Researchers from the Tianjin University of Science and Technology in China successfully developed a method extending the shelf life of bananas after they are picked. For the first time a special coating will be able to keep bananas fresh for almost two weeks.
Bananas continue to “breathe” through their skin even after they are picked (just like other fruits and vegetables). However unlike most other fruits, bananas tend to “breathe” faster and thus also tend to rot more quickly. Bacteria on the other surface of the banana also increase the speed of spoilage. -
To counter these two issues Dr Xihong Li from Tianjin University in China developed a special coating based on chitosan aerogel – a compound found in crustacean shells. This special aerogel slows down the “berating” of the banana and also kills the Bacteria on the surface of the fruit. -
According to Dr Xihong Li: “spraying green bananas with a chitosan aerogel, can keep bananas fresh for up to 12 days. Such a coating could be used at home by consumers, in supermarkets or during shipment of bananas”. -
Around the world millions of bananas are thrown away each day because of spoilage. The aerogel could potentially save millions for both consumers supermarkets and farmers. It’s not clear at this point how soon a commercial version of the aerogel might be ready for use but many of business and private users will surely be happy to have a few more days of “good bananas”.
The following time-lapse video shows in great detail the process of bananas rotting using more than 3000 images taken each 5 minutes (and squeezed into a 1:17 minute video) – using Dr Xihong Li chitosan aerogel might slow down this process -
In 2008 TFOT covered a special “shelf life booster” by the Israeli company Hefestus based on a unique packaging system, which can significantly prolongs the “shelf life” of various products for up to several months in some cases.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.
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