Our daily life nowadays we use a lot of different packaging from detergent packaging to plastic cups; and people are looking more into sustainable solution for their packaging system. Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology (that includes Meisha Shofner, an associate professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering and the interim executive director of the Renewable Bioproducts Institute, John R. Reynolds, a professor in the schools of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Materials Science and Engineering, and Chinmay Satam, a graduate student at Georgia Tech) have created a material derived from crab shells and tree fibers that has the potential to replace the flexible plastic packaging used to keep food fresh.
They have found new packaging solution to make film from chitin from crap shell combined with cellulose fibers from trees. They are trying to produce material that are closely reassembled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) which is one of the most common material used in food packaging. PET is known for its superiority of transparency.
This team of researchers has made a flexible film by spraying multiple layers of chitin from crab shells and cellulose from trees. They come up with this 2 source material because Cellulose, which comes from plants, is the planet’s most common natural biopolymer, followed next by chitin, which is found in shellfish, insects and fungi.
They make a solution of cellulose and chitin nanofibres and then spraying them into a surface in alternating layers; then it is dried. Once it dried down it will form a flexible, strong transparent and compostable material. They spray them in the alternating layers due to their finding that the chitin nanofibers are positively charged, and the cellulose nanocrystals are negatively charged, so they might work well as alternating layers in coatings because they would form a nice interface between them.
They figure out that their discovery has better oxygen permeability/gas barrier properties compare to some other from of PET that is available. Higher gas barrier properties mean that food can be kept fresh longer.
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology