The Wageningen Food & Biobased Research institute has more than 25 years of experience in developing interactive storage systems for fruit and vegetables. These systems often work with parameters such as temperature, humidity, oxygen and carbon dioxide. There is a great need to monitor other gases as well, for example those that indicate decay or fermentation. That is why researcher Ernst Woltering is happy to participate in the QCAP project as an associate partner. Here, he explains his role and points out what the QCAP detector could mean for the fruit and vegetable sector.
How did you get involved in the project?
“Previously, we collaborated with the major players in the field of storage systems, such as Storex. We also already worked on several projects with Frans Harren of Radboud University in Nijmegen, the project leader of QCAP. He has the physical knowledge that is needed to build and optimise the gas detector. This project is therefore a logical next step in a sustainable collaboration.”
What do you contribute to the QCAP project?
“Within our institute there is a lot of knowledge of the biochemical processes in fruit and vegetables. We use this expertise to determine which gases provide the most information on the quality, but also to determine when there is a relevant change in the mixture of gases. For example, what does it mean if a certain gas concentration rises by 10%? Does the atmosphere in the storage space need to be adjusted, or does
the product need to be sold? We have to determine this for each type of product.”
What makes QCAP so innovative?
“QCAP is developing a user-friendly device to detect gases that, at present, are only measurable in a research setting. What is particularly important is that the new detector makes it possible to monitor all these gases with one device in a completely automatic process. This will make a large amount of data available, resulting in much more accurate quality measurements. Ultimately, this leads to less food being wasted.”
Which characteristics should the new monitoring system have?
“The detector must be useable in practice. That sounds simple, but the practice is very diverse which includes dealing with different products, orchards, harvests, geographical locations and storage areas. Sometimes one room contains multiple products or harvests. That is why we need to work on a self-learning software package that can adapt the monitoring to any situation. If we succeed, QCAP can have a significant impact on the fruit and vegetable sector.”