Nicolas Keller, Marie-Noelle Ducamp, Didier Robert and Valerie Keller explain that fruits, vegetables and flowers are still alive after harvest.
They produce and release into the air ethylene gas, which fosters ripening and blooming.
Ethylene is the basis of the household trick of speeding the ripening of green fruit by placing it in a sealed bag.
When released into storage and shipping containers, however, ethylene causes unwanted ripening, spoilage and financial losses.
As part of a worldwide effort to find better ways of controlling ethylene, Keller and colleagues reviewed almost 300 published studies and compared all existing ethylene control/removal methods and technologies.
They concluded that photocatalysis offers the greatest potential for removing ethylene and preserving produce, both on Earth and during spaceflights.
With the method that enters into the field of sustainable development, a catalyst and light act together to remove ethylene by transforming it into carbon dioxide and water.
The research is published in the ACS journal Chemical Reviews.