Founded in 1988, the University of Salerno is located in Fisciano in the Irno Valley, Italy. It is the one of the leading universities in Southern Italy and features state-of-the art facilities and modern campus. The Department of Industrial Engineering at the laboratories of Technology of Polymers is researching on the development of PLA nanocomposite films for food packaging applications.
The plastic industry is increasingly adopting the usage of natural polymers in food packaging, in response to the regulatory pressure concerning waste reduction and increasing consumer awareness regarding environmental issues. In the production of food packaging, the Poly-lactic acid (PLA) is one of the most commonly used biopolymers that provides mechanical and physical performances as compared to traditional thermoplastic materials. It also offers properties like grease resistance; a high barrier to aromas; printability and high transparency that are important to food packaging products. The PLA can be processed using traditional technologies. However, it also has certain performance limitations including its water and oxygen barrier properties. This has inhibited application possibilities, such as packaging for foods that have a short shelf life (fresh fruit and vegetable containers, water bottles, yoghurt pots and juices).
With an aim to solve this issue, the research centre at the University of Salerno has chosen the Systech Illinois 7002 water vapour permeation analyser for their research into developing PLA nanocomposites. The research group is evaluating the permeability of water vapour in the PLA nanocomposite films by using the analyser, which has a capacity to measure 0.002-1000 g/m2/day. The research group is also aiming to improve the PLA’s properties by mixing it with other biopolymers and through the addition of nanofillers. The Systech Illinois 7002 provides fast response and persistently accurate measurements with absolute moisture measurement.