Soil Disinfestation Steam Generator

Precision Combustion, Inc. (PCI) is developing a low-emission, propane-fueled, direct-fired steam generating tool for soil disinfestation. This tool replaces pre-planting chemical fumigant applications for pest and weed control.

Steam has long been known as a highly effective method to control insects, nematodes and weeds but, up until now, it has not been possible to do so in a practical, cost effective manner for large acreage applications. The ability to safely control soil pests, weeds, and pathogens with steam, without the need for toxic fumigants, will enable effective cultivation of agricultural lands while eliminating or reducing food, worker, and surrounding non-farm area exposure to hazardous chemicals. Specifically with respect to organic produce, our soil disinfestation with steam will improve yields and quality while enabling growers to maintain their organic certification.

The product builds upon our extensive experience in catalytic combustors. Utilizing readily available propane or natural gas as a fuel source, we pass water through a chamber containing a proprietary catalyst bed which, in turn, generates large volumes of steam. This steam is conveyed to the soil via an applicator that controllably delivers the steam at an appropriate temperature and depth, thereby raising the soil temperature to a level that destroys undesirable pests and weeds. 

PCI's catalytic combustor operates on propane, but can be adapted to other fuel sources. It does not require treated water, as conventional boilers do. Catalytic combustors are much more efficient than boilers in converting the energy of the fuel into usable steam. In addition to being more cost effective, emissions are significantly lower. Our product is integrated with other balance-of-plant equipment onto a self-propelled or tractor-pulled compact machine for high-rate high-efficiency steam treatment of planting beds and soils, suitable for large scale agricultural use.

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Advantages of PCI's Catalytic Steam Generation Technology

Summarizing the advantages of PCI's catalytic steam generation technology as applied to soil disinfestation:

  • Easily generate temperatures required for pest and weed control;
  • Significant energy savings from delivering full higher heating value of the fuel to the soil over conventional boilers;
  • Zero hydrocarbon emissions, with low-single-digit ppm CO and NOx levels;
  • Compact and lighter in weight than conventional boilers;
  • Injection temperature can be controlled to produce super-heated steam for optimized disinfestation.

Contact PCI to learn more about how our solutions may be adapted for your needs.