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Optical Ethylene Analyzer for Food Crop Quality Assurance

Award Information

Department of Agriculture
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2010 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Vista Photonics, Inc.
67 Condesa Rd. Santa Fe, NM 87508-8136
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Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 2
Fiscal Year: 2010
Title: Optical Ethylene Analyzer for Food Crop Quality Assurance
Agency: USDA
Contract: N/A
Award Amount: $400,000.00


Improved production yield is a constant objective of increasingly sophisticated agricultural practices. As Earth's population grows, higher yield is a critical mechanism for insuring adequate food supply. An effective way to increase yield is by reducing waste. Crops begin to ripen when encountering ethylene at low levels and sustain the ripening process by self-generation of ethylene. Because ethylene is a ripening agent, the increased production of this gas accelerates the maturity of the crop and causes it to rot and become inedible. If these increased levels can be detected, the harvesting of fruit and vegetable crops can be precisely timed to be most economically viable before crop viability is compromised. Further, detection of elevated ethylene can also eliminate compounding of post-harvest waste due to rot or senescence. Present monitors are inadequate due to sensitivity, selectivity, ruggedness or cost. The proposed high performance ethylene sensor will provide research plant physiologists a tool with which to correlate the causes and effects of ethylene release and the means to quantitatively measure resulting mitigation strategies. This project will develop a compact, rugged, low parts-per-billion (ppb) gaseous ethylene optical analyzer, ultimately suitable for widespread application in the agricultural industry. New monitors will be enabling components for controlled plant growth, early detection of stress, precise application of ripening inhibitors and other chemical agents, and successful long-term storage and delivery. This tightly monitored life cycle will provide modern agricultural industry the tools to continually increase production yields.

Principal Investigator:

Jeffrey S. Pilgrim

Business Contact:

Jeffrey S. Pilgrim
Small Business Information at Submission:

67 CONDESA RD Santa Fe, NM 87508

EIN/Tax ID: 200051259
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No