The Midlands has a fine tradition in engineering and food technology, so start-up Zayndu is delighted to be short-listed as an innovator in two categories of the LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards 2022. The company has created the world’s first ‘activated air’ seed sterilisation system that provides a dry alternative to chemical treatments or washing.
Increasingly microgreens, herbs and baby leaved salads are being grown in vertical farms, which could be located in warehouse facilities close to restaurants and centres of population. If these indoor farms are kept free of pests then crops can be grown without the need for chemicals.
Zayndu is a spin-out from Loughborough University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering. CEO Ralph Weir says: “The UK is at the forefront of agri-tech innovation and our technology uses an engineering approach to reduce the use of chemicals in food production. We are attracting international interest from pioneers of vertical farming who are looking for a way to produce salads and other crops in cleanroom conditions.”
Bacteria and fungi can hide within the coating of seeds. Zayndu’s technology cleans the seed thoroughly and boosts their performance – the treated seeds germinate and grow more quickly, with higher yield and reduced losses.
Zayndu’s first product, the Aurora Z10, uses a low energy plasma.
Just like the vivid natural phenomenon of the aurora, or ‘northern lights’, the Zayndu technology passes a current of electricity through air, splitting oxygen and nitrogen molecules into individual atoms and creating a plasma. This ‘activated air’ – technically a blend of Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species (RONS) – is a powerful disinfectant.
Ralph explains: “The RONS are desperate for something to latch onto and will tear apart bacteria, fungi or viruses present in the chamber. The seeds are not affected as they are protected by their thick walls, so the only things coming out of the chamber are cleaned seeds and fresh air.”
The LeicestershireLive Innovation Awards are to be held on the 24th February at the King Power Stadium in Leicester. Zayndu is shortlisted in the Manufacturing and Engineering category and the Food and Drink Manufacturing category
More information about the awards is available at leicestershireliveinnovationawards.co.uk