Scientists in Massachusetts have developed computer chips that can tell whether the food is on the verge of going bad.
Previously, they also built computers that could foresee educational outcomes, could drive cars and could play chess.
C2Senese – a startup company in Massachusetts – created technologies called “disruptive gas sensing” that are able to sense the smell of spoiling food. The scientists used research conducted at Microelectronics Technology Inc. (MTI).
It is very important to detect spoilage especially in foods that are kept in a container. For instance when a fruit ripens it emits ethylene – a hydrocarbon gas – which stimulates the ripening of neighbouring fruits. That will eventually lead to the release of more ethylene, spoiling all the fruits.
Bad meat releases amines – organic compounds – and a similar process occurs where the amines will stimulate the release of more amines in nearby meat, making all the meat go bad.
Jan Schnorr, Chief Technology Officer at C2Sense and co-founder of the company said that spotting these chemicals at an early stage can save money and lower the amounts of waste.
According to Schnorr, C2Senese technology can identify ethylene, amines, and two other gases in trace amounts that are very small and cannot be smelled by humans. C2Senese uses a material that acts like a resistor in an electric circuit when it chemically reacts to ethylene. When the level of this gas rises, the current of the material lowers and it sets off an alarm.
In 2013, the National Science Foundation awarded Schnorr $145,500 to start his research the next year. Breakout Labs – an organisation founded by Peter Thiel (co-founder of PayPal) that offers grants for early-stage scientific research – also gave C2Sense $350,000.
The startup company hopes to mass-produce sensor chips that would be built into food packaging and that people could scan using their smartphones to determine the freshness of the food.
“Worldwide we have about 1.3-billion tonnes of food-waste every year and about 8 to 15-percent of that is due to spoilage. So it’s a huge problem,” Schnorr said.
The National Resources Defence Council conducted a study recently and found that in the United States about 40 percent of the food is thrown away, which would be like throwing away $165 billion annually.
Image Source: wired