Ensuring that perishables such as fresh fruit and vegetables remain in good condition throughout transit and storage is an ongoing challenge for global food suppliers. Products from non-native markets may deteriorate due to extended exposure to heat and humidity in storage containers, or to ongoing metabolization. This can be monitored and controlled using gas sensing controls.
Gas Sensing and Perishable Goods
Ongoing gas sensing technologies can monitor and manipulate the atmospheric conditions of storage containers to reduce the respiratory rates of harvested fruit and vegetables and extend the maturation process. It is possible to diminish the metabolic rates of such perishable cargoes by up to 30% by maintaining oxygen levels at just 2% of a controlled atmosphere container. Limiting the availability of oxygen extends the shelf life of fresh products and maintains their quality for extended periods.
However, these gas sensing technologies must operate to extremely tight tolerances to ensure oxygen composition does not drop below a minimum threshold. Atmospheres of below 2% oxygen are characterized as anaerobic. Fruit and vegetables stored in such conditions for even a short period of time will begin to convert pyruvic acid into lactic acid, which builds up in tissues and can cause off-flavors. Longer periods of exposure can cause premature senescence.
“ongoing gas sensing technologies can monitor and manipulate the atmospheric conditions of storage containers”
Gas Sensing with SST Sensing
SST’s OXY-COMM Zirconia Oxygen Analyser is designed for ultra-precise gas sensing in controlled atmospheres such as refrigerated cargo containers. It can accurately measure oxygen content across a range of 0.1 – 100% with a measuring resolution of 0.01%. This ensures that a consistent threshold of oxygen concentration is maintained to delay the maturation of fruit and vegetables without impacting their edible quality.
SST offers a wide range of oxygen sensing solutions with a choice of housing style and electrical connections. No reference gas is required, and easy single-point calibration of zirconium dioxide oxygen sensors can be performed in fresh air. They can function accurately in a range of harsh operating environments and are fully-RoHS compliant for use in controlled atmosphere applications for edible products.
The OXY-COMM sensor uses a small sensing element that is non-depleting for long service in demanding environments.