In recent years, photonics has played an important role in providing rapid, non-destructive methods and instantaneous measurements in agri-food sector. The development of terahertz (THz) spectroscopy represents a new solution.
There is a wide range of tools in the agri-food sector for the testing of both raw materials and production processes. THz spectroscopy is a new tool using radiation included between infrared and microwaves spectral regions. It has the advantage of being non-ionising and of low-energy, allowing non-destructive measurements and thus being safe to apply on any organic or biological product. This technology has numerous applications in Walloon industry, and in particular the agri-food sector. The FEDER project TERA4ALL, which aims to develop THz technology in Wallonia, is closely linked to the research program and activities of the CRA-W. With its expertise in rapid analysis methods, the latter will contribute to put forward THz spectroscopy as an innovative solution in the non-destructive testing of various agricultural and food products in connection with current problems such as food safety, the detection of foreign bodies during the food production process, the detection of micro-leaks in flexible plastic packaging, and the detection and identification of greenhouse gases.
The TERA4ALL project is coordinated by the research centre Multitel asbl (http://www.multitel.be/). The CRA-W, two university units (UCL and ULg) and the Liège Space Centre (CSL) are also participating, and it is also supported by six Walloon Food industries. The project’s ultimate purpose is to propose THz as a new tool for non-destructive testing in industrial production chains.
Example of THz measurements carried out in Multitel’s laboratories: THz image of cocoa powder containing non-visible contaminated seeds