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The potential importance of nanotechnology as one of the most promising emerging scientific technologies in the market is beyond doubt.
At present, nanotechnology has been widely applied in fields such as medicine, materials, information and communication technology, as well as environmental protection and energy development.
For example, antibacterial clothing and anti fouling fibers in the textile industry, scratch resistant paint in the automotive industry, self-cleaning windows, cultural and sports rooftops, etc. These products have long been put into the market and have begun commercial applications.
The application of nanotechnology in agriculture and food industry is relatively limited. It was not until September 2003 that the application of nanotechnology in agriculture and the food industry was first proposed by the US Department of Agriculture, and it was predicted that nanotechnology would change the traditional ways of food production, processing, packaging, transportation, and consumption, thereby changing the entire food industry.
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The Application of Nanotechnology in Food Packaging and Food Safety
Application of Nanotechnology in Food Packaging
Food packaging and quality monitoring are a major focus of nanotechnology research and development in the food industry. The first substantial application of nanotechnology in the food industry began with the application of nanomaterials in food packaging.
Developing intelligent packaging to improve product shelf life is a goal that many companies strive to achieve. Nanotechnology can significantly improve the barrier performance, mechanical properties, and heat resistance of materials.
At the same time, it also exhibits strong antimicrobial and antibacterial properties on the surface of the material, and can detect changes in microbial and biochemical indicators in food.
Packaging incorporating nanomaterials has a certain level of intelligence. This intelligent packaging system will automatically repair any possible voids or cracks in the packaging based on changes in environmental conditions (such as temperature and humidity), and can promptly alert consumers in the event of food contamination.
Bayer of Germany has developed a transparent plastic film containing silicate nanoparticles. The addition of silicate nanoparticles not only makes the material lighter, stronger, and better heat-resistant, but also can block oxygen, carbon dioxide, water vapor and other gas components, thus effectively preventing food corruption.
The beer bottle made of nanocomposite materials developed by Amcol in the United States can provide a shelf life of 6 months, solving the problem of previous resin bottles that were prone to beer spoilage and loss of aroma components. At present, the company is committed to developing resin bottles that can extend the shelf life of beer beyond 18 months.
Kodak’s antibacterial packaging materials developed using nanotechnology have been commercialized, and the company is also developing other active packaging that can absorb oxygen inside the packaging and prevent food spoilage.
Researchers in the Netherlands have developed a biological switch using nanotechnology to manipulate the controlled release of preservatives inside packaging. This intelligent packaging can extend the shelf life of food by controlling the release of preservatives before the quality of the food begins to deteriorate.
The Application of Nanotechnology in Food Safety
Nanotechnology has also made significant progress in food safety and quality testing.
Previously, testing for food microbiological contamination typically took several days to a week, and detection instruments were often too cumbersome or bulky to achieve real-time online detection.
Researchers in the United States are developing a nano biosensor that can quickly and accurately detect pathogenic bacteria in food, and infer that this “super sensor” will play a crucial role in terrorist attacks against food supply.
Researchers from the European Union have developed a portable nanodetector for detecting chemical contamination, pathogen contamination, and toxins in food. Testing personnel do not need to send samples to the laboratory, and through this nano detector, real-time and rapid food safety and quality analysis can be carried out in farms, slaughterhouses, packaging workshops, food processing or transportation processes.
Researchers from Ctaft are collaborating with Rutgers University to develop an intelligent packaging system that detects pathogenic bacteria inside packaging by implanting nanosensors inside the packaging. The detection limit of this sensor, known as the “electronic tongue,” can reach a concentration of one trillion parts of a substance; When food is contaminated or begins to deteriorate, consumers can also be reminded by triggering changes in packaging color.
AgroMicron Company has developed the nano fluorescent particle spray detection technology, which provides a convenient and fast method for the detection of food quality. The nano fluorescent particles in the spray contain a luminescent protein, which can bind to the surface of Salmonella, Escherichia coli and other bacteria. Once proteins bind with bacteria, they emit a type of light, and the more severe food pollution, the greater the intensity of the light.
Application of Nanotechnology in Packaging Machinery
Nanomaterials Applied in Packaging Machinery
A) Mesoporous solids and mesoporous complexes
Mesoporous solids and mesoporous complexes have been attracting attention in the field of nanomaterials science in recent years.
Due to their high porosity (pore size 2-50nm) and high specific surface area, these materials have good application prospects in adsorption, filtration, and catalysis.
This provides a broad development space for membrane filtration and sterilization equipment such as pure water and soft drinks.
B) Nanometer magnetic refrigeration working medium
The development trend of magnetic refrigeration is from low temperature to high temperature, forming magnetic nanoclusters.
When the temperature is greater than 15K, its magnetic entropy rises and is higher than GGG (Gd3Ga5012), becoming the best magnetic refrigeration working medium in the temperature range of 15~30K.
The magnetic refrigerator with Cd as the working medium of magnetic refrigeration has been developed in the United States by using the magnetic entropy change refrigeration mode of the spin system.
Compared with the usual compressed gas refrigeration method, it has the advantages of high efficiency, low power consumption, low noise, small size, and no pollution. This has opened up new avenues for food freezing and refrigeration equipment.
Nano ceramics have good wear resistance, high strength, and strong toughness, and can be used for manufacturing sealing rings, bearings, etc. in cutting tools, packaging, and food machinery.
It can also be used for surface coating of key components of conveying machinery and fluidized bed drying. A company in Tokyo, Japan has successfully developed self-cleaning glass and ceramic tiles.
There is a thin layer of nano iron oxide on its surface. Under the irradiation of light, any substances adhered to the surface, including oil stains and bacteria, are further oxidized into gases or easily wiped off substances due to the catalytic effect of nano iron oxide.
Iron dioxide can be used to make packaging containers, equipment, machinery boxes, and production workshops.
Application of Nanotechnology in Other Instruments and Equipment
- Micro injection molding machine
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University has developed the world’s most accurate micro injection molding machine ( Micro Nano). It is reported that the micro injection molding machine is currently the only injection molding machine in the world that can use vacuum injection molding, with an injection molding speed of 1m/s and a locking force of 19.6kN.
A typical injection molding machine is made by aggregating horizontally and diagonally, but this micro injection molding machine aggregates vertically from top to bottom, which can greatly improve accuracy.
This micro injection molding machine casing can produce parts as small as half a dice, suitable for producing high-precision parts. In addition, it can also be applied to the lens of mobile phones, gears of watches, etc.
- Quantum dot laser
Scientists generally believe that quantum dot array lasers are not far from entering the market. The most promising preparation method is to design nanostructures through self-organization, forming a regular array of quantum dot lasers.
It does not require lithography or etching to obtain, and can replace expensive epitaxial growth techniques, greatly reducing the cost of lasers, It can be expected that it will develop into the leading technology for manufacturing the next generation of lasers.
- Nano humidity sensor
There is a great demand for humidity sensors in fields such as light textile, chemical engineering, weather forecasting, military material warehouses, food processing, preservation, seed storage, semiconductor device packaging, logistics, cables, papermaking, etc.
Humidity sensors can convert changes in humidity into electrical signals, making it easy to automate humidity indication, recording, and control. The working principle of a humidity sensor is based on the variation of ceramic resistance made of semiconductor nanomaterials with humidity.
Nanosolids have obvious humidity sensitive properties. Nanosolids have huge surfaces and interfaces, making them highly sensitive to external environmental humidity. Environmental humidity rapidly causes changes in surface or interface ion valence states and electron transport.
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