As described in inventions of Sylvester L. Steffen, chillcuring is an electrical ventilating process that facilitates the photoelectric after-ripening of bulk stored seeds. The ventilation process is controlled by monitoring the wet-bulb temperature of air around the grain (as measured by evaporative cooling), by which the grain is brought to equilibrium moisture and temperature with atmospheric air. Seed dormancy is better maintained at cooler (chill) atmospheric temperatures, and grain weight and seed vigor are better preserved. The after-ripening of seeds is a biochemical process of carbohydrate/protein stabilization associated with the chemical release of water (H:OH), a reverse process of hydrolysis. The triatomic molecules of water and carbon dioxide are especially reactive in attenuating infrared light-spectrum waves, which provides energy necessary in photosynthesis and (curing) after-ripening. Infrared electrical heat is supplied by “grainlamps” so as to energize water vapor in the air under high humidity conditions.
The Steffen Patents were at issue in federal lawsuits in Minnesota, Indiana and Iowa. The validity of the Steffen Process Patents was upheld. The chillcuring process was marketed from the 1960s into the late 1990s by Harvestall Industries, Inc., an agribusiness of the former and now deceased Speaker of the Iowa House of Representatives, Vincent B. Steffen.
- "Natural-air drying of shelled corn catches on despite mixed reviews...". Lancaster Farming (Penn State University, ActivePaper Archive). February 10, 1979. Retrieved 2009-08-14.
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