A team of researchers from the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) has patented a device that makes it possible to estimate the quality losses that a perishable product may suffer during storage and transport. The system, developed as a sensor-based tool, has been tested during several land transport trips through Europe and in climatic chambers of the Institute of Plant Biotechnology of the UPCT using lettuce as a model, according to sources from the educational institution.
This device will make it possible to determine the quality of the agricultural product in real time and thus optimize its consumption, redirecting it, if necessary, to different markets and anticipating possible food waste.
The patent is one of the results of doctoral research carried out within the framework of the thesis of researcher María Teresa Martínez Zafra, directed by Roque Torres Sánchez, from the Department of Automation, Electrical Engineering and Electronic Technology, and co-directed by Francisco Artés Hernández, of the Department of Agronomic Engineering.
"Controlling the main environmental factors that affect the quality of perishable products is one of the main challenges of the food industry," said Artés.
In this sense, the researcher explained that temperature is the main factor that can affect the quality, but others, such as relative humidity and concentrations of various gases -ethylene, O2 and CO₂- "also play an important role in the post-harvest of horticultural products." For this reason, "the monitoring of these environmental factors is a key procedure to ensure quality throughout the product's entire shelf life and to evaluate any losses," he said.
For his part, Torres said that this system can be used in all stages of the cold chain thanks to its wireless communication architecture that records variables at multiple points.
Various companies in the Region have collaborated in the development of this thesis, such as Widhoc Smart Solutions, Fruca Marketing, Transportes Directos del Segura and Mesa Trans Transportes. In addition, this research received the UPCT's Call to Solve Challenges award in 2018.
Source: Europa Press / lavanguardia.com