Ethylene Gas: What is it and How to Eliminate it in Cold Storage Facilities

If you are running a cold storage facility, you know the importance of keeping the environment as clean as possible. Unfortunately, one of the biggest threats to this environment is ethylene gas. Ethylene gas can cause food to spoil prematurely and create an unpleasant odor in the facility. This blog post will discuss ethylene gas and how to eliminate it from your cold storage facility!

Ethylene gas is a colorless and odorless gas that is produced by fruits and vegetables. It is a plant hormone that promotes ripening especially with Climacteric fruits. Even small amounts can cause big problems. When fruits and vegetables ripen, they release the ethylene gas into the air. This gas can cause other fruits and vegetables to spoil prematurely. In addition, the ethylene gas can build up in cold storage facilities and create an unpleasant odor. Therefore, eliminating ethylene gas from your facility is essential to maintaining a cold and fresh environment.

There are a few ways to eliminate ethylene gas from your facility. The most effective way is to install a commercial air purification system. Air purification systems will remove ethylene gas from the air and keep your facility smelling fresh. Another way to eliminate ethylene gas from effecting fresh products is to keep ripening fruits and vegetables in a separate area from the rest of the facility. Purifying the air will prevent the ethylene gas from spreading and spoiling other foods.


How To Find The Best Commercial Air Sanitation To Eliminate Ethylene Gas

There are different types of technology as ethylene scrubbers in the market that will combat mold and ethylene gas. We will go over the types of technology available. In addition, we will go over how each one works to help you eliminate ethylene gas.

  • Carbon scrubbers
  • UV Air Purification systems
  • Ozone Generators
  • Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) purification technology
  • Bipolar Ionization
  • Dry Hydrogen Peroxide Purification systems
  • Foggers
  • Air filtration systems
  • ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) Technology


How do Carbon Scrubbers work?

This ethylene scrubber known as carbon or catalytic scrubbers work by using an electric fan to pull air from the environment through the carbon based catalyst granules. This catalyst then removes the ethylene gas (C2H4) from the air and returns the air back into the environment. These granules need replaced as their effectiveness reduces over time. This also can remove other gases like CO2. This can be a problem especially in controlled or modified atmosphere applications. This technology does not reduce or eliminate pathogens, but can reduce odors if maintenance is regular. In most cases multiple scrubbers are required to turn the air to have adequate ethylene reductions.


How does UV technology work?

Another ethylene scrubber is UV technology that uses ultraviolet light to kill bacteria, ethylene gas, and other microorganisms. UV is a safe and effective way to purify the air in cold storage facilities. However, Once the UV starts to get dusty, which can happen quickly, it will lose efficiency and significantly impact the light bulb’s irradiation. As a result, the dust covering the UV bulb will cause it to be less effective in sanitizing. Therefore, shadowing is a common issue with UV technology. Distance and exposure time to the light is required to be effective. They use a short ultraviolet light wave, which reacts with ethylene gas and kills it. To learn more about UV technology, please watch the video below!

How does an ozone generator work?

Ozone generators create ozone, a gas that makes three oxygen atoms. Ozone is a powerful oxidizer that can kill bacteria, ethylene gas, and other microorganisms in the air and surfaces in cold storage facilities. It also breaks down odors and smoke particles. However, it is not safe to use at high levels when people are present in the room, and after a few minutes, the ozone dissipates, and you have to keep reintroducing it. So this is most commonly used as a shock treatment. Click the video below to learn more about Ozone Generators!

How does Photocatalytic Oxidation (PCO) technology work?

PCO technology uses oxidation to get rid of organic contaminants in your industrial facilities’ air quality. Some claim they do surface sanitation. However, they only produce hydroxyl radicals & superoxide ions that exhaust from the unit. As a result, these do NOT reach very far to destroy ethylene gas, including viruses. It is similar to the NASA air purifier. Watch the video below to learn more about NASA air purification and PCO purifiers!

