Materials and technologies – June 2022

01 July 2022

Photosynthesis-like process to make ethylene
Northwestern University chemists have taken inspiration from plants to make ethylene, a widely used chemical that is a key ingredient in plastics. They used light and water to convert acetylene into ethylene. This photosynthesis-like process is much less expensive and less energy intensive than the current conversion that is typically used. An article (abstract) about the research is published in Nature Chemistry.

Degradability of biodegradable plastics
PLA is often labelled as biodegradable, however it has limited degradability in natural environments. Scientists at the University of Bath have now found a way to make PLA break down using only UV light. The team found that they can tweak the degradability of the plastic by incorporating different amounts of sugar molecules into the polymer. An article (1.63 MB) about the research is published in Chemical Communications.
An INRAE paper (3.39 MB) published in Polymer Testing reviews the current state on the recyclability of PLA, PHAs, PBS and PBAT with an emphasis on mechanical recycling.
In an article (2.61 MB) published in Membranes, Qilu University of Technology researchers give an overview of the degradation mechanisms and performance characteristics of biodegradable packaging film materials. Photodegradation, hydrodegradation, thermo-oxidative degradation and biodegradation are some of the discussed mechanisms.

QR code on edible silk tag to identify fake products
The days of fake whiskey could be numbered, thanks to a team of engineers led by Purdue University. The team developed an QR code on an edible silk tag that manufacturers can place in bottles of whiskey. Consumers can use a smartphone app to confirm the whiskey’s authenticity. This new anticounterfeiting technology, published (7.31 MB) in ACS Central Science, could also be a step toward addressing fake medications.

Extending the shelf life of food
A Rutgers scientist has developed a biodegradable, plant-based coating that can be sprayed on foods, guarding against pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms and transportation damage. The material can be spun from a heating device that resembles a hair dryer and “shrink-wrapped” over foods of various shapes and sizes. The material is sturdy enough to protect bruising and contains antimicrobial agents The coating can be rinsed off with water and degrades in soil within three days.
In an article (1.6 MB) published in Applied Food Research, ICAR-CIAE gives a review of trends in edible packaging films and the prospective future of the films for food.
In a review (199 kB) published in Research, Society and Development, UFV researchers provide a comprehensive summary on the research papers that address active packaging using starch and antimicrobial nanoparticles.
A BNCP review (1.27 MB) published in Antibiotics summarises recent updates on antimicrobial nanomaterials for food packaging.
In an article (1.07 MB) published in the Pharma Innovation Journal, Lovely Professional University researchers give an overview of the effect of MAP on the shelf-life of fruits. Researchers at the Agricultural University of Athens have developed biodegradable films using sunflower protein isolates and bacterial nanocellulose. The films could be applied in fresh fruit packaging. An article (1.16 MB) about the research is published in Scientific Reports.

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