Over the past months the trace gas research group at Radboud University has built a mobile gas sensor system that intends to sample directly from the storage rooms. Their challenge is to get it operational 24/7 under industrial conditions.
The laser-based sensor is placed in a shielded, temperature-controlled unit and will be completely autonomous. Once operational, the storage rooms will be regularly sampled, by sucking gas samples from the rooms via tubes to the detector. There, the gas samples will be checked for trace gases, representing spoilage, fermentation and ripening of the produce.
Every 10 minutes another room will be sampled. The results will be sent via the WIFI system to the operator.
Recently, the group have succeeded in getting a lab-based system operational, detecting gases and identifying related gases. But to be able to detect reductions in fruit quality at an early stage, improvements still have to be made in specificity and sensitivity. Meanwhile, the sensor system is incorporated into a complete mobile detector (see picture). If all goes well, the first trials with this prototype will take place by the end of 2018 at the Flanders Centre of Postharvest Technology in Leuven.