CBH Group has signed a breakthrough agreement with an emerging, Perth-based biosecurity company to trial new, sustainable fumigation technology that could one day be used to protect grain stocks around the world. The company inked a collaboration agreement with Universal Biosecurity Limited to co-develop ethyl formulate solutions for “sustainable and cost-effective” pest control across the CBH Group supply chain, from farm to port. UBL’s patented ethyl formulate-based Fume 8 technology was developed as an alternative to widely-used fumigation methods using methyl bromide — a colourless gas now being phased out in 175 countries. UBL chief executive Tom Puddy said the technology had proven to be “highly effective” on insects and a much cheaper and faster acting alternative to methyl bromide and phosphine. CBH has been working with UBL in recent months to roll out the technology across its supply chain. “The agreement signifies CBH Group’s commitment to work with us to further refine our technology to ensure it is fit for purpose and delivers on its significant environmental promises,” Mr Puddy said. Fume8 technology — developed by Murdoch University researchers — injects nitrogen gas into a stream of liquid ethyl formate through an electronically controlled mixing chamber. The residue breaks down into natural — rather than toxic — compounds and a standard sea container can be fumigated and ready to move in less than six hours compared to more than 24 hours with methyl bromide. Qube is already using the technology for US oil and gas giant Chevron, across across all of its Barrow Island operations off the coast of WA, and UBL is in talks with Chinese officials about using it to protect grain stocks. UBL was invited to trial its technology by the Chinese government’s strategic grain reserve, which has capacity to store more than 650 million tonnes, in late 2019 just before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CBH agreement includes an initial three-year joint program run by both companies to develop new fumigation methods across the grains supply chain, including at CBH’s upcountry storage and port terminals. Mr Puddy said it was timely for CBH to consider adopting the new technology when there was “more scrutiny” on the use of harmful chemicals across the raw material food supply chain. “Many major food and beverage companies and governments are now voluntarily auditing the supply chain process as demand grows for increasing transparency,” he said. CBH grain technology head Craig McLure — who works at CBH’s Australian Grains Centre in Forrestfield — said the agreement would expand CBH’s suite of environmentally-safe insect treatment options. It would also help the co-operative meet its customers’ and markets’ for chemical residues for grain. “As the country’s largest grain exporter, we are continually looking for ways to sustainably improve our operational processes,” he said. “This (includes) ensuring we are adhering to and exceeding the most stringent environmental standards, and our export markets’ chemical residue limits.” Mr Puddy said UBL’s technology aimed to help various industries experiencing logistical bottlenecks when moving cargo and raw materials across biosecurity boundaries. “The international grain supply chain, along with other supply chains, is being challenged by a major weather events and environmental fluctuations,” he said. “As well, it will help to attempt to counter the impact of geo-political instability such as the ongoing war in Ukraine. “These factors will continue to cause ongoing supply issues and shortages globally and has the potential to lead to impactful delays in getting raw material to growing markets.” Other target markets include North and South America, the European Union and closer to home with major producers across the Asian region.