Materials and technologies – June 2021

28 June 2021

The nova-Institute has published an updated poster (1.72 MB) entitled “Biodegradable Polymers in Various Environments According to Established Standards and Certification Schemes.” The nova-Institute has also announced that the BioSinn project has come to an end. The experts were able to identify 25 applications for which biodegradability is a good or even the best end-of-life option. The result is a brochure (in German, 8.66 MB) with 25 fact sheets and extensive background information on biodegradation.

Producing (bio)plastics
Northwestern Engineering researchers have demonstrated a new approach to chemical catalysis that results in high propylene yields using less energy. The findings, published in Science (abstract), could support more energy-efficient production processes for many plastics.
Two years ago, researchers announced the invention of poly(diketoenamine) or PDK, a new plastic that has all the convenient properties of traditional plastics and can be recycled indefinitely with no loss in quality. Now, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team has released a study (559 kB) in Science Advances showing that PDK-based plastic could quickly become commercially competitive with conventional plastics.
Researchers at St Petersburg University have synthesised polymers from biomass that can easily be recycled. The key component is terpenols, i.e. compounds from natural alcohols. An article (abstract) about the research is published in Green Chemistry.

Monitoring the freshness of products
Researchers at the Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology and Engineering have designed an artificial colour-changing material that mimics chameleon skin. Using the material, they developed a sensor that can detect seafood freshness by changing colour in response to amine vapours released as fish spoils. An article (4.38 MB) about the research is published in Cell Reports Physical Science.
As part of the FreshID project, University of Florida researchers are using AI to develop a device that can scan produce for freshness and optimise how and when produce is shipped.

Food packaging
If it is up to University of Twente research, we will no longer have a ‘silver’ layer in food packaging like crisps bags. A relatively easy method to create coatings that can be recycled in water is described in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces (3.23 MB).
Nofima researchers investigated different types of materials for packaging fresh chicken fillet. They found that, at the present, there are no good alternatives to plastic that provide similar protection and shelf life. They are now investigating whether they can reduce environmental impact by using either thinner plastic or recyclable plastic, or preferably plastic that is both.
As part of the BioActiveMaterials project, Fraunhofer researchers have developed a bioactive coating for paper packaging. The coating extends the shelf life of food. After use, the packaging can be placed in the waste paper recycling bin for disposal.
In the new research project SinProPack, Aarhus University researchers are developing packaging for take-away foods based on upcycled grass fibres.

Flat pasta that forms into shapes when cooked
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are developing flat pasta that forms into familiar shapes when cooked. Flat-packed pasta cuts back on packaging and saves space in storage and transportation. An article (794 kB) about the research is published in Science Advances.

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