Flavor Saver

1 min read

The same ionizing action that shatters bacterial DNA also creates free radicals, which can change the color, smell, and taste of irradiated foods.

When you grill a piece of chicken or irradiate a beef patty, water molecules are broken and you end up with free electrons, hydrogen and oxygen atoms�and a combination of a single oxygen and a single hydrogen atom, OH, also called a free hydroxyl radical. Hydroxyl radicals attack proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, oxidizing them. Too much fat oxidation, and meat smells and tastes rancid.

According to Tom Allen, vice president of systems engineering at SureBeam Corp. (San Diego, Calif.), oxidation on the surface of meats is the primary problem consumers might see with irradiation�white turkey meat, for instance, might not be quite white or might smell odd.

Changing process parameters can help, including altering the thickness of the turkey slice, attenuating the electron beam to lower the dose, or changing how long a product bathes in X-rays.

Another way to make irradiated meat taste better might be to inject it with rosemary extract, a powerful antioxidant, before the meat is irradiated. Donald R. Berdahl, vice president and laboratory director of Kalsec Inc., Kalamazoo, Mich., a maker of herbal extracts, claims that rosemary extract contains radical scavengers that combine with, and stabilize, free radicals before they can form volatile organic compounds that impact smell and therefore taste.

Please pass the extract.

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This New Breed of Generator Can Run on Almost Any Fuel

Mainspring’s linear generator may speed the transition to a zero-carbon electrical grid

12 min read
This New Breed of Generator Can Run on Almost Any Fuel

Technicians work on the frame of a linear generator core.


It’s January 2030 and your electric heat pump is warming the house while your electric car charges in the garage, all powered by solar panels on your roof and by wind and solar generators at your local utility. It doesn’t matter that it’s been raining for two weeks because your utility is tapping into ammonia produced with last summer’s sunshine. It’s consuming that ammonia in a linear generator.

The linear generator can quickly switch between different types of green (and not-so-green, if need be) fuel, including biogas, ammonia, and hydrogen. It has the potential to make the decarbonized power system available, reliable, and resilient against the vagaries of weather and of fuel supplies. And it’s not a fantasy; it’s been developed, tested, and deployed commercially.

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