Queen’s spin-out makes nanoscience breakthrough to keep vegetables fresher

14 Sep 2016

Fresh organic vegetables and fruits in the garden. image via Monticello/Shutterstock

A Queen’s University spin-out company called MOF Technologies has claimed a world-first by creating nanotech metal materials that can be used to prevent vegetables from going off while in transport.

MOF Technologies has developed a novel technique for the synthesis of metal organic framework (MOF) technologies in an environmentally-friendly and highly scalable way.

MOFs are highly porous materials that can store, separate and capture specific gases. They could be revolutionary to the transport of food, drugs and natural gas.

Future Human

MOF Technologies’ CEO Dr Paschal McCloskey presented the nanoscience breakthrough at the 5th International Conference on Metal-Organic Frameworks & Open Framework Compounds (MOF 2016) in Long Beach, California, this week.

Big revolution in nanoscience starts with the small stuff

The Queen’s spin-out has identified a range of applications, including fruit and vegetable storage, as well as natural gas storage in vehicles.

When applied to other industries, such as drug delivery, the breakthrough could be transformative.

The metal organic framework provided by MOF Technologies is central to the effective control of naturally occurring, but unwanted, ethylene – often found when storing and transporting fruits and vegetables.

Teaming up with leading fruit and vegetable storage provider, Decco Worldwide Post-Harvest Holdings, MOF Technologies identified and delivered the ideal metal organic framework required for a novel food application known as TruPick postharvest freshness management.

“Given just how competitive this growing branch of science has become, it’s a remarkable feeling to be the first to successfully commercialise metal organic framework technology,” says Dr Paschal McCloskey, CEO of MOF Technologies.

“It’s testament to all the hard work everyone on the team at MOF Technologies and Queen’s University Belfast has put in up to this point. Particular mention must go to our CTO, Professor Stuart James, who spent a decade developing the technology which underpins everything this company has achieved thus far.”

Organic image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years