NanoFreeze Technology: Timelessness in Flower Bouquets And Beyond

By August 14, 2019

This article was produced by Hani Al-Hajari, the founder of Flower Secret, a service provider on a mission to change and improve the flower preservation process for the bridal bouquet industry.

Fresh flowers form a significant part of the floriculture industry. Every year, a staggering US$9.4 billion worth of them get exported globally. Whether for special occasions, such as birthdays, dates, graduations, and weddings or just to surprise a special someone, thousands of flowers are given every day. While there have been attempts to conserve bouquets to preserve the memory of these days, the quest for making flowers timeless has met no obvious success.

While common drying is the method we’ve been using for generations, its results can only be enjoyed for a couple of years at maximum. Freeze drying, on the other hand, has rapidly become a preferred choice, achieving better results with both time and aesthetics. This method maintains the original color shades for longer but still fails to fully eradicate decomposition of each flower fully. After decades of conducted research, it’s safe to say that nano-freezing technology could transform the flower preservation and other industries forever

Why do Conventional Methods of Preservation Fail?

The conventional flower preservation practices include water fortification, silica gel drying, hanging or air-drying. When it comes to water fortification, this method only extends the plant life temporarily. Flowers continue to absorb nutrients through the water but their life cycle is cut short – just as their stem were. 

Drying – by hanging, air or silica gel – guarantees more long-term results. Depending on the process and the type of flower, it can prolong the span to even several years. However, the dehydration tends to compromise the tactile beauty of the fresh bouquet, making it lose colors and become extremely fragile and prone to damage. Sadly – just like their living versions – dried flowers are not immune to pests and diseases. For example, powdery mildew is a common occurrence. There are multiple creative hacks on the internet advising on how to remove it, from bleach to sulfur and salt, that show us how urgently we need another solution.

Freeze-drying technology has presented a more advanced approach. Becoming a widely popular method for flower preservation, it’s fast and fairly effective. But even this treatment doesn’t bring durable results. The petal colors can start fading after a few months, depending on the intensity of the shade. 

The main reason why the conventional methods of preservation fail is due to their inability to combat the aging process. This comes from not taking into consideration the three main drivers of flower decay.  First, it is the flower cells microorganisms – bacteria, yeast, and mold – that have the capacity to break down the cell walls and damage the flower’s natural composition. Second, it’s the access to the medium itself: Allowing microorganisms to actually access and feast on the flower cells, making it wither away. Third, it’s the internal enzymatic reactions. These trigger and hasten the onset of decomposition. 

Understanding these reasons guides the way towards a solution. For example, as the irreversible wilting modifies the physiology of petals, we can observe an increased production of ethylene. Most commonly known as the ‘aging’ hormone, accelerating ripening, this enzyme can be controlled to delay the aging process. It functions normally under optimal pH levels and temperatures but any fluctuations can significantly affect its productivity, slowing it down. In this respect, the microbiologist George Pierce has already successfully manipulated enzymes to delay the wilting of fruits, vegetables, and fresh flowers. 

The NanoFreeze Technology

The NanoFreeze technology is built on the premise of battling the reasons for flower decay. It’s well known that nanotechnologies have the capacity to pervade the detailed scale at which the basic functions of organisms operate – individual atoms and molecules. Being able to manipulate matter on such a small scale (between 0.1-100 nanometers) brings an unprecedented level of understanding of the chemical processes and their drivers. 

The NanoFreezing technology can interrupt the cell decomposition process on the nano-molecular level. It’s due to such accuracy, combined with freezing power, why it has the potential to kill all present microorganisms, halt enzymatic reactions, and foster a protected environment that is unfriendly to parasites. This leads to the creation of a timeless piece that doesn’t lose its physical characteristics even for decades. 

Its process can be broken down into a few steps. First, each flower must undergo an elaborate hydration process. Subsequently, the presence of microorganisms has to be eliminated. The NanoFreeze technology targets the common plant predators precisely. But due to the presence of fluid, their future occurrence cannot be ruled out. For this reason, each flower is provided with special fluid treatment that keeps the microorganisms from re-growing. This is finalized by controlling each flower’s temperature and pH levels, together with applying a specialized freezing treatment that permanently alters the chemical properties of each flower. To conserve the results for long, airtight framing is installed to guarantee protection from the damaging environmental effects. 

A Great Potential

As of now, the NanoFreeze technology is mostly being used to preserve the perhaps most memorable bouquets – the wedding ones. While other wedding traditions may have been fading away, the affection towards bridal bouquets is not going away. It still takes a substantial part of the $2,629 average spending on flowers at each marital celebration. And keeping this memory has become an interesting business idea.

Scientists are also working on other applications of delaying the wilting, especially for shipping and display purposes for the flower industry and beyond. After all, the spoil mechanism for food are similar to wilting mechanisms of flowers. But actually, the opportunities are endless. The NanoFreeze technology is likely to play a role in interior design and artwork, transforming the concepts of greeting cards, gift boxes and bags, to incorporate real, long-lasting flowers. Likewise, it could become an invaluable tool for education purposes. Used in museums and schools, we could preserve animals and rare flowers in their original form. However, the area with perhaps the most impactful opportunities is healthcare. Whether it’s the cell treatment or finding ways to preserve human organs, there’s certainly a lot of research to be done. 

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company