Although cold plasma is not yet established in the food industry, it offers potential applications that could have significant benefits, as this video clip demonstrates.
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The continuous cold plasma prototype demonstrated here is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council's Impact acceleration scheme in collaboration with the University of Liverpool.
Samples are loaded onto a conveyor belt on one side of the machine.
The system was originally designed to continuously treat food contact materials such as conveyor belts but the electrode platform can be adjusted so that the food products are able to pass in close proximity to the plasma generating apparatus. A maximum height of 30 cm is achievable with this system.
Once the height is set up for the desired product the plasma is energised and the conveyor belt set in motion. Products are transported through the system and receive a gentle dose of plasma species.
Plasma is formed on the surface of the electrodes as shown by the purple glow and the reactive plasma species flow towards the sample, treating the surface.
The diffuse nature of the reactive species allows them to access hard to reach areas potentially limited by shadowing.
Once treated, samples then go on to be packed and stored.
Previous experiment showed that spoilage of strawberries treated in punnets was delayed by about three days. The images show the spoilage growth on day 14 on control and plasma–treated samples.