Innovative Smart Materials and Sensors for Packaging of Raw and Processed Food Products
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (2017), annually one third of the globally produced food for human consumption (1.3 billion tonnes), gets lost or is wasted. If we can prevent food waste, sufficient food is produced to feed the world, and improved packaging concepts will play a big role in achieving this, be it through improved packaging materials, better sealing, or better sensing that allows monitoring of decay processes occurring inside the package. These three topics are the core of this multi-disciplinary project, and that will lead to the package of the future made accessible for our industrial partners. To achieve this, we will need to advance (scientific) knowledge far beyond its’ current boundaries therewith creating a unique position for the Dutch packaging and food industry.
The work packages revolve around: 1 New materials, 2. Improved sealing, 3. Innovative sensors, 4. Design of the package of the future.
Plastic materials re-enforced with bio-based nanoparticles is a new field of research that will lead amongst others to improved mechanical and barrier (gas- and water permeation) and antimicrobial surfaces. These aspects are essential to increase shelf life of fresh and processed foods.
Sealing and closing of plastic packaging may be applied very widely, but micro leakages occur in 1-4% of the packages, and these leakages are hard to detect. This work package focuses on identifying the closing mechanism and developing a simulation model that can be used to design and engineer packaging and closing mechanisms, which is uncharted territory in open literature.
Sensors are readily available but their cost prevents wide-spread application. We will fabricate battery-free, cheap (< 0.025 Euro/sensor) optical sensors with high speed printing techniques (flexography, inkjet printing), as an integrated part of the package, therewith allowing both time-temperature recording, and that of specific analytes such as pH, CO2, H2 etc. that can be used for early detection of spoilage.
In the last work package all the aspects investigated in the previous 3 will be integrated into a tool that can be used by the industrial partners for the design of their packaging concept of the future. In this way, those aspects that are of greatest importance for a product category can be maximally tailored in packaging design. At least one demonstrator package of the future will be delivered with the program.
The project consortium consists of the 4 technical universities (TU Delft, Eindhoven University of Technology, University of Twente and University of Wageningen), Wageningen Food & Biobased Research and industrial partners Avery Dennison, Heineken, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Oerlemans Plastics, Royal Peijenburg, Trivium Packaging and Yparex
Smart Technologies are developed and applied to improve packaging and reduce food loss. This will help to solve one of the main social challenges; securing that enough food is available to feed the world. The smart technologies include sensors that monitor the quality of food within a package, technologies that prevent leakage of packaging products and innovative new packaging materials.
This project addresses main social challenges (food security, climate change) and develops smart solutions that will be applied in low cost commodity goods (food packaging). Moreover, the multi-disciplinary approach with involvement of al 4 TU combined with a wide range of industrial partners stimulates the implementation of smart materials and technologies.
The main deliverables are:
WP1: A nanocomposite packing material with improved properties compared to poly-lactic acid that is generally considered the benchmark for biodegradable packing material
WP2: A simulation model, that can be used to design proper closing mechanisms, that will also be validated on lab scale first and next large scale, ideally at the site of one of the participating companies.
WP3: The main deliverable is a time analyte sensor made at low cost and as part of the food package of the future.
WP4: Findings from WP1-3 will be used to construct a design tool to which all work packages will contribute, and demonstrators for the specific applications identified by the industrial partners. The ideal deliverable is a fully integrate package of the future containing all the technology developed within the program
Meetings and reports:
• Progress reports are prepared two times per year.
• An annual consortium meeting for all members
• M2i cluster meetings are organized two times a year.
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