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Germany: Incorporation of antimicrobial technology tested in growing towers

Heraeus Precious Metals and aponix have demonstrated the successful incorporation of AGXX antimicrobial technology into PA6 high-performance plastic modules. Through this collaboration, aponix aims to further enhance the hygiene and safety of its modules, aligning with the growing industry standards for clean and efficient farming practices. The project is supported by ESA Space Solutions and the ESA Technology Broker Germany through the ESA Spark Funding initiative.

Contamination and sanitation can be challenging, especially in open urban farming setups. Thus, reducing or even eliminating biofilms on all surfaces is essential. aponix' new product line for vertical farming targets to protect against biofouling by using the innovative antimicrobial technology AGXX from Heraeus Precious Metals. The integration of the technology not only fosters overall cleanliness and hygiene but also increases its longevity, ensuring sustainable and long-lasting farming solutions.

Trial at Geisenheim University
In a recent trial, aponix has successfully integrated AGXX into its vertical farming elements out of polyamide 6. In the next phase, field trials will be carried out by the University of Geisenheim. Various modules will be tested to assess the impact of AGXX on germination, plant development, and overall plant growth. The trials include various solutions, such as modular wall-bound urban farming equipment and aponix' soilless Vertical Barrel, which uses modular vertical cylinders to organize grow spaces in three dimensions. The field trial will continue until mid-July, after which the results will be thoroughly evaluated.

The antimicrobial technology AGXX protects surfaces and textiles from germs and shows a long-lasting effect against bacteria, viruses, biofilm formation, as well as multi-resistant germs. Unlike conventional technologies, the mechanism of action of AGXX is based on a catalytic reaction and not on the release of substances such as metal ions. To date, antimicrobial efficacy has been demonstrated against more than 130 microorganisms, including silver-resistant E. coli strains.

The excellent effect of the technology in various materials, including water-absorbent plastics such as polyamide 6 and polyurethane, has been confirmed by numerous tests carried out by Heraeus partners in PA6 types, PU foams, textile coatings, and fibers. All AGXX concentrations tested showed an excellent antimicrobial effect, with the germ concentration being reduced by more than 99.9%.

Marie-Lena Harwardt, Co-Head of Antimicrobial Technologies at Heraeus Precious Metals, emphasized: "The successful collaboration with aponix aligns with our commitment to driving innovation and sustainability. By utilizing AGXX technology in aponix' modules, we strengthen our position in the agriculture industry. This partnership supports our goal of making a positive impact on global health and well-being."

With regard to the growing world population and to combating climate change, the need for innovative agricultural solutions like vertical farming has become increasingly critical. The Heidelberg-based company aponix provides a portfolio of modular devices for farming solutions enabling the cultivation of a wide variety of plants in high density, ecologically beneficial, and in close proximity to the consumers.

Marco Tidona, CEO of Aponix, added: "We are happy to partner with Heraeus Precious Metals on this groundbreaking project. With the incorporation of AGXX antimicrobial technology into our modules, we are taking a significant step toward creating hygienic and efficient farming solutions. This allows for better serving the growing market demand for innovative and sustainable farming methods."

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Heraeus Precious Metals 

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