Materials and technologies – February 2022

28 February 2022

Replacing toxic pigments by nature’s colours
NTNU researchers have found a way to replace toxic pigments by nature’s colours. Birds, fish, insects, some plants and berries, soap bubbles, the rainbow and so on have colours that are based on a partial reflection of light waves. Light that is reflected in nanothin structures in the material is what we see as colours. The researchers used nanothin layers from clay to imitate this way of making colours. An article (450 kB) about the research is published in Science Advances.

Developments in food packaging
A new starch-based bioplastic developed at RMIT University repels liquids and dirt – just like a lotus leaf – then breaks down rapidly once in soil. According to the lead author of the study published in Science of the Total Environment (abstract), the new bioplastic is ideal for fresh food and takeaway packaging.
Brightlands Materials Center is leading a new consortium to develop fully recyclable sterilisable stand-up pouches for soups and sauces and other wet food products.
In a review (3.9 MB) published in Polymers, SHOU researchers look at the latest advances in gelatin-based biodegradable packaging and food applications. In an article (12.46 MB) published in the same journal, UiTM researchers give a review of antimicrobial packaging from biodegradable polymer composites.
In an article (3.59 MB) published in Polysaccharides, UFRJ researchers give a review of natural polymers used in edible food packaging. In an article (1.87 MB) published in the same journal, UAEM researchers look at the development of starch-based materials for food packaging.
In an article (2.35 MB) published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Research, Integral University researchers give an overview of the application of nanotechnology in food packaging.

Developments in bioplastics
Researchers from the University of Birmingham and Duke University have created plastics based on sugars that retain the qualities of common plastics, but are also degradable and mechanically recyclable. An article (3.69 MB) about the research is published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Invest-NL and WUR have developed a roadmap (2.44 MB) to accelerate the market introduction of PHAs. PHAs are plastics that are both bio-based and biodegradable.
A study by Oregon State University scientists published (abstract) in Food and Bioproducts Processing outlines a key advance in turning apple waste into packaging material that could serve as an alternative to plastic.
The EC has announced the launch of EU4Algae, a European algae stakeholder platform. The aim of the platform is to accelerate the development of the algae industry and promote algae for nutrition and other uses among consumers and businesses.
In an article (9.36 MB) published in Applied Sciences, Teagasc researchers study the effect of cold plasma treatment on the packaging properties of biobased films.

Developments in other materials
Researchers at the Beckman Institute have developed a chemical process for foamed polymers that mimics the vascular systems found in trees, enabling directional fluid transport and adding structure throughout the material. An article (abstract) about the research is published in Advanced Materials.
TU Graz research (304 kB) has found that folding boxes can be recycled at least 25 times.

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