Sensor could help prevent food spoilage and waste

Sensor could help prevent food spoilage and waste
May 13, 2020

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

A tiny quick-acting sensor could help the world reduce food waste, thanks to the work of American chemists.

Food industry stakeholders could use this sensor to monitor fruit and vegetables throughout production, a March Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) release said.   

The sensor is made of carbon nanotubes, which are semiconducting cylinders, that can detect ethylene gas in concentrations as low as 15 parts per billion. Plants produce ethylene as they get ready to bloom or as the crops start to ripen, the release said.

The sensor responds to this plant hormone almost immediately upon exposure.

“There is a persistent need for better food management and reduction of food waste,” Dr. Timothy Swager, a chemistry professor at MIT, said in the release.

“People who transport fruit around would like to know how it's doing during transit, and whether they need to take measures to keep ethylene down while they're transporting it.”

The study is published in the March edition of the journal ACS Central Science

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