Manufacturing process designed to keep food fresh wins packaging award

Friday, 24 May, 2019

Manufacturing process designed to keep food fresh wins packaging award

A large-scale manufacturing process developed at Purdue University to improve food packaging and keep groceries fresher for longer has received an award for best poster during the PaperCon 2019 packaging conference held in Indianapolis in May.

The manufacturing process uses cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) that provide advanced barrier coatings for food packaging. It was developed by a team of Purdue University researchers, led by Jeffrey Youngblood, a professor of materials engineering in Purdue’s College of Engineering.

Nanocellulose-coated PET film.

CNCs are an alternative renewable raw material derived from abundant resources such as wood and plants. They have properties including nontoxicity, biodegradability, high specific strength, high thermal conductivity and optical transparency, all of which make them excellent components for advanced food packaging.

“This discovery has the potential to enable more sustainable high-performance food packaging to keep food fresher longer,” Youngblood said. “Winning an award such as this at PaperCon from experts in the packaging field is validation that our approach has merit.”

The Purdue manufacturing technique is scalable since it is a roll-to-roll manufacturing process using waterborne polymer systems. CNCs are highly crystalline and easily dispersed in water, so manufacturers can control the structure to eliminate free volume and end up with only the properties that are needed for the barrier material.

The Purdue technology also offers food packaging manufacturers good optical, thermal and mechanical properties to ensure that food remains as fresh as possible when it is delivered to the grocery store for consumers.

The Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization helped secure a patent for the technology. It is available for licensing.

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