Sweet innovation for citrus fruits

Oct 19, 2011
Sweet innovation for citrus fruits

Researchers in Spain have developed sophisticated machines to sort citrus fruit before they reach consumers. The prototypes can detect and separate rotten oranges, and can classify mandarin segments. Citrus fruit field pickers can also use these machines to make their jobs a lot easier. The prototypes are presented in the journal Food and Bioprocess Technology.

The conventional method of finding rotten oranges has been to pick and choose the fruit in a dark room, backed by that illuminates the essential oils in damaged rind through fluorescence. A disadvantage of this method is that the ultraviolet light increases the level of risk for human health; work shifts are therefore timed and performed under a strict schedule. Developed by experts at the Valencian Institute of Agrarian Research (IVIA) in Spain, this latest tool makes the process automatic. The researchers say these prototypes use to automatically inspect the fruits.

'Through collaboration with a company within this sector, we have developed software and hardware that can locate rotten and discard of those that are not fit for sale,' says Jose Blasco of the IVIA, a member of the team that patented the machine.

It should be noted that this machine is one of many agricultural applications created by these experts in the last two decades. These would not have been possible without recent innovations in , which is a series of techniques that enable a computer to be programmed in order for it to 'understand' the image it 'faces' and act accordingly.

Another prototype classifies citrus fruits on the production line. The factors that are taken into account during this classification process are quality, colouring and type of damage that the fruit's skin presents. Top-notch fruits slated for more demanding markets are thereby split from those of lower-grade quality (these are still 100% edible, however). The latter group contain small defects like scratches or bruises. Between 15 to 20 pieces of fruit per second are analysed through this system.

Once the fruits have been divided and separated on a vibrating platform, they are transported on a conveyor belt to the inspection area, capable of assessing 28 segments per second. The broken segments are separated from the whole segments. The machine can also identify which fruits contain pips, and can eliminate skin and other foreign bodies from the production line.

'As well as developing property statistical and computing techniques, the use the highest image resolution that modern equipment can achieve,' Dr Blasco says. 'They are capable of analysing objects in regions of the electromagnetic spectrum that the human eye cannot see, such as ultraviolet and infrared,' he adds.

'We have even started to inspect the internal quality of fruit using magnetic imaging resonance (MRI), computerised axial tomography (CAT) or X-rays, like those that are used in medicine. Although at the moment, these are costly techniques and we must continue in our investigations so as to facilitate their installation and make them more efficient in the fruit selection process.'

Explore further: Dubai plans to build 3-D printed office building

More information: Food and Bioprocess Technology: www.springer.com/food+science/journal/11947

Related Stories

Oranges and mandarins are inspected using artificial vision

Oct 11, 2011

Scientists at the Valencian Institute of Agrarian Research (IVIA, Spain) have created a machine that detects and separates rotten oranges, another that classifies mandarin segments according to their quality and another that ...

Laser Shows if Fruit's Beauty is Only Skin Deep

May 08, 2005

The produce industry is working with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to make sure that fruits and vegetables taste as good as they look. They're counting on "machine vision" tools that can predict ...

Recommended for you

Revealing faded frescos

4 hours ago

Many details of the wall and ceiling frescos in the cloister of Brandenburg Cathedral have faded: Plaster on which horses once "galloped" appears more or less bare. A hyperspectral camera sees images that remain hidden to ...

Device could detect driver drowsiness, make roads safer

5 hours ago

Drowsy driving injures and kills thousands of people in the United States each year. A device being developed by Vigo Technologies Inc., in collaboration with Wichita State University professor Jibo He and ...

New capability takes sensor fabrication to a new level

Jun 30, 2015

Operators must continually monitor conditions in power plants to assure they are operating safely and efficiently. Researchers on the Sensors and Controls Team at DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory ...

Smart phones spot tired drivers

Jun 30, 2015

An electronic accelerometer of the kind found in most smart phones that let the device determine its orientation and respond to movement, could also be used to save lives on our roads, according to research ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Oct 19, 2011
Hmmm. Not all citrus with damaged rind is defective, some of the tastiest fruit I ever had was ugly. True beauty is on the inside. I would think using molecular " sniffers " to determine peak ripeness by measuring chemical markers in off-gassing product for market or storage would be more effective.

I do know a couple other fruits that I'd suggest for an MRI though...
not rated yet Oct 19, 2011
They need to figure out a way to find rotten clementines. Regular oranges are usually pretty easy to reliably pick out as good or bad by eye - but I have gotten a whole bag of clementines where they all look good, but all taste rotten :(

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.