Company Uses Electric & Magnetic Fields to Store Food in Freezers Without Ice Crystals

Michael Wolf wrote . . . . . . . . .

If you’ve ever put meat or fish into a freezer, you’ve probably noticed it doesn’t look nearly as fresh once you thaw it out.

That’s because the process of freezing food alters and damages its structure at a cellular level. As the temperature drops, water molecules slow down, and ice crystal embryos form ice nucleation sites. From there, the ice spreads to freeze the entire piece of food. Water within the food expands by up to 9% when frozen, causing food cells to rupture. When frozen food thaws, nutrients and flavors leach out from the food, often in the form of drip loss (that red liquid dropping from a warmed piece of red meat).

But what if you could store and preserve food in a freezer at sub-zero temperatures and avoid the damage incurred by traditional freezing? That’s the idea behind a new startup called EverCase, a spinout from storied research and business incubator Xerox PARC.

The new company, announced on June 15th, is the result of almost a decade of research that started when Dr. Soojin Jun, a professor at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, got a three-year research grant from the USDA in 2013 to research the technology dubbed “Supercooling.”

Jun’s Supercooling technology utilizes pulsed electric and oscillating magnetic fields to cause water molecules within food stored at sub-zero temperature to vibrate, inhibiting the formation of ice crystals. The result is food that, when pulled out of a Supercool equipped freezer, has almost the exact look and texture of food that is fresh and not riddled with ice crystals.

Jun would eventually take his ideas to Xerox PARC where he would get help incubating them and preparing them for commercialization. The end result of that move is EverCase, a new spinout that plans to build systems with Supercooling that can be used in existing freezers.

Source: The Spoon

Watch video at You Tube (2:58 minutes) . . . . .



Electrolux Launches GRO, a Kitchen System Designed to Encourage More Sustainable Eating

Michael Wolf wrote . . . . . . . . .

Can a kitchen’s design help us eat more sustainable, plant-forward diets?

Swedish appliance manufacturer Electrolux thinks the answer is yes and, to that end, has launched an ambitious new kitchen system concept to help us get there.

Called GRO, the new system is comprised of a collection of interconnected modules that utilize sensors and AI to provide personalized eating and nutrition recommendations. According to the company, the system was designed around insights derived from behavioral science research and is intended to help encourage more sustainable eating behavior based on recommendations from the EAT-Lancet report for planetary health. The company will debut the new system at this week’s EuroCucina conference.

“How can a thoughtful kitchen slowly nudge you to more sustainable choices,” asks Tove Chevally, the head of Electrolux Innovation Hub, in an intro video to the GRO system. “To make the most of what you have, to buy smarter, and eat more diverse?”

Source: The Spoon

Watch video at You Tube (1:32 minutes) . . . . .

Training Virtually Can Reduce Psychosocial Stress and Anxiety

Previous research has described how virtual training produces acute cognitive and neural benefits. Building on those results, a new study suggests that a similar virtual training can also reduce psychosocial stress and anxiety.

Researchers from Tohoku University’s Smart-Aging Research Center (IDAC) published their findings in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health on May 23, 2022.

Physical exercise benefits our overall well-being. But for some – such as neurological patients, people suffering from cardiovascular disease, and hospitalized patients – physical exercise is not feasible, or even too dangerous. However, similar effects may be brought about using Immersive Virtual Reality (IVR).

Despite initially designed for entertainment, IVR has attracted interest from the academic community because of its potential use for clinical purposes, since it allows the user to experience a virtual world through a virtual body.

In the researchers’ previous study, they found that looking at a moving virtual body displayed in first-person perspective induces physiological changes. Heart rates increased/decreased coherently with the virtual movements, even though the young participants remained still. Consequently, acute cognitive and neural benefits occurred, just like after real physical activity.

In a followup study, the same benefits were also found on healthy elderly subjects after 20-minute sessions occurring twice a week for six weeks.

In the current study, the researchers explored the effect on stress, adding another level to the beneficial effects of virtual training. Young healthy subjects, while sitting still, experienced a virtual training displayed from the first-person perspective, creating the illusion of ownership over movements.

