Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is used to prolong the shelf life of fruits, vegetables and salads with a specific level of CO2 to keep the produce fresher for longer. The optimal level varies widely according to the product.
On the production line, sample packs are taken at regular intervals and the CO2 levels checked by inserting a hollow needle into the pack and drawing out a sample of the gases for analysis.
However, standard CO2 sensors take several minutes to stabilize on a reading -- during which time many bags can progress along a high-speed line. The longer the read time, the more bags are made with potentially the wrong CO2 level, which wastes product and money.
In addition, packages that ship with the wrong CO2 levels can spoil before the use by date, resulting in claims against the producer by the supermarkets. Storage Control Systems (SCS) wanted to create a portable gas analyzer that would provide an accurate CO2 reading in seconds, and only need a small sample volume. The sensor that they had been using in their products has a very high power consumption, which limits the operational life for a battery powered portable device, and was not fast enough in providing a reading for this application.