Materials and technologies - January 2019

12 February 2019

PLA, PCL and TPS play an important role in the bioplastic industry, however the drawbacks of each material limit its application in packaging. For her thesis (4.59 MB) at the Rochester Institute of Technology Rui Wang aimed to overcome the shortcomings by blending these materials.
A new biodegradable, edible film made with plant starch and antimicrobial compounds may control the growth of foodborne pathogens on seafood, according to researchers at Penn State.
Within the Sino-UK project, researchers at the University of Nottingham have developed 100% biodegradable and edible food packaging made from plant carbohydrates and proteins. TheCircularLab has created a plastic from plant waste (such as potatoes or carrots) that can be recycled, composted and can biodegrade in a marine environment. The Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is collaborating on a project to develop next generation packaging made from biodegradable materials that continues to prolong the shelf-life of foodstuffs, such as meats and salads.
With its ChemCycling project, BASF has made products with chemically recycled plastics. Pilot products, including mozzarella packaging, are being developed with various customers.

Producing (bio)plastics
A new Tel Aviv University study describes a process to make bioplastic polymers derived from microorganisms that feed on seaweed. It is biodegradable, produces zero toxic waste and recycles into organic waste. An article (1.22 MB) is published in Bioresource Technology.
Chemists at Utrecht University have managed to utilise cobalt as a catalyst for the production of basic chemicals from natural gas. In doing so, they have reduced the carbon dioxide emissions in a vital step of the chemical conversion process from 50% to almost zero. An article (2.08 MB) about the research is published in Nature Communications.
AIMPLAS is carrying out the ENZPLAST project. One of the objectives is implementing synthetic routes to obtain plastics by using enzymes instead of metal catalysts.

Food packaging
A new report (1.15 MB) published by ILSI, gives an overview of the adhesives that can be used in food packaging. It also includes an overview of the relevant food contact legislation.
Fraunhofer researchers have developed a mobile pocket-size food scanner that will allow consumers and supermarket operators to test whether food items have gone bad. The device uses infrared measurements to determine the ripeness and shelf life of produce.
Edible super-hydrophobic coatings can avoid the waste of liquid foods, such as honey and milk, adhered to the inside of containers. However, their poor thermal stabilities restrict their applications. Researchers at Dalian Polytechnic University developed a thermo-resistant edible super-hydrophobic coating using beeswax and coffee. An article (2.48 MB) about the research is published in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science.
In an overview article (1.55 MB) published in Foods, researchers at Albstadt-Sigmaringen University look at intelligent packaging in the food sector. The 3 main types of technologies discussed are data carriers, indicators, and sensors.

Paper supercapacitors for electricity storage
According to an article in ScienceDaily, researchers from the Islamic Azad University have discovered a way of making paper supercapacitors for electricity storage. One of the potential applications is smart packaging. An article (2.67 MB) is published in Heliyon.

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