Material made from crab shells could possibly replace plastic packaging

Material made from crab shells could possibly replace plastic packaging

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Researchers at the Georgia Institute for Technology have created a material produced by crab shells and tree material which they believe has the potential to switch the flexible plastic packaging utilized to keep food fresh.

The brand new material is made by spraying a variety of layers of chitin from crab seashells and cellulose from trees to create a flexible film similar to plastic packaging film.

“The main benchmark that we compare it to is PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, one of the most common petroleum-based materials in the translucent packaging you see in selling machines and soft drink wines,” said J. Carson Meredith, a good professor at Georgia Tech’s College of Chemical and Biomolecular Anatomist.

“Our material showed up to a 67% decrease in oxygen permeability over many forms of PET, which means it might in theory keep foods more fresh longer.”

The researchers said that cellulose, that will come from plants, is the international most common natural biopolymer, followed subsequent by chitin, which is found in seafood, insects and fungi. 

The workforce devised a method to create a movie by suspending cellulose and chitin nanofibres in drinking water and spraying them in a surface in switching layers. Once fully dehydrated, the material is flexible, powerful, transparent and compostable.

Meredith added: “We has been looking at cellulose nanocrystals for several years and checking out ways to improve those to get used in lightweight composites and even food packaging, because of the large market opportunity for renewable together with compostable packaging, and how important foods packaging overall is going to be as being the population continues to grow.”

The team have been looking into chitin for an unrelated rationale when they wondered if it will often have use in food packaging.

“We acknowledged that because the chitin nanofibres are really charged, and the cellulose nanocrystals are in a negative way charged, they might work well seeing that alternating layers in completes because they would form a pleasant interface between them,” Meredith claimed.

Packaging meant to preserve food must prevent oxygen from growing through. Part of the reason the brand new material improves upon regular plastic packaging as a gasoline barrier is because of the crystalline framework of the film.

“It’s difficult for your gas molecule to penetrate a solid crystal, because it has to affect the crystal structure,Inch Meredith said. “Something like PET alternatively has a significant amount of amorphous or non-crystalline content, so there are more pathways easier for a small propane gas molecule to find its technique through.”

To make the new fabric eventually competitive with flexible presentation film on cost, any manufacturing process that maximizes market of scale will need to be engineered.

Additionally, while industrial processes to mass produce cellulose are mature, processes to produce chitin are still in their start up phase, the researchers said. More studies is also needed to improve the material’s ability to block water vapour.

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