Nanotechnology changing the face of Chilean horticulture
Around the world nanotechnology is taking off across a broad spectrum of industries and is changing the way we bring food from the farm to table. For horticultural products, the practice of manipulating material at an atomic level can replace chemical usage in cleaning. Agronomist Alberto Popper tells www.freshfruitportal.com about what makes nanotechnology tick and how it is implemented.
Popper has partnered up with C-TEC Ltd, which is the first Chilean company dedicated to developing nanotechnology products and solutions, formed by Fabián and Marcos Orellana in 2007. The pair had previously worked for American and Japanese companies involved in the platform, while their creation C-TEC is also engaged in consultancy based on good manufacturing practices for nanotechnology.
The joint partnership between C-TEC and Bello Sur offers the product TI-CLEAN, which provides an unseen nanocoating made up of active polymers that cover the surfaces of any product that needs cleaning, but doesn't change its physical properties.
The use of these nanopolymers on the applied surface, or substrate, makes it easier to clean by having better control of microorganisms. This allows for the reduction or elimination of toxic chemicals or pollutants in the cleaning process, making sure that the grime doesn't stick.
Popper tells www.freshfruitportal.com that the function works following the Lotus Effect, named after what occurs naturally with the lotus flower, whereby water is not able to remain on leaves and when sliding down it drags dust particles and dirt with it.
Popper says the technology provides several benefits to agribusiness when applied to sanitization processes for faciliites and the protection of equipment.
Unlike traditional cleaning methods, where chemicals are applied that can be toxic or contaminating, nanotechnology usually has no or few residual effects in the control of microorganisms, bringing self-cleaning to the substrates and permanent biological control.
This allows for significant savings in time, energy, labor and water in the washing and cleaning processes of agriculture, facilitating water flow and preventing the formation of salt and carcareous crust. The process also prevents corrosion and the accumulation of dirt.
He says the industry currently washes surfaces by disinfecting with chemicals to remove microogranisms including chlorine and ammonium compounds. This is applied with liquids and then removed, whereas nanotechnology solutions are an ongoing form of biological control.
Popper points out that the applied coating is not toxic with a good food safety grade.
He says the technology has already been implemented in several fruit packaging and processing plants, as well as facilities for various kinds of food production such as meat, where microbiological control requirements are paramount.
The cleaning product can be used in all sorts of areas, from food handling and processing to health facilities.
Popper say he is developing a line of products and services for institutional and domestic use, which are on the verge of going to the market.