New environmentally-friendly food freshness indicator uses graphene ink made with bio-based solvent


CATEGORY: general BRAND: Circa Group

A new graphene-based sensor to monitor fresh food as it travels from farm to consumer has been developed by researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia.

The new technology uses Circa’s Cyrene solvent in a graphene ink formulation to produce the low-cost sensors, which can be printed onto food packaging to detect and display the freshness of the content.


Researchers from the University of Adelaide have printed sensors using a specially-formulated graphene ink made from ethyl cellulose (EC) and Circa’s bio-based solvent Cyrene as a sensing material. These sensors are used to monitor food spoilage by detecting volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in a commercial box of strawberries, successfully demonstrating a new use for printable devices in food monitoring and tracking applications.


The study concluded that “The graphene ink formulated by combining EC and Cyrene provides a facile route to achieve sustainable, environmentally friendly, and low-cost sensing modules.”


Professor Prof Dusan Losic, University of Adelaide, Director of the ARC Graphene Research Hub, commented, “Our research teams are very pleased to use Cyrene to replace common toxic solvents for the exfoliation of graphene and formulation of conductive inks. The results are a more sustainable and safer approach to our work with increased yield and much better performance.”

In other studies, Cyrene has produced high quality graphene ink that can directly be applied to materials like textile and paper and used in many applications including transistors, sensors, antennas, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and wearable electronics.


Tony Duncan, CEO of Circa Group said, “Cyrene, a non-toxic and sustainable solvent made by Circa from waste biomass, is continuing to prove a highly effective replacement for petro-based and high carbon footprint solvents that are traditionally used in these situations. Cyrene has proven its versatility and qualities across numerous applications and industries already, and we are excited to see that this also is the case for freshness indicators. The University’s choice of sustainable raw materials to develop new technologies, which reduce waste in the food supply chain is another important step forward in the development of more efficient and sustainable food production and logistics.”


Established in 2006, Circa Group converts waste, non-food biomass into advanced bio-based chemicals with its proprietary Furacell process. Its developing product portfolio includes flavours, biopolymers, and bio-solvents including Cyrene, an alternative to traditional polar aprotic solvents, which is produced in one step from platform biomolecule Levoglucosenone. By creating novel and replacement chemicals from renewable feedstocks, Circa is both extracting value from non-food, waste biomass, and addressing growing market demands for bio-based alternatives that are driving a more sustainable economy. In March 2021, Circa Group successfully listed on the Euronext Growth Market in Oslo, stock symbol CIRCA.


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