Towards an innovative storage monitoring system

A significant part of the fruit and vegetable production gets lost during the post-harvest process. Innovation stakeholders from the North-Western part of Europe are now joining forces to develop an affordable tool that could help farmers monitor the quality of their products in real-time. The new tool will contain a next-generation gas detector, which can measure eight different gasses released by the products. The QCAP project strives towards completing a prototype in 2019.

What gasses can be measured?
The detector will provide real-time information on gasses released during ripening (ethylene, CO2), fermentation (ethanol, acetaldehyde, ethylacetate), damage (ethane) and rotting (methanol, acetone). Together, these gasses give very precise information about the state of the product.

How will the detector work?
A laser light is sent through an atmosphere sample. Depending on the gasses in the sample, it will absorb a specific color of the light beam. By measuring the light output, the exact gas mixture will be determined, up until one gas particle out of 10.000.000 particles. The challenge in this project is to gain a ‘fingerprint’ of different types of gasses.

Will the monitoring system be user-friendly?
The complex data from the detector will be transformed in one very simple signal, for example a green light if the quality of the products is still excellent, and otherwise an orange or red light. In this way, the farmer knows exactly when to sell the product or how to adjust the storage atmosphere. The monitoring system will be tested and optimised together with farmers and storage facilitators.

For which products is the monitoring system designed?
Initially, the system will be applied to the storage of apples, pears, blueberries and potatoes, which represent a large part of the agro-food sector in North-West Europe. Nevertheless, it can be used for other fresh products.

How affordable is the system for farmers?
The return on investment is estimated at two to three years for an average storage room. The durability of the system is expected to be 10 years. Therefore, the product will have a significant economic value for the agro-food sector.

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