Projects in workpackage 1

Fellow type & number
(ESR or ER)
Individual Research project (title) Host Institution
ER-1 (24 months) The development of printable, high barrier, mineral based coatings for packaging applications. IMERYS & Chesapeake (UK)
ESR-1 (36 months) The effect of interactions between biopolymers, nanofillers and additives in barrier dispersions on the flow properties and on the properties of the coated materials. Karlstad University (Sweden)
ESR-2 (36 months) Modelling the distribution of biopolymer, plasticiser and water in the clay galleries – contribution to the barrier properties. Sheffield Hallam University (UK)
ESR-3 (36 months) Novel clay/nanocellulose biocomposite films and coatings in the context of new packaging materials. Danish Technical University
ESR-4 (36 months) Analysis and modelling of gas barrier properties of biodegradable MFC-clay bionanocomposites. University of Bologna (Italy)

The Development of Printable, High Barrier Functionality, Mineral Based Coatings for Packaging Applications. (Kalina Malinova)

This a joint appointment in which the ER will work at IMERYS in year 1 and Chesapeake in year 2. The ER will learn how to develop the next generation of cost-competitive, liquid barrier cartonboard packaging where the barrier layers comprise > 90% renewable materials. The coatings will be systematically developed and extensively characterised at IMERYS. The ER will then plan and lead, under expert guidance at Chesapeake, the scale up of the candidate coatings with the best barrier properties leading to pilot trials that will ensure the compatibility of the coating process within a production environment.

The effect of interactions between biopolymers, nanofillers and additives in barrier dispersions on the flow properties and on the properties of the coated materials (Yana Petkova, KaU):

Under expert guidance at KaU the ESR will utilise complex rheological measurements of coating suspensions at very high solids content to gain information about the structure within these suspensions. This challenging task, which requires robust, reproducible methods of measuring the modulus above the gelation threshold will provide crucial new data about how the structure of the dispersion can be controlled. Free films and draw-down coatings of these dispersions will be produced and the influences of the wet structure on the architecture of the resulting dry films/coatings will be scrutinised. The experimentally determined barrier properties and the gas transportation data will be fitted to theoretical models of gas diffusion.

Modelling the distribution of biopolymer, plasticiser and water in the clay galleries – contribution to the barrier properties. (Nikita Siminel, SHU)

The ESR will use parallel molecular dynamics and Grand canonical Monte Carloapproaches to solvate realistic clay structural models with selected amounts of water, plasticiser and starch both alone and simultaneously from binary and ternary mixtures at different ratios. This will provide, as yet unavailable, molecular-scale structural arrangements as a function of adsorbate composition, gallery spacing and type/charge of exchange cation. The heterogenous nature of the natural clays and the biopolymers represents a particularly complex system and the models will need to reflect this while still reporting the critical information which is required to inform regarding the specific combinations of clay, starch, and plasticiser required to deliver WVTR values of < 10 g m-2 day-1.

Novel clay/nanocellulose biocomposite films and coatings in the context of new packaging materials  (Jon Trifol Guzman, DTU)

The anticipated benefits of hybrid nanocomposite films containing both nanoclay and MFC, will be thoroughly explored and their reliance on biopolymer, nanofiller type(s), weight ratios and mixing procedures will be determined. Utilising the combination of expertise in biopolymers, clay and nanocellulose available within NEWGENPAK the ESR will overcome the specific challenges associated with the commercial uptake of these novel bioplastics. Those spin-cast formulations exhibiting the greatest barriers to oxygen and water will be melt processed in order to obtain more industrially relevant samples for evaluation by microscopy, x-ray scattering and other advanced techniques.

Analysis and modelling of gas barrier properties of biodegradable MFC-clay bionanocomposites  (Caglar Mericer, UNIBO)

The ESR will produce and comprehensively characterise, flexible bionanocomposite materials with much enhanced barrier properties by informed utilisation of MFC based nanostructured coatings or fillers. The ESR will focus on the fundamental and practical analysis of mass transport processes in nanostructured material with the target of developing reliable structure-property relationships that account for the effect of key factors that influence the barrier properties. This modelling activity, based on continuum mechanics and mesoscale approaches, will be combined with the results from the materials characterisation used to develop structure-properties relationships potentially useful for an optimised approach to material design and process applications.