Sorter Detects and Removes Damaged Popcorn Kernels

December 16, 2009 By Sharon Durham
Sorter Detects and Removes Damaged Popcorn Kernels
A device that can detect and remove damaged popcorn kernels has been developed from a machine that is usually used to sort wheat. Photo courtesy of USDA-GIPSA.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A device developed by an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientist to sort wheat has been successfully used to detect and remove popcorn kernels that have been damaged by fungi.

ARS engineer Tom Pearson in Manhattan, Kan., developed the low-cost, high-speed device to inspect and separate a variety of grains based on color variations or slight defects. This technology was previously applied to sorting white and red grains.

The system achieved 74 percent accuracy when removing with fungal damage called blue-eye, and was 91 percent accurate at recognizing undamaged popcorn, according to Pearson, at the ARS Center for Grain and Animal Health Research in Manhattan. The sorter, which uses a specially-designed camera linked to a processor, can handle 88 pounds of popcorn per hour. Pearson is currently designing a sorting machine that has much higher accuracy and can handle greater volumes.

Blue-eye damage in corn is characterized by a small blue spot of the popcorn germ and is caused by certain species of Aspergillus and , which can grow under poor storage conditions and can affect up to 20 percent of the popcorn harvest. Blue-eye can be minimized if popcorn is dried before storage to reduce its internal moisture to no more than 14 percent.

The sorting device combines a color image sensor with what's called a field-programmable gate array, which is a programmable, electrical circuit that Pearson configured to execute image processing in real-time, without the need for an external computer.

The sorter also could be useful for detecting and removing other defective grains, such as insect-damaged grain, scab-damaged wheat, and bunted wheat. Parts for the system cost less than $2,000, suggesting that it may be economical to simultaneously operate several of the systems to keep up with processing plant rates.

This research was published in Computers and Electronics in Agriculture.

Explore further: Lung disease linked to flavoring chemical

Related Stories

Lung disease linked to flavoring chemical

May 7, 2007

Politicians and health workers in the United States are pushing for a bill to ban the use of a food flavoring chemical that has been linked to lung disease.

Popcorn at the movies still an unhealthy treat

November 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- A study carried out in 1994 by advocacy group CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) found that popcorn being sold by cinema chains in the US was high in saturated fat and calories, and a new survey ...

Recommended for you

A novel toxin for M. tuberculosis

August 4, 2015

Despite 132 years of study, no toxin had ever been found for the deadly pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which infects 9 million people a year and kills more than 1 million.

New biosensors for managing microbial 'workers'

August 4, 2015

Super productive factories of the future could employ fleets of genetically engineered bacterial cells, such as common E. coli, to produce valuable chemical commodities in an environmentally friendly way. By leveraging their ...

Fish that have their own fish finders

August 4, 2015

The more than 200 species in the family Mormyridae communicate with one another in a way completely alien to our species: by means of electric discharges generated by an organ in their tails.

Volcanic bacteria take minimalist approach to survival

August 4, 2015

New research by scientists at the University of Otago and GNS Science is helping to solve the puzzle of how bacteria are able to live in nutrient-starved environments. It is well-established that the majority of bacteria ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Rick69
not rated yet Dec 16, 2009
I have to rate this the top discovery of the decade! Its potential for the good of mankind is enormous.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.