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Personal Food Irradiator

Irradiate food with X-rays or an electron gun
  (+5, -1)
(+5, -1)
  [vote for,
against]

Currently, a noticeable portion of the food we eat is irradiated. This can be done by exposing the food to radioactive substance, by shooting the food with an electron gun, or by shooting the food with x-rays. One of the latter techniques would be used for food. Of course, this idea is already baked, but nobody has produced such a device for home use.

The safety of irradiating differing foods and packaging materials is not fully tested, but it is already approved for various foods and packaging.

Radiating (some) food is considered a safe way to remove various parasites and to improve shelf-life. So, consumers can use their irradiator to radiate various foods safely and easily. Once personal irradiators became commonplace, foods could have special labels indicating that it is safe to irradiate them (they are already labeled to indicate if they have already been irradiated), and how often and how much radiation should be used to prolong shelf life. One presumes the personal irradiator would include advice for use with common foods like bread.

Note: I'm not sure if irradiating food again would increase shelf life to the same extent as the first exposure, but one assumes that new organisms would show up in the food between the commercial irradiation and the consumer irradiation.

aguydude, Mar 04 2007

A convenient X-ray irradiator http://www.hopewell...s.com/xrayIrrad.htm
Under the sink, or next to the fridge? [MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2007]

...and a compact model http://www.pxinc.com/xrad.html
[MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2007]

..... and for the larger home with a big family http://www.winkelse...volta/i_biblis1.jpg
[xenzag, Mar 05 2007]

Pressure-pulse sterilization may be more accessible http://www.pressure...ces.com/patents.htm
I've seen other references to pressure-pulse sterilisation, but this is the only one Google found. [MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2007]

Health Effects of Microwave Radiation http://www.vaccinetruth.org/microwave.htm
[nuclear hobo, Mar 07 2007]

[link]






       I think this is possibly a good idea, but I don't think it would work in practice easily. I think half the problem would be consumers assuming that it could render off food edible. This is partly true (in that harmful bacteria and other bugs are killed), and partly not true (in that any bacterial toxins will remain; and the nutritive value of the food may hav been compromised by the bacterial action).   

       On balance, giving people the ability to irradiate food is probably not significantly different from allowing them to freeze food.   

       The remaining problems, then, are of implementation and perception. Implementation: the smallest irradiator I've used is the size of a small fridge, but weighs several hundred pounds due to sheilding (it's an X-ray generator, not a source; I've used a caesium137 source but it filled half a room, mostly lead). I don't know if you could make a viable consumer version. Perception: lots of people will wave their arms when it comes to irradiation, and it'll take a lot to sell this to the public.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 04 2007
  

       [-] Aside from concerns about nutritional value, vitamin and enzyme depletion, creation of unique radiolytic products such as benzene and formaldehyde, long term health effects etc., making radioactive isotopes of cobalt or cesium (used to produce beta or x-rays) widely available is simply a terrible idea.
nuclear hobo, Mar 05 2007
  

       But other than that, it's cool. Right?
methinksnot, Mar 05 2007
  

       [hobo], that is true if you are proposing a nuclear-decay radiation device. //This can be done by exposing the food to radioactive substance, by shooting the food with an electron gun, or by shooting the food with x-rays. One of the latter techniques would be used for food// I read that as the author proposing either an electron or x-ray device. Both of which can be produced without the use of radioactive Cobalt or cesium.   

       I don't see why you couldn't make a small home-use irradiator using an x-ray emmittor or electron source. Yes they are power intensive. But so is freezing or refigerating food only to throw it out. I'd like to see a device that irradiates the food, vacuum-packs it then snap-freezes it. Or some combination of the above. As for vitamin and enzyme -loss and the like, can't be much worse than some of the other travesties inflicted on "consumer" food products.   

       A nice, very-long shelf life bun from me.
Custardguts, Mar 05 2007
  

       //making radioactive isotopes of cobalt or cesium (used to produce beta or x- rays) widely available is simply a terrible idea.// As ['stardguts] pointed out, reading the original idea would make it clear that you don't need a radioisotope source.   

