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  • The Permeation and Barrier Materials Learnshop

    Posted on 04/04/2016

    by Phil Neal


    The latest meeting in the RDM Learnshop series, held at The Institute of Materials / The Packaging Society, Grantham, focused on packaging materials and their impact on shelf life. The Learnshop attracted delegates from across the UK, who enjoyed a wide range of informative lectures.

    Andreas Roos - Mocon, presented the basics of permeations covering definitions of chemical potential, driving forces, partial pressure, diffusion, solubility, and Fick's law. He then explained the influence on permeation of temperature, humidity and material thickness. Examples of film and package testing were explained, and looking to recent developments active packaging materials combining gas scavengers were examined. In a 2nd lecture, Andreas discussed testing standards, methods, and advances in laboratory equipment.

    Dr Esra Kucukpinar - Fraunhofer Institute, shared her experience of applying permeation data for understanding product shelf life. After explaining the scope of research undertaken at Fraunhofer Institute, delegates were shown numerous examples of the multiple factors affecting shelf life, and the theoretical calculations for optimising material choices. Examples included fresh produce, coffee, and vacuum insulation panels used in the building industry. Dr Kucukpinar then discussed the challenges of developing high barrier films, covering the methods of production, barrier performance measurements and a look to the future applications.

    James Shipman - Camvac, presented an interesting history of the vacuum metallisation process, through to current methods of producing metalised films, their applications and properties. A look at the causes of poor barrier revealed pin holes, fractures and surface contamination as common issues, and James explained how these can be avoided through a variety of technologies.

    Tony Duffy, CAFRA, shared his knowledge of permeability issues for the food industry, within the scope of the training and education undertaken by the packaging team at Loughry College. A review of the main gases and benefits of each used in modified atmosphere packaging was followed by a review of the different methods of processing, and how shelf life can be extended for different products. Finally, Tony discussed the needs for breathable and perforated films to address the different respiration rates of fresh produce.

    Dr Chris Berry - PIRA, explained the testing and consultancy services offered, and for existing users of permeation lab equipment the benefits of the PIRA proficiency service.

    The next Learnshops will be posted on the RDM website, and invitations can be sought by registering for the RDM e-Newsletter, or contacting Phil Neal at RDM Test Equipment.