Materials and technologies – June 2024

05 July 2024

University studies on packaging materials
Two Master’s theses from LUT University focus on packaging, particularly on cellulose and dry-moulded fibre products. The first thesis (795 kB) explores the perspectives of companies within the packaging value chain regarding the current market landscape and their attitudes towards cellulose-based materials. The second thesis (1.32 MB) examines the design and productivity factors as well as the environmental impact of dry-moulded fibre products, with a specific focus on disposable coffee cup lids.
For his PhD (33.41 MB) at TU Eindhoven, Kusters developed efficient mathematical models to optimise smart polymers, aiding their development for various applications. His approach, part of the Soft Advanced Materials consortium, offers ease of shape change for plastic packaging materials, making them suitable for complex functions.

Novel plastics from biomass
A Clemson University project explores biodegradable food packaging from biopolymers like kudzu cellulose. The research aims to optimise the materials made from agricultural residues for use in food packaging. The project is supported by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture research.
Scientists of the University of Cordoba and the University of Girona have developed a biodegradable food packaging material using cellulose fibres from avocado tree pruning’s. The new compound has strong mechanical properties. Other properties, such as antimicrobial capacity, are now being tested. The research (2.72 MB) is published in Advanced Sustainable Systems.
DTU researchers have developed a method to convert biowaste into gamma-valerolactone (GVL), a versatile compound that can be used for plastic production. The process successfully converts various biowastes to GVL but faces commercialisation challenges due to high costs and lack of an established GVL market. The study (1.57 MB) is published in EES Catalysis.

Commercially manufacturing packaging using CO2
Washington University in St. Louis researchers have developed a scalable CO2 electrolysis process producing acetate and ethylene, vital for food and plastic production. Using the CO2 conversion process at large scale could set up a circular manufacturing process for packaging where the captured CO2 feeds the microbes. The technology can be seen on a commercial scale demonstration in five to ten years. The study (abstract) is published in Nature Chemical Engineering.

Recycled films and biodegradable coatings
Researchers from the University of Minho investigate incorporating recycled plastic from multi-material film waste into extruded films for food packaging. Experiments show reprocessing and blending with virgin LDPE is feasible, maintaining mechanical and thermal properties. However, recycled EVOH films exhibit poorer optical properties compared to virgin LDPE or recycled LLDPE films. The study (2.42 MB) is published in Polymer Engineering & Science.
A joint research team from KAIST and Yonsei University has developed a marine biodegradable, high-performance paper coating using PVA. This innovative material enhances biodegradability, barrier properties, and strength. The study (abstract) is published in Food Chemistry.

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