Materials and technologies – August 2021

30 August 2021

Keeping food fresh
INRS researchers have developed a packaging film that can keep strawberries fresh for up to 12 days. The film is made of chitosan, a natural molecule found in shellfish shells, containing antifungal properties that curb mould growth. An article (abstract) about the research is published in Food Hydrocolloids. Lund University has published a master thesis (1.77 MB) entitled ‘The relation between food shelf-life and environmental impact of different plastic packaging alternatives.’ In an article (630 kB) published in Earth and Environmental Science, Bogor Agricultural University researchers give an overview of oxygen indicators for leak detection in packaging. Campden BRI reports on new plasma packaging sterilisation technology that dramatically reduces downtime. In an article (8.92 MB) published in Polymer Testing, Università degli Studi Roma Tre researchers study the suitability of bioplastic bottles for wine.

Producing plastics
University of Michigan research (abstract) published in Science, describes a new chemical catalyst that could enable the production of more feedstock for polypropylene. Meanwhile, researchers at Tufts University have created a catalyst with 100% selectivity in producing propylene. The research (abstract) is also published in Science. NREL reports that researchers in the BOTTLE Consortium are using enzymes for recycling PET. The process breaks PET down into its two building blocks. An article (5.08 MB) is published in Joule. Meanwhile a number of global consumer brands have unveiled food-grade PET bottles produced entirely from enzymatically recycled plastic based on Carbios’ technology.

Producing bioplastics
Researchers at the University of Göttingen have developed plant-based packaging made from “granulated” popcorn derived from the inedible by-products of Cornflakes production. ICP has developed corrugated cardboard made from tomato stems. In a review (274 kB) published in the International Journal of Food Science and Agriculture, University of Sri Jayewardenepura researchers explore possible applications of animal and plant protein sources from agricultural by-products in bio-based film production. In an article (2.07 MB) published in Nature Communications, Texas A&M researchers describe a “plug-in” preconditioning process to create bioplastics from the by-products of corn stubble, grasses and agricultural production.

More research on bioplastics
University of Cambridge researchers have created a plant-based polymer film by mimicking the properties of spider silk, one of the strongest materials in nature. An article (2.29 MB) about the research is published in Nature Communications. KTH researchers have developed a high-performance plastic foam from whey proteins that can withstand extreme heat better than many thermoplastics made from petroleum. An article (1.71 MB) about the research is published in Advanced Sustainable Systems. In a review (7.37 MB) published in Progress in Polymer Science, University of Guelph researchers study the oxygen/water vapour barrier of representative biodegradable polymers. As part of the HIPPSTAR project, WUR is developing a new generation of biobased polymers using the Isoidide molecule that can be used in for example BPA-free packaging. WUR researchers are also developing a water-resistant, biodegradable coating for cardboard, allowing it to be disposed of and recycled with paper.

Printing technology
On 1 July 2021, Kai Lankinen presented his thesis (16.49 MB) entitled ‘Evaluation of Expanded Gamut Printing in Flexography’ at Tampere University. Packaging World has published a supplement (42.25 MB) on digital printing for labels and packaging.

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