The avatar ran at 6.4 km/h for 30 minutes. Before and after the virtual training, the researchers induced and assessed the psychosocial stress response by measuring the salivary alpha-amylase – a crucial biomarker indicating the levels of neuroendocrine stress. Similarly, they distributed a subjective questionnaire for anxiety.

The results showed a decreased psychosocial stress response and lower levels of anxiety after the virtual training, comparable to what happens after real exercise.

“Psychosocial stress represents the stress experienced in frequent social situations such as social judgment, rejection, and when our performances get evaluated,” says Professor Dalila Burin, who developed the study. “While a moderate amount of exposure to stress might be beneficial, repeated and increased exposure can be detrimental to our health. This kind of virtual training represents a new frontier, especially in countries like Japan, where high performance demands and an aging population exist.”

Source: Tohoku University

Cultivated Scallops Made Using Low-Cost Aquaponics Technology

Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (seafood farming) and hydroponics (growing crops in nutrient solutions rather than soil). Essentially, Mermade Seafoods takes nutrient-rich spent growth medium — a byproduct of cultivated meat and seafood production — and places it in a bioreactor with microalgae. The resulting algae biomass can be used to feed more cells, a circular process with the potential to drastically reduce the cost of cell cultivation.

Mermade Seafoods is an Israeli company developing cultivated scallops. The company claims to be the first in the world to use aquaponics technology in cellular agriculture.

Mermade says it is focusing on scallops as their shape and texture is relatively easy to replicate. Additionally, conventional scallops are expensive, meaning the cultivated variety will not be significantly more costly.

“We’re making the same seafood that we all know and love, just without fishing,” CEO Daniel Einhorn said, speaking at OurCrowd’s online event ‘Investing in the Circular Economy: From Trash to Cash.’

Reducing the cost of growth media

Cell growth media is notoriously expensive, accounting for a huge proportion of the cost of cultivated meat. This is currently one of the key barriers to the commercial production of cultivated products. The growth medium most commonly used, fetal bovine serum, also comes with concerns about ethics and quality.

Consequently, various companies are working to develop alternatives. Collaborations are ongoing between Meatable and Royal DSM, and between Aleph Farms and WACKER. Others have successfully managed to do away with cell culture media entirely, such as Japan’s IntegriCulture.

“IntegriCulture is the first to implement cell culture by serum-free basal medium that cell-cultured meat producers around the world are working on. There is a wide range of potential industrial applications in cell cultivation such as cosmetics, leather, pharmaceuticals, and others,” the company said.

Source: Vegconomist

Tracking Sleep with a Self-powering Smart Pillow

The human body needs sleep as much as it needs food and water. Yet many people fail to get enough, causing both mind and body to suffer. People who struggle for shut-eye could benefit from monitoring their sleep, but they have limited options for doing so. In a new study in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, one team describes a potential solution: a self-powering smart pillow that tracks the position of the head.

Studies have linked chronic lack of sleep to physical ailments, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as mental health issues. Those interested in getting a better handle on what’s happening to them at night have two primary options. They can take a sleep test conducted in a medical facility, or they can use an app through a smartphone or smart watch — a much more convenient, but less accurate choice. Recognizing the need, many groups have begun developing new sleep monitoring systems using triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs). These self-powering systems have taken the form of eye masks, belts, patches and even bed sheets. Ding Li, Zhong Lin Wang and their colleagues wanted to adapt this approach to create a less restrictive, more comfortable version that focuses on the movement of the head during sleep.

To construct this new smart pillow, the researchers formulated a flexible, porous polymer triboelectric layer. Movement between the head and this layer changes the electric field around nearby electrodes, generating a current. They strung together several of these self-powering sensors to create a flexible and breathable TENG (FB-TENG) array that can be placed atop an ordinary pillow. This system could generate voltage that corresponded to the amount of applied pressure, and it could track the movement of a finger tracing out letters. The FB-TENG also could capture the pressure distribution of a fake human head as it shifted position. This smart pillow could have uses beyond tracking sleep, the researchers say. For example, the system could monitor patients with diseases that affect the movement of the head, such as the degenerative neck disorder cervical spondylosis. What’s more, the smart pillow could be adapted to offer an early warning system for those at risk of falling out of bed, they say.

Source: American Chemical Society