NEW SUSTAINABLE PROCESSING TECHNOLOGIES TO PRODUCE HEALTHY, VALUE-ADDED FOODS FROM SPECIALTY CROPS AND THEIR CO-PRODUCTS
Location: Processed Foods Research
Title: Miniaturization of cellulose fibers and effect of addition on the mechanical and barrier properties of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
Submitted to: Journal of Food Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: December 4, 2010
Publication Date: December 9, 2010
Citation: De Moura, M.R., Avena Bustillos, R.D., Mc Hugh, T.H., Wood, D.F., Zucolotto, V., Otoni, C.G., Mattoso, L.H. 2010. Miniaturization of cellulose fibers and effect of addition on the mechanical and barrier properties of hydroxypropyl methylcellulose. Journal of Food Engineering. doi:10.1016/j.jfoodeng.2010.12.008.
Interpretive Summary: Cellulose microfibers were effectively reduced in size using microfluidics, a promising new technology with potential for mass production at a reduced cost with fewer steps. Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer in the world, is the main constituent of wood and has many good mechanical properties that make it a useful ingredient in many applications, such as fillers for composite materials. We’ve added the cellulose microfibers that we generated to hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, a water soluble and biodegradable material, to improve the mechanical and barrier properties of the resulting films with the goal of producing a biodegradable and compostible food packaging material. This packaging material should greatly decrease the waste going into landfill and thus, be a huge benefit to mankind.
Cellulose fibers were miniaturized by microfluidics technology and incorporated in hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) films to study the effect of the addition of such fibers on the mechanical and barrier properties of HPMC films suitable for food packaging applications. The particle size of the fibers and the mechanical properties, water vapor and oxygen permeabilities, total pore volume, and light and electron microscopy micrographs of films were analyzed. Incorporation of cellulose fibers into the films improved their mechanical and barrier properties significantly. This study is the first to investigate the use of microfluidics technology for the purpose of size reduction of cellulose fibers and the addition of these microfibers to improve physical properties of HPMC films.