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Fresh produce through Reduction of Ethylene during Storage and Handling
To speed up the ripening process of an avocado, you can store a tomato or banana next to it. This works, as tomatoes and bananas release a signal molecule called ethylene, which speeds up the ripening process of the avocado as well as other fruit and vegetables. Although this process can be useful in some contexts, it can, when left uncontrolled, start a chain reaction that can result in spoilage of entire containers or storages of fruit and vegetable
Enormous waste of food
Every year, fruit and vegetable waste from production, transport, storage and retail leads to a loss of more than 620,000 tons of produce amounting to more than DKK 3bn in Denmark alone. The build-up of ethylene in the air in confined spaces, where fruit, vegetables and flowers are stored, contributes significantly to food spoilage. Ethylene is a natural signalling molecule, which is released during the ripening of fresh produce, and even small concentrations of ethylene speed up the ripening process and lead to higher concentrations of ethylene, faster ripening etc. Therefore, a chain reaction leading to over-ripening is activated.
Vision towards efficient control
The vision of this project is to minimize this waste by enabling an efficient control and monitoring of ethylene levels, thereby avoiding premature ripening and spoiling, and thus, prolonging the in-store shelf life and quality of the produced goods. The improved quality and lifetime and the associated effect of improved transportation possibilities of the products will increase the competiveness of the Danish industry and provide access to the new markets. Overall, the solution will contribute to an efficient use of resources, which will have a significant impact on both the environment and the society.
Develco Products contributes to the research project by being the driver in the development of the sensor control systems and take part in developing tailored and scalable photocatalytic active surfaces for degradation of ethylene.
Development of air-cleaning system
The project will be based on state-of-the-art technologies within sensors, photocatalytic surfaces and UV-LEDs. Based on design parameters obtained from newly developed computer models capable of simulating flow properties as well as interactions between molecules and active surfaces, the surface and sensor elements will be further developed and combined into an air-monitoring and -cleaning unit.
Delivering the freshest products
Integrating the developed air-cleaning system with a network of modern ethylene sensors and other air quality sensors will enable improved monitoring and control of ethylene levels. In that way, spoilage originating from unwanted over-ripening due to ethylene can be avoided. Therefore, the project can strengthen the ability of export businesses to deliver fresh products of highest quality. In addition, Danish technology-based companies such as Blue Ocean Robotic and Develco Products will obtain a significant advantage in the global competition by gaining access to solutions that are beyond state-of-the-art within sensors and air-cleaning solutions.