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‘Unique’ oxygen scavenging method cheaper, more efficient, says company

By Rory Harrington , 10-Nov-2010

An innovative series of oxygen scavenging additives designed for use in a raft of plastic packaging materials are cheaper, more efficient and simpler to apply than conventional techniques, said NanoBioMatters.

The Spanish company said its O2Block additives can be directly dispersed into LDPE, HDPE, PP, PET, and PLA for food applications to maximise shelf life. The firm hailed this advance as “unique” and said it expected strongest demand to come from segments for processed and fatty foods such as processed meats, snacks, sauces and nuts.

The incorporation of the additives into the packaging material means it is easier than methods that use packets or sachets because they are “not present as a foreign object”, Ole Faarbaek, NanoBioMatters North America vice president, told FoodProductionDaily.com.

“It is simpler and more economical to implement than a UV activated system because no additional process equipment is needed for the converter,” he added.

Performance enhancer

The patent-pending technology is based on surface-modified phyllosilicate clay that is functionalized with active iron to create a naturally sourced and highly efficient oxygen scavenging product. The intricate multi-step process produces a clay-iron composite which acts as a performance-enhancing carrier of the oxygen-scavenging iron.

“The clay works as a highly effective delivery vehicle for the active iron within the polymer,” said Faarbaek. “The clay itself is modified chemically to adhere well to the polymer.”

Oxygen is depleted from the package by migrating through the packaging material and reacting with the dispersed active iron from the O2Block additive. The iron reacts with oxygen to produce iron oxide which remains within the packaging material – with the clay working as a barrier for any migration.

Faarbaek said the novel system provided greater versatility and efficiency than rival methods.

“Initial studies show that the high dispersion and thereby availability of the active substance within the polymer, should give better kinetics and deplete more oxygen for the same amount of iron,” he added. “The effective dispersion maximizes the access to the active iron which ensures minimum reaction time and a very uniform protection of the packaged goods.”

Final stage

He confirmed the product was now entering the final developmental stages and commercial tests with major converters to verify the initial results were currently under way. Commercialisation is expected early next year.

All ingredients in the additives are generally recognised as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the food contact approval status from the European Union is expected in a “few months”, said Faarbaek.

The oxygen scavenger is supplied as a micronized powder or a masterbatch – with scavenging capacity directly linked to the amount of active iron. Dosing is tailored to the individual application by adjusting the masterbatch loading and/or active clay content to meet the required scavenging performance. The oxygen scavenger can be used in loadings of 1 per cent to 10 per cent in HDPE, LDPE, PET, and PLA, said NanoBioMatters.

The Valencia-based company operates a 2,500 metric ton/yr additive plant in Vall D’Uixo, Spain, and a 4,000 metric ton/yr masterbatch production facility in Valencia.

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