Biodegradable Polymers for Food Packaging
Plastic Materials for Food Packaging
Food packaging helps to prolong the shelf-life of food products and facilitates their transport and storage. Moreover, food packaging represents a useful marketing tool and provides information to the consumer. Up to now mostly petroleum based materials like polyethylene (PE), polystyrene (PS) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are used for food packaging due to their low price and their good processing and physico-chemical properties. With environmental concerns rising in terms of litter pollution and limited oil resources, a replacement of these materials by a more sustainable alternative becomes reasonable. Hence, present research focuses on the use of biopolymers for food packaging.
The aim of this sub-project is the synthesis of new biodegradable polymers and the characterization of their physico-chemical properties. For example, the barrier properties towards oxygen and moisture will be tested as well as the mechanical properties. Furthermore, the biodegradability of the polymers will be examined. In cooperation with the Department Aquatic Ecotoxicology at the Goethe University Frankfurt, which is also part of the PlastX group, influences of the synthesized polymers on several biotic environments can be detected.
For the synthesis of new polymers established polymerization techniques like free radical polymerization or polycondensation will be used. Moreover, existing natural polymers can be modified using basic reactions in organic chemistry. For the polymer characterization common analytic methods like size exclusion chromatography (SEC), 1H NMR spectroscopy or dynamic light scattering (DLS) will be used. Besides others, the mechanical properties can be examined by stress-strain tests.
This sub-project will be performed at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz which is part of the PlastX group.
Tobias Haider is working on this sub-project.