Oxygen Sensitive Ink for Packaging

Background

Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) is a modern and much-used method to protect oxygen sensitive items, most commonly foodstuffs and sterilised medical equipment. It is imperative within this form of packaging that the level of oxygen is known, to indicate product tampering and assure quality. Current oxygen sensors tend to be unreliable, due to their reversibility with oxygen, and are also typically costly with short shelf-lives.

Technology

New research at the University of Strathclyde has discovered a novel sensor for measuring oxygen levels within MAP. Critically, the sensor changes colour on the detection of oxygen. Untrained personnel and end users can therefore monitor the oxygen level within the package to maintain product quality. The sensor is 'activated' using UV light and remains unaffected by light out-with the UV wavelength (i.e. it is unaffected by natural light). It is further unaffected by carbon dioxide, a common MAP gas.

Advantages

  • cheap to manufacture
  • irreversible and, therefore, more reliable and accurate
  • can be encapsulated within a number of materials, including plastic film or ink dye
  • longer shelf-life
  • insusceptibility to carbon dioxide
  • detectable to the human eye and so does not require trained personnel
  • does not require specialised storage or handling

Markets & applications

  • modified atmosphere packaging used by food industry to detect tampering and communicate product quality assurance in substances such as breads, confectionery, beverages, dairy products and fresh packaged foods
  • sterilised medical equipment
  • pharmaceuticals

Licensing & development

This technology is protected by a patent application filed by the University of Strathclyde as WO03/021252. Contact is welcomed from organisations interested in developing, licensing or exploiting this technology. Please contact: ri@strath.ac.uk quoting reference number 1367.