Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Laser makes sure food is fresh

20.10.2011
Minced meat, bread, fruit juice and many other foods are packaged in a protective gas which extends their shelf life.

There is currently no good method to check whether the packaging has the correct gas content. However, researchers in Atomic Physics and Packaging Logistics have developed a new laser instrument which could solve the problem. The first product is expected to be ready for market launch later in the autumn.

“It will be the first non-destructive method. This means that measurements can be taken in closed packaging and the gas composition over time can be checked. This will make it possible to check a much higher number of products than at present”, says Märta Lewander, Doctor of Atomic Physics at Lund University in Sweden.

Dr Lewander developed the technique in her thesis and now works as chief technical officer for the company Gasporox, which is commercialising the technology.

Today, spot checks are performed on individual samples, with the risk that damaged products could slip through.

“We hope that, in the long term, this type of equipment could also help to stop people throwing so much food away, because they would know that it is packaged as it should be”, she says.

The product that will be launched in the autumn could be used to check and improve how airtight packaging is. Gasporox estimates that within two years the method could also be used as a means of quality control in production when products are packaged. In the future, shops could also use it to check the shelf life of their goods.

No plastic packaging is 100% airtight. How easily oxygen can enter depends on both the material and how well sealed the packaging is.

“It has been shown that part-baked bread, for example, doesn’t always meet the mark”, says Annika Olsson, Professor of Packaging Logistics at Lund University.

The technology can measure through almost all packaging materials.

“As long as light can pass through then we can measure. Almost all materials allow at least some light to pass. Even packaging that contains aluminium foil, for example some fruit juice cartons, often has some part that is not covered by the foil”, says Märta Lewander.

At Lund University, research in the field is continuing. Patrik Lundin, a doctoral student in Atomic Physics, is now focusing on measuring carbon dioxide in packaging.

“It is important to measure both oxygen and carbon dioxide. Oxygen is most important, but there is also interest in carbon dioxide from the industry”, says Märta Lewander.

The development work has been financed by several research grants from bodies including Vinnova and by private entrepreneurs and investors. The product that is being developed by Gasporox is manufactured by a part-owner of the company, the Norwegian company Norsk Elektro Optikk.

How the technology works:

The protective atmosphere that surrounds the food product in the packaging usually comprises carbon dioxide or nitrogen and contains little or no oxygen. Oxygen leads to oxidisation, bacteria growth and decay. By shining a laser beam into the packaging and studying the light that comes back, it is possible to see if the composition of the gas is correct. The laser beam measures the amount of oxygen.

The laser is connected to a handheld unit which is held against the sample. A handheld detector measures the light that comes out of the packaging and sends a signal to a computer.

The technology is based on a technique for measuring the gas composition of samples containing cavities. An early application was to diagnose sinusitis, by enabling doctors at a primary health centre to find out whether the sinuses were full of gas as they should be. Clinical studies have confirmed that the technique works, and this application is expected to be on the market within a year or two.

Background:
The idea of using lasers to measure food packaging came about by chance, when Sune Svanberg, Professor of Atomic Physics at Lund University and the father of this laser technology, met Annika Olsson, then a Reader in Packaging Logistics, on a management course at Lund University a few years ago. When they told one another what they worked with, they began to brainstorm possible areas of collaboration. At the time, there was a fierce debate going on in Sweden on the repackaging of minced meat by a major supermarket chain.

For more information, see www.gasporox.com or contact CTO Märta Lewander, +46 702 951113, ml@gasporox.se, or CEO Maria Göth mg@gasporox.se, +46 702 954596.

High resolution photographs of Märta Lewander, Patrik Lundin and Annika Olsson are available in the Lund University image bank, http://bildweb.srv.lu.se/.

Megan Grindlay | idw
Further information:
http://bildweb.srv.lu.se/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View
22.06.2018 | University of Sussex

nachricht New cellular pathway helps explain how inflammation leads to artery disease
22.06.2018 | Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Temperature-controlled fiber-optic light source with liquid core

In a recent publication in the renowned journal Optica, scientists of Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT) in Jena showed that they can accurately control the optical properties of liquid-core fiber lasers and therefore their spectral band width by temperature and pressure tuning.

Already last year, the researchers provided experimental proof of a new dynamic of hybrid solitons– temporally and spectrally stationary light waves resulting...

Im Focus: Overdosing on Calcium

Nano crystals impact stem cell fate during bone formation

Scientists from the University of Freiburg and the University of Basel identified a master regulator for bone regeneration. Prasad Shastri, Professor of...

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Graphene assembled film shows higher thermal conductivity than graphite film

22.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

Fast rising bedrock below West Antarctica reveals an extremely fluid Earth mantle

22.06.2018 | Earth Sciences

Zebrafish's near 360 degree UV-vision knocks stripes off Google Street View

22.06.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>