A Master of Science thesis in Engineering Systems Management by Raed Okba AlZuabi entitled, “Implementation of a Smart Storage System for Fruit Quality Preservation”, submitted in February 2021. Thesis advisor is Dr. Noha Mohamed Hassan Hussein and thesis co-advisor is Dr. Zied Bahroun. Soft copy is available (Thesis, Completion Certificate, Approval Signatures, and AUS Archives Consent Form).
Food packaging has evolved throughout the decades from being a simple container to hold food, to being an active agent in the role of preserving the product’s shelf life. However, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, almost 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted annually due to either overbuying, overproduction, or even spoilage if left untouched. In addition, due to the increasing population growth and the continuing reduction of the world’s arable lands, the need for advanced packaging systems has never been more crucial. Therefore, this research implements a cost-effective and sustainable smart fruit storage system in which active and intelligent packaging techniques are combined in order to enhance the quality of the fruits. To this end, a literature review on the negative issues affecting the quality of fruits as well as the different types of smart packaging techniques is conducted. Based on the findings from the literature, a smart fruit packaging system was designed and manufactured using thin aluminum sheets due to its conductivity and cost-effectiveness. An experimental analysis is then executed using bananas and avocadoes inside and outside the packaging system while regulating the air composition and relative humidity within the compartment using Argon and Carbon gas, as well as Potassium Chloride powder. The data collected was used to study and analyze the differences in air quality measurements using Minitab through response surface regression analysis and factorial plots, as well as the color quality of the fruits (RGB Values) through correlation. The results of both analyses indicate a reduction in fruit respiration and an increase in shelf life between the fruits inside and outside the compartment. The fruits placed inside the packaging system had their shelf life extended by at least 2 times the normal duration respectively. Finally, an economic analysis is conducted to estimate the public price of the packaging system if sold to families of 4 – 5 members, while also estimating the benefits in terms of savings over the course of 4 years. The economic analysis generated a positive Internal Rate of Return (IRR) equal to roughly 22%.