The NEWGENPAK ITN is an interdisciplinary research training network with an extensive resource of complementary expertise which incorporates all the required disciplines for sustainable package innovation; from chemistry, materials science, biopolymer chemistry, nanoparticle production and characterisation, paper, board, innovative coating formulation and processing methods, package concept, design, testing, production, and the societal perspective. Consequently, NEWGENPAK encompasses the entire package from the nanoscale, through the fabrication of component materials, to the delivery of concept.
The overarching research aim of NEWGENPAK is to take wood cellulose based packaging materials a significant step forward by replacing petroleum-based additives used in paper and board packaging materials in order to achieve the barrier and other crucial properties needed for competitive, low carbon footprint, packaging materials. This must be achieved using sustainable production methods whilst producing a cohort of excellently trained ERs\ESRs.
The scientific work programme is divided into THREE workpackages (WP1, WP2 and WP3) that broadly address barrier coatings, active coatings and the sustainability of the resulting product, respectively. The progress beyond the state of the art will be delivered via the individual, original research projects, which represent the key training vehicles for the Experienced and Early Stage Researchers.
Workpackage 1 – Next Generation Packaging Composites
The objectives of this WP are to develop (i) water-borne biopolymer-based coating systems that combine high solids content and competitive barrier properties, (ii) hybrid nanocomposite films containing both cellulose whiskers and nanoclays for advanced packaging applications, (iii) a computational model to identify the key interactions between biopolymer, plasticiser and clay that give rise to the excellent barrier properties of dispersion coatings and self-supporting films, (iv) a gas permeation model which can be used to deliver the desired mass transport properties of industrially produced nanocomposite coatings and reliably describe critical structure-property relationships.
Workpackage 2 – Next generation cellulose-fibre based active packaging
The objectives of this WP are to develop (i) new techniques for grafting of functional groups onto microfibrillated cellulose and cellulose whiskers, (ii) essential oil additives to provide functional properties such as antioxidant and antimicrobial, (iii) stable multiphase dispersions in which the active nanocapsules are homogeneously distributed and can be delivered by industrial ink jet printing systems and (iv) cellulose paper board with printed electronics.
Workpackage 3 – Sustainable production of packaging
The aims of Workpackage 4, ‘Package production: environmental, economic and societal aspects‘, are to analyse and optimise the packaging process and the delivery of coatings so that they are as sustainable as possible. The key aims are to (i) assess package production and its effect on product losses, (ii) define suitable indicators for assessing the sustainability of the new active packaging solutions, and (iii) assess the sustainability (environmental, social and economic) of the new packaging solutions, including recycling, energy recovery and biodegradability/composting.