Phosphine generator trial using external air dilution

  • R. F. Ryan VAPORFAZE, PO Box 4, Sans Souci NSW 2219, Australia. Email:
  • W. P. Shore GasApps Australia Pty Ltd, 6/20 Valediction Rd, Kings Park NSW 2148, Australia
  • C. J. E. Newman Grain Tech Systems, China, 8 Shun An Road South, Shun Yi District, Beijing, China


A commercial phosphine (PH3) generator manufactured by Beijing Liangmao Technology Development Company Limited, China was used in a fumigation trial on 5000 tonne bunker storage. The generator’s production of PH3 is controlled by the rate of dosing conventional aluminum phosphide (AlP) tablets into 100 kg water in the reaction chamber.

Because PH3 is flammable and explosive if certain a concentration is reached in air, it is usually mixed with carbon dioxide (CO2) in the weight ratio of 50:1. This trial’s objective was to minimise the amount of CO2 and dilute the generated PH3 with air. The PH3 generated is purged from the reaction chamber by a continuous low flow of regulated CO2 gas. The PH3-rich CO2 purge stream was fed into the suction inlet of an external venturi. A high pressure fan was used to produce the air flow through the venturi to create the vacuum to suck in and dilute the PH3 rich stream from the generator. The PH3 was diluted in the air-flow to ensure a non-flammable concentration of less than 1% (10.000 ppm) and thence fed directly into the bunker storage. The trial successfully demonstrated the viability of generating phosphine in this manner, and excellent results in PH3 concentration and distribution was achieved in very short time periods. The capacity of the generator was limited to 8 kg of AlP tablets, equivalent to 2.667 kg of PH3, or sufficient to fumigate 2667 m3 of grain at a dosage rate of 1 g/m3. A much larger version of the machine would be required to fumigate medium size bunker storages in the 10.000 to 15.000 tonne range. Notwithstanding, the generator offers an attractive package combining the speed and convenience associated with the use of gaseous PH3 with the low cost of AlP formulations.

Keywords: Phosphine fumigant, On-site generator, Metallic phosphide, Non-flammable

Section: Fumigation, Modified Atmospheres and Hermetic Storage