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Ryan in front of the grain storage bins
Ryan in front of our grain storage bins

Analox and Camgrain launch project to detect mould in cereal grain

Analox is working in partnership with Camgrain, Innovate UK and Cranfield University to develop a cereal grain monitoring system which detects early signs of mould growth.

Camgrain is a farmer owned central storage co-operative, with four Advanced Processing Centres (APC), which are used to collect and store grain from farmers before delivering it to consumers.

Currently, most grain storage facilities monitor the temperature of stored grain, however research suggests that CO2 monitoring could provide an earlier indication of the initiation of moulding.

If the storage conditions are too wet, mould growth can occur, and the levels of CO2 inside the grain silo will rise due to increased respiration.

Analox have extensive experience in producing gas measurement devices and product ranges, including CO2 sensors, and can tailor sensor design and configuration to specific requirements.

In September 2015 we met with Cranfield University and Camgrain to discuss the possibility of developing a system which incorporates CO2 monitoring, that  will alert the operator of the stored grain, when the condition of it is reaching a point where mould growth and mycotoxin production is stimulated.

Sensors in a grain store diagram

Sensors in a grain store diagram

In addition to this, CO2 is a good indicator of any activity by stored grain pests as they are attracted to wet, mouldy conditions, and their respiration will increase the level of CO2 in the stored area. It will also help monitor the level of hygiene in the store, as pests can contaminate the grain and reduce the quality of it.

As a result, a three year project has been launched with the aim of creating an early warning decision support system for post-harvest cereal grain management.

The system will provide real-time and onsite monitoring of grain via a network of CO2, temperature and relative humidity sensors in the grain bulk which are linked to nodes that transmit data to a control system.

Risk alerts will be automatically made as an on screen alarm and audible alarm should this be required.

Gas detection in a grain storage bin

Gas detection in a grain storage bin

The project is currently in its first year and research is being undertaken by Mark Elkin, Research Engineer; Ryan Bellas, Year in Industry Student; and Paul Branton, Director of Products.

Ryan said: “We have been conducting experiments on grain with different moisture contents to identify when it goes mouldy and see if there are any patterns. Cranfield University are also carrying out experiments on grain mass, by creating very small pockets of infected grain in a silo and measuring its production of CO2 at different moisture levels.

Market research and feedback is being obtained from potential customers of the system to understand their requirements, and this could influence the form and functionality of the finished product.

The research and results gained from the first year will be used by our engineering team to help them design and build a prototype in the second year. This will then be further developed during the third year in order to create a marketable system that accurately detects early signs of mould growth.”

Update: Thank you to Innovate UK for mentioning our project on their blog

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Author: Araminta Hartley, Content Writer

Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.

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