to industry standards at laboratory scale with support and guidance from leaders in the sector.

Market research with leading multinational seed companies demonstrates a strong need for the technology, and options to facilitate and accelerate its commercialisation are currently under consideration.

The novel seed sterilisation process could soon be helping to satisfy the world's growing food demand while addressing concerns about the environmental and health impact of current chemical-based disinfection processes.