The journey from a food factory to the supermarket shelf can take some time, so how do you keep products fresh? The secret is in the packaging – specifically the atmosphere within that packaging. Products go off because bacteria start to grow. Starve the bacteria of oxygen and you can slow down their growth to give a longer shelf life by keeping the product fresh and tasty.
For foods such as meat, sandwiches, bakery products, salad and fruit, the technique used is called Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP). This method of packaging uses a controlled environment with a high level of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) which suppress the bacteria growth and keeps food fresh, preserving taste and visual appearance. A specific level of CO2 is required for optimal shelf life, and this level varies for different products.
In factories, bags are sealed with the appropriate level of CO2 and sample bags must be checked to ensure that this is being done correctly. The problem is that typical CO2 sensors can take several minutes to reach a stable reading, by which time many bags will have passed along the production line. If something has gone wrong with the CO2 level, time is of the essence! The faster issues can be discovered means fewer bags will have to be scrapped or reworked.
One of the leading companies in controlled atmosphere equipment, Storage Control Systems (SCS), approached us to help design a faster gas analyser for MAP applications. They also wanted it to be portable with a long battery life.
The sensor that SCS had previously used in its instruments was slow to take a reading and had very high-power consumption. This made it unsuitable for use in a battery powered portable device.
To achieve the required CO2 sampling rates in their MAP analyser, SCS used one of Gas Sensing Solutions’ high-speed, SprintIR®-W CO2 sensors. The SprintIR®-W sensor takes 20 measurements per second from only a 3ml sample. This low volume was important as the bags might not have much atmosphere in them to be sampled, which is done by inserting a hollow needle into the bag and pumping some of the atmosphere into the analyser.
The SprintIR®-W sensor also met the low power requirements for the SCS analyser. With a power consumption of only 35mW, it’s ideal for use in a battery-powered portable device. This is because GSS uses its proprietary LEDs as the light source for NDIR absorption so that the sensor only needs a fraction of the power of typical infrared CO2 sensors, which have such large power demands that they must be plugged into mains power supplies.
Kevin Johnson, Production Manager at SCS, said, “The innovative technology of the GSS sensor has enabled us to create a solution that no other CO2 sensor could. This analyser measures levels of CO2 from 0 to 20% with great accuracy, ensuring that the use by date is achieved. We can now offer rapid response, handheld CO2 analysers for Modified Atmosphere Packaging that are easy to use and save customers money through improved quality control.”
If you have a need for a low power CO2 sensor that takes a fraction of a second for a reading, then check out our range that goes from low CO2 concentration right up to 100%. We also have evaluation kits so that you can rapidly try out our sensors in your application. And, if you have a more custom requirement, our team of specialists will be more than happy to discuss creating a custom solution for you. Gas Sensing Solutions have over a decade of experience gained by being the pioneers of solid state, LED CO2 sensors – making us the smart choice in CO2 sensors.