Here is the ‘smart’ label for checking the conservation of products

Green technology: Enea patents a wireless temperature gauge

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Italy is at the forefront when it comes to green innovation and sustainable materials. In particular, research is making progress in the field of new technologies for food preservation. Italian research is making significant progress.

Researchers from the ENEA Center in Portici (Naples) have patented a wireless temperature indicator to monitor the conservation status of perishable products in the agri-food, medical and pharmaceutical sector. The indicator, inserted in the label, does not require batteries or sensors and is able to signal with a simple “yes or not” exceeding a predetermined temperature threshold and to store the data to view it at a later time. This would allow to keep the product at the right temperature, but also to check for possible variations undergone by the product and, therefore, possible deterioration.

“The system we patented is characterized by a low production cost and, unlike other passive tag devices – that is, without a battery – can detect the thermal event even when it is not in the vicinity of a reader, storing the information relating to a peak of unwanted temperature the instant it occurs, “explains Riccardo Miscioscia, researcher at the Laboratory of Nanomaterials and Devices.

The indicator, a sort of hi-tech thermometer, works with high frequency RFID technology (Radio-Frequency Identification) and does not compromise the transfer of information between the product label and a conventional reader. This innovative system can be used in the management of the cold chain and in the handling of biological samples, in the field of perishable goods logistics and in all cases where it is necessary to detect the exceeding of a storage temperature.

“The challenge now is to integrate one or more sensors into RFID tags to ensure that the properties of the tracked object have not been altered voluntarily or involuntarily by external causes,” concludes Miscioscia.

Just a few weeks ago, ENEA Research Center in Brindisi broke the news of new functional bioplastics for food packaging, furnishings and internal coatings for means of transport. Innovative “intelligent” bio-films for packaging with strong antioxidant and antifungal properties capable of changing color in the event of food deterioration and prolonging its expiration; 100% biodegradable and compostable composite materials.