Skip to main content

RLTProFood - Remote Lighting Technology for processing and production of food

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - RLTProFood (RLTProFood - Remote Lighting Technology for processing and production of food)

Reporting period: 2015-10-01 to 2016-03-31

The innovative RLTProoFood solution proposed by IODA is a lighting system LED-based to be used in the fresh and possible organic food working environment mainly by food industries in a business-to-business (B2B) market. The system considers a twofold exploitation of the LED source light. A LED-based visible light system allows in a food context for a smart/better food lighting and higher visibility quality. Its application in food processing line and tools (e.g. cooking ovens or cold storage) benefits also of an energy-saver solution brought by LED technologies. The LED-based UV light system is applicable as a sanitizing/germicidal method, alternative to other solution (e.g. chemical), to surfaces, packaging, tools and in some case the food itself (e.g. for extending the shelf-life of fresh products) that are in contact with the food when it is produced (e.g. in productions lines), processed (e.g. water treatment) or packaged. The main features of RLTProoFood, that for its modular design and used components aimed to be a green and sustainable product, are: the remote lighting technology allowing the provision of the light externally respect the food work environment and thus ideal for “hostile” contexts (i.e. subjected to particular conditions for temperature); the use of LED as light source providing benefits in terms of energy saving and efficiency and sustainability; the customization of the light source to the single food application context in order to provide different benefits (i.e. higher visibility or sanitizing/germicidal solution) according the customers’ needs thanks to the modularity of its design. The overall objectives of the project were the economic viability of the RLTProoFood as a whole system in the European market of fresh and possible organic food, and the technical viability of the UV LED-based RLTProFood in order to provide the proof-of-concept of this product and to design its pilot experimentation in a food industrial environment.
The work done during the Phase 1 has contributed to support the project idea, verifying the economic viability of the whole modular RLTProFood solution, and the technical viability of the UV-LED based solution. The study has clearly identify the two main key offerings of the product that however are based on the same structure: the visible LED RLTProfood and the UV-LED RLTProFood. The visible LED RLTProFood is a lighting system for food environment that could substitute current lamps-based lighting installation with benefits as regards energy saving and reduced cost of maintenance. The LED UV RLTProFood is designed to be a bactericidal/sanitizing LED-based method to be used also as a substitute of the current germicidal UV lamps.
The results of the studies have led to different conclusions regarding the two types of product resulting from the same innovative design of the lighting system. The visible LED RLTProFood has proven its economic viability, but it is necessary to proceed with a sustainable production and a capillary put on the market through networks of agents that could directly sell the product, especially in food hazardous contexts such as cooking oven or fridge where the segmented market has demonstrated the more possibility of growth. The results of the studies on the UV LED RLTProfood have demonstrated the possibility of a European market for this kind of product, since the need of such a method by different customers working especially with fresh fruits and vegetables or fresh pasta. However, both technical and legislation aspects as regards regulation of food irradiation, have demonstrated the necessity that this product needs to be highly customized to the specific food application context and the object of the sanitizing/germicidal effect.
That is, since several are the foodborne pathogens and spoilage microbes that affect each type of food, and so different are the requirements on their breakdown, each applications need a setup of the product in order to define the number of LEDs with a define wavelength to be used and the specific exposure time to obtain the necessary light power to achieve the desired effect. For this aim, we have developed a mathematical model that could allow the correct settings for the product. So, even if UV irradiation could be used for surfaces, packages and tools that are in contact with the food, for the water that is used for food processing and for food itself (e.g. to extend shelf-life), IODA has decided to develop the UV-LED RLTProFood prototype for the treatment of water used in food industry context (e.g. washing the vegetables before the packaging as a fresh food or before to use it for making the fresh pasta). Now, the business idea is to proceed with the development of such a prototype that has shown a great interest in the food fresh market and of a pilot experimentation in an industrial context. The final aim is to provide within the next two years of a product ready for the EU market.
The progress beyond the state of the art has been in the definition of the specific wavelength of the LED UV in the area of deep UV LED that could give the more benefit both as irradiation as customization in order to be included as a module in the RLTProFood system. This aspect will results in a compact system, sustainable, easy to install and safe that could be applied in the more hazardous. The expected potential impact toward the company, and the other companies that will be part of the consortium for the UV LED-based RLTProFood development, will be both in terms of internal growing and in terms of application of a technology, that has an environmental and socio-economic impact.
LED technology is an energy-saver, and the substitutions of current lamps could have a great impact both in the visible and UV light. As regards UV lamps, they contain mercury that is banned. The transition to a mercury-free solution will help to avoid this type of material. Moreover, even if UV light is anyway dangerous especially for human eyes and the work with this light should be carefully consider by using specific equipment, the UV LED RLTProFood will be more safer that current UV lamps, since it will be not subjected to breakage also then transported. Finally, consider the specific application of water treatment, the use of such a solution will help to control the waste of water, that is a precious resource, in the food environment.
Extraction from the project flyer