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Intelligent air purification battles wasted fruit and vegetables

Put an avocado next to tomatoes or bananas to quickly mature the avocado. The cause of this effect is the tomatoes excretion of the signal molecule ethylene, which increases the maturation process of the avocado. This effect can be useful in some contexts but can also initiate an undesirable chain reaction in e.g. a whole container stored with fruit or vegetables.

Every year, more than 3 billion DKK worth of value fruit and vegetables are wasted during production, transport, storage or sale in Denmark. One of the reasons for this waste is the excretion of ethylene, which is released from fruit, vegetables and flowers during the ripening process.

By actively reducing the exposure of ethylene to some fruits or vegetables, some of this waste can be avoided. Therefore, a new project will look at the development of a new advanced air purifier that can help reduce food waste.

Through a collaborative partnership between Blue Ocean Robotics ApS, Alborg University, Develco Producs, the Danish Technical Institute, Gartneriet PKM, Alex Andersen Ølund, Aarstiderne and Salling Group, the aim is to develop a solution where one can partly monitor the levels of precisely ethylene during production, transport, storage and sale of fruit, vegetables and flowers, and partly remove the harmful ethylene from the air.

The project is based on the latest technologies in sensors, photocatalytic surfaces and UV diodes. These elements are further developed and combined in a design optimized by newly developed computer models that can predict the interaction between molecules and active surfaces in an air purification system. Blue ocean Robotics ApS is responsible for producing the air purification system itself, while Develco Products A/S develops the systems for controlling the sensors.

Intelligent air purification has great potential to help delivering the best quality products and to minimize fruit and vegetable waste.

Source: The Danish Technological Institute