Monday, 27 March 2017

Fruit Shaped Sensor can Improve Freshness of Fruits

Fruit Shaped Sensor
The main issues cargo companies face while shipping fresh fruits is the degradation of the cargo contents. Various factors can be responsible for fruits losing their freshness, contamination by bacteria and temperature being the primary causes. Fruits have to travel a long way before they reach shops and eventually to our homes. Not every cargo does reach safely; most of them perish on their way resulting in heavy losses to both suppliers as well as customers. To deal with this problem, researchers from Swiss federal laboratories for material Science and Technology have come up with a sensor device that looks exactly like a fruit!

The basic idea behind this sensor is to inform the transport firm about the conditions inside the cargo and if there is proper cooling. If any irregularities are found, the sensor alerts the firm to take immediate action. The device is identical to different types of fruits which include apples, oranges, bananas and mangoes at the moment. These are to be kept in with the real fruits inside the cargo container which in turn monitors the temperature.

Causes of spoilage

Temperature and external factors play a major role is spoiling the freshness of fruits. Cargos containing the fruits are often kept outside during layovers or change of transport. This can cause the contents to be exposed to external environmental factors such as heat and also different airborne microorganisms. Another cause can be attributed to power cut offs in transport or storage units which can affect the quality of the fruits being delivered. Exporters often use sensors to keep informed about the cargo temperatures but it can only give a generalized temperature reading. this is new sensor which is still in its trial days is more capable than its other counterparts as it can effectively simulate different characteristics of individual fruit types and give a detailed reading.

The making of the sensor

To prepare the device, researchers, first did a full x-ray of real fruits- apples, oranges, bananas and mangoes. The sensor devices were modeled exactly based on the texture and shape of the fruits.

The teams then went on to find out the composition of the fruits and were able to recreate each of the different fruit’s flesh by using a mix of carbohydrates, water and polystyrene.

Fruit shaped molds were then created using 3D printers and the mixture were poured and allowed to take the shape of the fruit. Sensors were fitted in the middle of the fruit molds.

The sensors would control the temperature data and readings for the whole transport process. If something goes wrong during the journey, suppliers can work out a solution from the temperature readings. Researchers are performing successful field tests and it won’t be long that these fruit sensors are commercialized, to be used by both big and small transit firms. The team hopes to reduce the cost and time of the logistics operation and help companies make amendments to sanitary protocols.

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