Fabrication and Characterization of Biodegradable PLA-Zeolite Composites

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Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) enhances quality extends the shelf life of perishable foods and prevents loss revenues due to food spoilage. MAP is required because the balance and interaction of certain gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen with packaged foods contributes to either poor or high food quality. Advances in packaging materials and systems that enable more control of the quantities of gases for food and pharmaceutical packaging applications are beneficial. Michigan State University’s invention provides bio-based multi-functional plastic packaging material based on polylactide (PLA) and zeolites. The packaging material exhibits properties that enable control of the permeability of oxygen and carbon dioxide in packaging systems. Specifically the material allows increased retention of carbon dioxide and the expulsion of oxygen from packaging systems which enables extended shelf life and improved product quality. Applications: The primary application is for food packaging applications including ready-to-eat meals fresh produce and meats. This invention also is useful for modified atmosphere packaging applications for foods pharmaceuticals and agricultural products. IP Protection Status: Patent pending


(1) Increased shelf life and quality of fresh foods: The PLA-Zeolite composites enable selective gas exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen which promotes a balance that favors extended shelf life and freshness. (2) Value-added cost effectiveness of packaging material: The PLA-Zeolite composites minimize revenue loss from the return of spoiled foodstuffs and increase shelf life enabling a longer opportunity to sell fresh food products. (3) Bio-based (PLA) membrane structures with improved performance characteristics: The PLA-Zeolite membranes exhibit significantly better permselectivity for carbon dioxide over oxygen than neat PLA. For modified atmosphere packaging applications it is ideal to trap a certain level of carbon dioxide and expel oxygen.

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