Materials and technologies – January 2024

31 January 2024

Biopolymer innovations
In a recent study, Chung-Ang University researchers explore tara gum, a natural and biodegradable substitute for synthetic plastics. Tara gum's modification methods are detailed, showcasing its potential in food and drug industries, particularly in pH-sensitive packaging and drug delivery systems. The study (5.97 MB) is published in Carbohydrate Polymers.
Scientists from North Carolina State University have developed biopolymer composite films with enhanced strength, derived from chitosan in crab shells and agarose in seaweed. The films are also biodegradable, have antibacterial properties, repel water and are transparent. Reinforcing agarose with chitosan particles creates films about four times stronger than agarose alone, with potential applications in packaging for food and consumer goods. The findings (5.25 MB) are presented in Cell Reports Physical Science.
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is contributing to the ULTRA-DREAM project, in which modified bio-based polymers with improved biodegradation capabilities are developed. By incorporating bio-derived monomers into polymers, the project aims to increase their sensitivity to UV-light, enabling biodegradation. In the project, agricultural side streams and residues are converted into high-value functional products for applications like packaging and agricultural films.

Reversible glue
Newcastle University researchers have developed a reversible glue that can, for example, be used for the labels of bottles so that they can be efficiently detached, making them easier to recycle. The glue is a water-based emulsion that bonds together and can be separated by water that is either acidic or alkaline. The study (10.90 MB) is published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Recycling to create new packs
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Joint BioEnergy Institute, in collaboration with X, have developed a one-pot process to break down mixtures of fossil-based and bio-based plastics using naturally derived salt solutions and microbes. The resulting biodegradable polymer can be used to create valuable products like new plastic packs and offers a solution for bio-based plastics causing contamination issues in recycling streams. The study (4.20 MB) is published in One Earth.
Beijing Forestry University scientists have developed an alternative to plastic-based foam cushioning for packaging using upcycled cardboard waste. The process involves breaking down cardboard scraps, mixing them with gelatin or polyvinyl acetate glue, and freeze-drying the mixture to form cushioning foams. These cardboard-based foams demonstrate strong thermal insulation and energy absorption. The press release and the research article (4.20 MB) are published by ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

NVC Chair Packaging Design and Management - research
On 20 December 2023, Marije Linders held a presentation entitled ‘Combining the strength of reusable and one-way systems into a secondary packaging design’ as part of her master assignment at University of Twente. Chairman of the assessment committee was prof. Roland ten Klooster who holds the NVC Chair Packaging Design and Management.

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