In modern fruit supply chain a common method to trigger ripening is to keep fruits inside special chambers and initiate the ripening process through administration of ethylene. Ethylene is usually administered through cylinders with inadequate control of its final concentration in the chamber. The aim of this study is the development of intelligent polymeric supports able to accurately regulate ethylene concentration in the atmosphere where fruits are preserved. Two different technologies were proposed: a polymeric (PEGDA) film and a polymeric (PLA) bag filled with inclusion complex of ethylene/α-cyclodextrin. The complex was prepared by molecular encapsulation which allows the entrapment of ethylene into the cavity of α-cyclodextrin. After encapsulation, ethylene can be gradually released from the inclusion complex and its release rate can be regulated by temperature and humidity. Intelligent polymeric film was prepared by dispersing inclusion complex into a thin polymeric film produced by UV-curing. Intelligent polymeric bag was made by inserting inclusion complex into heat sealed bag. The kinetics of ethylene release was studied for both systems, showing that it can effectively possible to control the release of ethylene within confined volume. Furthermore, modelling and simulations of ethylene release in a food container were made, demonstrating that it is possible to modulate release rate and, thus, control ripening.
|ScienceOpen disciplines:||Polymer science, Materials technology, Materials characterization, General engineering, Polymer chemistry|