Insulating wine and beer against ultraviolet rays

Monday, 16 January, 2006

Australian beer and wine could soon come in glass bottles that insulate them from the damaging effects of ultraviolet and visible light.

A team of research scientists from CSIRO has developed a bottle coating that screens out the ultraviolet and visible light that prematurely ages beer, wine, vegetable oils and pharmaceuticals.

"The days of consumers putting up with poor shelf life and the premature loss of flavour in premium beers and wines packed in green or clear bottles are over," says lead scientist Richard Harris.

Currently, the only glass that offers protection from "light-strike' is amber-coloured bottles.

"However, amber glass suffers a bit of an image problem. It is just inappropriate for a premium quality product and doesn't look as fresh and vibrant as other colours," Harris says.

"Contrary to popular belief, the green bottles on liquor-shop shelves are just as ineffective as clear bottles when it comes to screening out damaging light," says Harris.

"Our light screen yields the same light protection to a bottle's contents as the traditional amber-coloured bottle while allowing consumers to see the contents in an attractive green or blue bottle," he says.

CSIRO's new protective coating screens out the light wavelengths from near ultraviolet all the way to green.

The sunscreen pigment is made up of trillions of minuscule particles (approximately 30 millionths of a millimetre in diameter).

"Contrary to popular belief, the green bottles on liquor-shop shelves are just as ineffective as clear bottles when it comes to screening out damaging light."

These particles absorb the "nasty' light wavelengths while allowing the benign yellow to red wavelengths to pass through the coated glass.

The technology also allows the sunscreen to be modified with additional coloured pigments. This could potentially lead to a dazzling new array of coloured "protected' bottles.

The bottle sunscreen technology is currently being commercially manufactured by Bottle Magic Australia Pty Ltd.

The company has built a pilot plant in Adelaide to scale up the UV-visible light-screen coating application technology. The protective layer is sprayed on to the bottles on the production line after they emerge from the annealing oven.

The company plans to launch the sunscreen coating in the high-volume markets of the northern hemisphere " Europe or the US will be first " before introducing it to the Australian market.

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