How does bipolar ionization work?

Another ethylene scrubber is bipolar ionization produces negative and positive ions that attach to particles in the air. Therefore, these ions cause the particles to clump together, making them easier to filter out of the air in cold storage facilities. Bipolar ionization effectively reduces allergens, removes smoke, ethylene, and odors, and breaks down harmful chemicals. However, it is not as effective at killing ethylene in a short amount of time. That is because negative and positive ions usually have a very short half-life.

Moreover, we have seen tests with these in the real world, and in most cases, they do not reach all the air and surfaces. So it is crucial to size these correctly and purchase multiple units for commercial cold storage facilities. Watch the video below to learn more about bipolar ionization.


How does Dry Hydrogen Peroxide work?

Dry hydrogen peroxide systems release a mist of hydrogen peroxide into the air. The hydrogen peroxide breaks down into oxygen and water, purifying the air and killing ethylene and other microorganisms. Dry hydrogen peroxide systems are safe for humans and animals, and they are effective at reducing mold, bacteria, and odors and breaking down harmful chemicals. However, it is ineffective in sanitizing surfaces in cold storage facilities long distances. The units currently on the market only produce deficient hydrogen peroxide levels.


How do foggers work?

Foggers release chemicals into the air that attach to contaminants. The fogged particles fall onto exposed surfaces and objects from the air. Foggers effectively reduce ethylene. However, that chemical sprayed into the environment dissipates after a few hours, and cold storage facilities or warehouse is at high risk of perishables being subject to ethylene again. If the facility is organic, there is a high chance of risk to the organic labeling.

How do air filtration systems work?

Air filtration systems remove ethylene gas from the air using filters. The filters are paper, cloth, or other materials. Air filtration systems effectively reduce mold, bacteria, and odors. However, they are not as effective at killing bacteria and ethylene. In addition, these air filtrations collect pathogens and ethylene, and when bacteria gets collected in a filter, it is still active, and bacteria can multiply on the filter. So be careful when replacing these filters.

How Does ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) Work?

There are 7 ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) to eliminate ethylene gas and odor as it passes through the air purifier. In addition, it sanitizes the air that comes out of the purifier, enters the environment, and continues to sanitize all surfaces it contacts. Here is the 2 stage process:

Phase 1- Primary Air Cleaning

Placed within your room’s airflow, air from the cold storage facility containing microorganisms enters the purifier’s internal chamber. As a result, The reaction chamber creates non-thermal plasma and generates ROS. ROS is comprised of 5 short-lived, highly Reactive Oxygen Species:

  • Atomic oxygen O(3P)
  • Singlet oxygen 1O2
  • Hydroxyl radical .OH
  • Superoxide O2-
  • Peroxynitrite ONOO-

These break down carbon-to-carbon bonds that sanitize the air and destroy all bacteria, molds, viruses, and other pathogens as they pass through the reaction chamber.

Phase 2- Secondary Surface & Air Cleaning

Provides Surface sanitation and continued Air sanitation. The purified air now diffused into the environment contains longer lived Reactive Oxygen Species:

  • Gas-phased H2O2 (GpHP) or dry hydrogen peroxide
  • Low concentration levels of O3 ozone

These combine and create Hydrogen Trioxide (H2O3) an Active Antimicrobial formed through the peroxone process. This H2O3 is very effective at sanitizing the surfaces and air 24/7.


ROS with H2O3 further sanitizes the room air and long-distance surfaces from the purifier. This industrial air purifier technology is the only one that can provide odor control, long-distance surface treatment, and purify the air all at once. Amazing right? To learn more, watch this video below!


If you are looking for a way to eliminate ethylene gas with ethylene scrubbers in your cold storage facilities, ROS air purification systems may be the best option. These systems not only purify the air but also sanitize surfaces organically 24/7. Contact a specialist today to learn how ROS air purification can help you achieve food safety and compliance.