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The art of defrosting tuna

Saving resources in the tuna supply chain

Tuna variations

The processing of tuna is a sophisticated business – particularly the defrosting process.
In this project, the Institute for Microsensors, Actuators and Systems (IMSAS) of Bremen University is working with the Bremerhaven-based firm TFE #TheFishExperts on the development of a sensor which can detect whether the whole fish is defrosted, right to the centre.

The handling of tuna presents a challenge to fish processors: a lot of sensitivity and knowledge about the raw fish is needed. The defrosting of tuna is particularly difficult: the temperature and ventilation need to be precisely adjusted so that no waste arises and the quality of this special fish is preserved as well as possible. The Bremerhaven-based company TFE #TheFishExperts is now making use of the many years of expertise gained by the Institute for Microsensors, Actuators and Systems of Bremen University in the development of food monitoring sensors. The project entitled “Saving resources in the tuna supply chain” aims to develop a sensor which can tell precisely when a piece of tuna is fully defrosted.

ERDF Bremen 2014 - 2020
Degree of priority / area of funding
Priority Axis 1 – The Innovation Axis
Specific objective 2: Boosting the R&D and innovative capabilities of companies in Bremen
Total volume of money (in ?)
Proportion of funds
of which private: 57.560,00 €
of which national public funding: 127.576,33 €
of which ERDF funding: 185.136,32 €
15.08.2020 - 15.04.2022
City of Bremerhaven
BIS Bremerhavener Gesellschaft für Investitionsförderung und Stadtentwicklung mbH
Am Alten Hafen 118
27568 Bremerhaven

Tel.: +49 (471) 94646-610

The processing of tuna is a sophisticated business – particularly the defrosting process.

Tuna variations
© #TFE TheFishExperts: Tuna is a tasty and popular fish – but defrosting it is difficult, and researchers at Bremen University are now developing a sensor to monitor this process.

The sensor-controlled measurement system is to precisely monitor and control the process of defrosting tuna, a sensitive resource. The optimised defrosting process reduces wastage of tuna due to defrosting and helps save energy and fuel. This cuts carbon emissions.
The deep-frozen filets or loins need to be fully defrosted for processing, but the surface temperature must not exceed 4C. The art is to manage the temperature in such a way that the filets are fully defrosted without warming up too much on the outside.
The sensor-based defrosting system which is to be developed will adjust the refrigeration, temperature and ventilation during the defrosting process to ensure it precisely meets the needs of the actual phase transition from ice to water inside the fish.
A system of sensors is to be developed which is adapted to the thickness and the mechanical and electrical characteristics of the pieces of tuna. Various measurement processes (temperature changes, ultrasound, capacitive properties) will be assessed.
Subsequently, it will be possible to adapt the new system for use with other frozen products.
The project is financed with funding from the European Union and the State of Bremen – by the Senator for Climate Change Mitigation, Environment, Mobility, Urban Development and Housing Construction under the Applied Environmental Research funding programme.