Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is used for extending the shelf life of salads, vegetables, and fruits with a certain level of CO2 to preserve the food fresher for a longer time. Based on the product, the optimal level varies broadly. On the production line, sample packs are taken at regular intervals and the CO2 levels are examined by inserting a hollow needle into the pack and taking out a sample of the gases for analysis.
Image Credit: CO2Meter
Drawbacks of Traditional CO2 Sensors
However, traditional CO2 sensors take several minutes to stabilize on a reading — during this time, many bags can progress along a high-speed line. The longer the read time, the more bags are created with possibly incorrect CO2 level, thereby wasting money and product. Additionally, packages that are dispatched with the incorrect CO2 levels can be spoilt before the use-by date, leading to claims against the manufacturer by the supermarkets.
Storage Control Systems (SCS) aimed to produce a portable gas analyzer that would offer an exact CO2 within a few seconds, and only require a small sample volume. The sensor that they had been using in their products consumed very high power, which restricts the operational life for a battery-powered portable device and was not rapid enough in offering a reading for this application.
SprintIR® Infrared CO2 Sensor
The company employed a SprintIR® infrared CO2 sensor from Gas Sensing Solutions to obtain the performance specifications of the innovative kind of analyzer that they required to produce for MAP application. The SprintIR® sensor has the ability to offer 20 readings per second from only a 3 ml sample due to its patented design. This suggests that the analyzer has to sample just 30 ml of gases for the sensor to be able to get a clear reading of the gas composition. This amount is higher than that needed by the actual sensor because of the volume of tubing used to obtain the sample gases that have to be purged.
The very low power requirement of 3.5 mW is another key advantage of using the GSS CO2 sensor. For the NDIR absorption, SprintIR® uses a specifically developed LED as a light source. It requires only a fraction of the power of opponent infrared CO2 sensors; therefore, it can be easily battery powered.
Our customers told us that there was a market need for a new class of gas analyzer for MAP that could provide a reading within seconds, so that they can save money on the production line by taking swift corrective action when CO2 levels are outside the requirements. The innovative technology of the GSS sensor has enabled us to create a solution for this need that no other CO2 sensor could. The result is our new SCS354 Dual Gas Analyzer and we have sold 60 already.
The level of CO2 required for optimal shelf life varies according to the type of product being packaged. This analyzer measures levels of CO2 from 0 to 20% with great accuracy, ensuring that the use by date is achieved. Customers are so impressed with it that they are asking us to make a version that covers from 0 to 50%. GSS is helping us with this new design, and we have already received pre-production orders for this model. Having a GSS sensor at the heart of our new designs has enabled us to create the next generation of products to address a whole new market. We can now offer rapid response, handheld CO2 analyzers for Modified Atmosphere Packaging that are easy use and save customers money through improved quality control.
Kevin Johnson, Production Manager at SCS
Gas Sensing Solutions (GSS)
GSS is a global leader in CO2 sensor design, manufacture, and customization. The disruptive technology of GSS uses proprietary, mid-Infrared LED sensors to enable high-level records for quickest response times, lowest power consumption, and prolonged lifespan of the product.
Storage Control Systems (SCS)
SCS produces and supplies controlled atmosphere equipment and gas analyzers for the fresh produce industry.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by CO2Meter.
For more information on this source, please visit CO2Meter.