       //I don't see why you couldn't make a small home-use irradiator using an x- ray emmittor or electron source.// The problem is not the power consumption (which is not that great - on the order of a kilowatt, I think, for the little baby unit we have at work), but the sheilding and consequent weight.   

       As I mentioned, the smallest unit I've seen weighs several hundred pounds, largely because of sheilding. And I doubt it would pack enough punch to irradiate food in a short time. See link for an example. And be aware that a regular X-ray machine (as used in hospitals etc) is operating at a much much lower dose rate.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2007
  

       Not a bad idea. You could buy fresh food, place it in an airtight container, irradiate it and it should keep for a long time. Easier than canning
vmaldia, Mar 05 2007
  

       I think we will have a whole new class of murders on our hands once we give everyone an invisible, untraceable method to off each other.
GutPunchLullabies, Mar 05 2007
  

       Don't we already have a seemingly dangerous food-radiating device in most homes? I refer to the microwave oven.   

       That's not to say that a microwave could be used for irradiating food. But the devices that it is derived from, radar sets, are scary and unsafe--I used to work on shipboard radars--but we now treat our food each day to a dose of what could burn people.   

       I say that if we have microwave ovens, we could well have home irradiating units. Go to it. [+]
baconbrain, Mar 05 2007
  

       The only difference is that microwaves are blocked by a thin foil or mesh. X-rays merely laugh at such trivia as they rush towards your gonads. My [+] was contingent upon suitable sheilding at an all-up weight of <500lb
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2007
  

       Give me a microwave oven with a small leak any day. I don't have a pacemaker; I'll be fine.   

       Put an x-ray/gamma ray/beta particle source strong enough to kill microorganisms in my house, and you had better be damned sure it is shielded. And since I'm getting awfully sick of my friend "fresh produce bill", the idea of artifically thinning the shielding on that home irradiator he's always perched in front of seems pretty attractive. I just have to be sure not to change the appearance of the outermost millimeter of the shielding, and he'll NEVER KNOW.
GutPunchLullabies, Mar 05 2007
  

       This is a fine idea. It could also be used for water sterilization which would be wonderful in locations with unreliable tap water. In fact, an inline system could be located outside of the house to irradiate all incoming water. One of these could be scaled up to serve a locality.   

       As regards preformed bacterial toxins, they can make you pretty sick but rarely do they kill. It is infections that kill. These sterilizers would be wonderful in places where meat was suspect.   

       Finally, despite the radiation scariness, I think you could sell these. A quick zap of the spinach or peanut butter will make it safe, and will not affect the flavor. The time is right!
bungston, Mar 05 2007
  

       //Finally, despite the radiation scariness, I think you could sell these. A quick zap...// Again, it's a question of sheilding and power. Especially if you're after a "quick zap", you are going to need one hefty X-ray generator - a lot more than 1kW. I presume that this would entail even more shielding than the "small" units. Ye cannae change the laws o'physics.   

       You might be better off with a pressure-pulse sterilizer. Allegedly, whacking food with a very high- pressure pulse (ie, a brief intense compression) will kill bacteria but leave macromolecules generally undamaged. (see link; scroll down). It's mechanically more challenging, but doesn't raise shielding issues.
MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 05 2007
  

       Full agreement re correlation of speediness and dangerousness. Bacteria can take a lot more than we can.   

       However, preformed bacterial toxins (hello, botulism!) can be extremely deadly. Infections can be cured.
GutPunchLullabies, Mar 06 2007
  

       mmm, yeah. Botulism. That is a bad one.
bungston, Mar 06 2007
  

       "Hello, Botulism!"   

       That would make a great title for a musical.
zen_tom, Mar 06 2007
  

       [bigsleep], you should be. See link.
nuclear hobo, Mar 07 2007
  

       Heating is heating. Microwaves are just as good or bad as boiling on the stovetop.
GutPunchLullabies, Mar 07 2007
  
      
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