Jim “Banana Jim” Still, who invented tarpless ripening, believes the future of banana ripening lies in the better use of sensors to further automate the process.

“We are using ethylene sensors to control gassing, which allows us to use the minimum amount of gas to get the job done,” said Still, president of Media, Pa.-based Global Cooling Inc.

“Why use 1 quart of ethylene liquid to ripen if 1 ounce is more than enough?”

He said using less ethylene helps to preserve the freshness of products stored outside the ripening room doors, which can be damaged by exposure to too much ethylene.

Sensors are not yet widely used, he said.

“We have been using them for three-plus years and are slowly starting to ramp them up in ripening rooms.”

He’s working on projects in South Korea, Australia and the U.S. city Phoenix.

Still said Global Cooling also is reversing airflow to provide more uniform ripening.

“There is a colder side and a warmer side to every pallet,” he said, “so when you reverse airflow, it evens things out for more uniform ripening.”

He said he borrowed the idea from ripening rooms in the European Union, where it has been used for years.

In Jamaica, Still has converted a 40-foot shipping container into a portable Ripe-Anywhere ripening room for JP Fruit Distributors Ltd., Dartford, England.

“We get around,” he said.