Materials and technologies – October 2023
Researchers at the University of Technology Eindhoven have developed a predictive model for the efficient fractionation of lignin, a natural polymer derived from sources like woody biomass and wheat straw. This model helps isolate specific lignin fractions with desired chemical properties, which can be valuable for making biobased packaging materials and other chemicals or fuels. While the model has potential applications in the packaging industry, the use of lignin in packaging will depend on further developments and validation in the future. The study (969 kB) is published in Green Chemistry.
A study from South Dakota State University demonstrates that spent coffee grounds show promise as a sustainable alternative to plastic packaging. They turn lignocellulosic fibres, extracted from coffee grounds, into biodegradable films with high tensile strength. The resulting films are able to biodegrade in 45 days and have additionally to the high tensile strength, other unique advantageous properties. The research (5.16 MB) is published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules.
Performance of PLA
A study by Michigan State University researchers investigates how temperature and crystallinity affect the hydrolysis kinetics of PLA using a three-phase model. This research offers insights into PLA degradation behaviour, valuable for predicting its performance in various packaging applications and at its end of life. The study (6.32 MB) is published in Polymer Degradation and Stability.
National Research and Innovation Agency scientists investigated the use of citronella oil and its fractions (rhodinol, citronellal, and limonene) incorporated into PLA packaging to inhibit bacterial growth on fresh and processed meat. The study found that films containing 10% rhodinol and limonene effectively inhibited bacterial growth, with biodegradability observed in a 30-day test period. These findings suggest the potential for citronella-infused PLA films to enhance food safety and reduce microbial contamination in meat products. The study (1.15 MB) is published in the AIP Conference Proceedings.
Research on sustainable packaging
LUT University and VTT are collaborating with 34 industrial partners in the Films for Future (F3) project to develop cellulose-based alternatives to plastic films in packaging. These bio-based, bio-degradable films can simplify recycling, minimise waste, and align with EU directives for sustainable packaging. The project aims to create environmentally friendly packaging solutions for a circular economy while fostering new business opportunities for Finnish companies.
Researchers at the University of Queensland are developing seawater-degradable plastics to combat marine waste. Using advanced polymerisation techniques, they aim to create affordable and eco-friendly plastics that can replace traditional ones, reducing plastic pollution in oceans and benefiting ecosystems. The collaboration between the university and the Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry has received $125,000 funding to accelerate the work in the next two years.