Inorganic SiOx coatings improve the barrier properties of bioplastics

The NanoEurope from September 11 – 13, 2007 will present the latest nanotechnology developments for the packaging industry

(PresseBox) ( St.Gallen, )
Nanotechnology offers the packaging industry fresh potential for innovation. Improved, controllable, and safer packaging solutions or better retracing capabilities are examples of practical applications allowed by nanopolymers and nanocomposites.

What significant applications are possible today, and what are the fields of the future? At the “Packaging” specialist conference that will be held at this year’s the NanoEurope Fair & Conference in St.Gallen from September 11 through 13, different aspects of materials and layers as well as their processing and applications will be discussed.

Europe is a large market for transparent barrier materials. In 2006, the packaging industry consumed over 1,225 million square meters of these materials. The total market is growing annually by about 7 percent, and that for inorganic films is increasing at an even faster rate. In the next few years, growth rates in this field are expected to swell to about 20 percent.

One of the reasons for this success is doubtlessly the highly developed barrier properties of these packaging materials. But inorganic barrier films offer even more benefits: They are absolutely waterclear and allow outstanding visibility and thus presentation of the product. Moreover, they ensure high product safety thanks to their transparency for metal detectors and – because they can be used in microwave ovens – they also offer high consumer convenience.

PLA films as an environmentally friendly alternative

PLA films (polylactic acid) are made from corn (maize) starch. In view of the rise in crude oil prices, the fact that such barrier film materials are produced from corn or some other renewable material is becoming increasingly important. Their price is not linked to that of crude, which further increases their competitiveness in terms of price.

But PLA films are also being more frequently applied for marketing reasons, since they are fully biodegraded into carbon dioxide and water. A German study has shown that 90 percent of all consumers would like to replace plastic packaging with bio-degradable alternatives.

Improved barrier properties of bioplastics

At the “Packaging” specialist conference at this year’s NanoEurope, Oliver Vetter, Business Manager at Alcan Packaging in Kreuzlingen, will show how inorganic SiOx coatings can improve the barrier properties of bioplastics.

The possibilities of packaging products in bioplastics used to be limited due to the poor barrier properties of packaging films. They were used as trays for fresh fruit or bags for vegetables, where the breathing capability of the film is an advantage.

On the other hand, the barrier was inadequate in applications involving products with higher shelf stability requirements. But today, inorganic SiOx coating technology allows an effective barrier to be applied to bio-based films. The barrier efficiency that can currently be achieved is high enough to enable the films to be used for MAP trays or MAP pouches.

Unique platform

The speakers at this year’s “Packaging” specialist conference at the NanoEurope will present and discuss innovative industrial products, possible strategies in the creation of new products, and the main direction of future research and development efforts. The event is addressed to entrepreneurs, management staff, and employees from development, production, and purchasing in the packaging industry and industries that upgrade their products through innovative packaging systems.
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