History of Controlled Atmosphere
There is some evidence to suggest that the ancient Egyptians and Samarians in the second century BC stored portions of their crop in sealed limestone crypts to prolong its storage life.
The first recorded experiments to control fruit ripening by changing the atmospheric conditions were carried out in France by Jacquet Beard in 1821. The results of the experiments won him the Grand Prix de Physique from the French academy of Sciences, but it failed to inspire any commercial application.
In the 1860’s a commercial storage operator in Cleveland, Ohio, called Benjamin M. Nyce limited the oxygen available in a sheet metal lined ice cooled store. He realized the fruit generated “Carbonic Acid” and he reported improved storage life and increased profits
In 1920 the partnership of Franklin Kidd and Cyril West at the University of Cambridge launched the first systematic studies of “gas storage” of fruit in the world and the science of post-harvest physiology. In 1925 the first of a series of classic papers (1925 – 1949) by Kidd and West, now at LTRS, on the gas storage of fruit using mixture of CO2 , O2 and N2 were published. During 1928 the Ditton laboratory was established in East Mallin, Kent and in 1929 the first commercial gas store for apples was built by a grower near Canterbury, Kent based on Kidd and West’s research. He successfully stored 30 tons of Bramley’s Seeing appels om 10% CO2 (nowadays still a recommend condition for this cultivar despite all the subsequent research.
By 1933 scientists from throughout the world began to study at the Ditton Laboratory. They returned home to adapt the ideas and techniques developed there. In 1934, after studying with Kidd, Eaves was made responsible for the fruit and vegetables work at the experimental farm in Kenville, Nova Scotia, introducing CA storage into North America. Smock, also worked with Kidd and West in 1930’s and returned to his native USA where he published a paper in 1938 called “The possibilities of gas storage in the United States’.
During the 1940’s a group of postharvest scientists assembled in New York decided to rename Franklin and Kidd’s “gas storage” as “Controlled Atmosphere (CA)” by which name it is known today.