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Strategies to Improve the Barrier and Mechanical Properties of Pectin Films for Food Packaging: Comparing Nanocomposites with Bilayers

Traditional food packaging systems help reduce food wastage, but they also produce environmental impacts when not properly disposed of. Bio-based polymers are a promising solution to overcome these impacts, but they have poor barrier and mechanical properties. This work evaluates two strategies to improve these properties in pectin films: the incorporation of cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) or sodium montmorillonite (MMT) nanoparticles, and an additional layer of chitosan (i.e., a bilayer film). The bionanocomposites and bilayer films were characterized in terms of optical, morphological, hygroscopic, mechanical and barrier properties. The inclusion of the nanofillers in the polymer reduced the water vapor permeability and the hydrophilicity of the films without compromising their visual properties (i.e., their transparency). However, the nanoparticles did not substantially improve the mechanical properties of the bionanocomposites. Regarding the bilayer films, FTIR and contact angle studies revealed no surface and/or chemical modifications, confirming only physical coating/lamination between the two polymers. These bilayer films exhibited a dense homogenous structure, with intermediate optical and hygroscopic properties. An additional layer of chitosan did not improve the mechanical, water vapor and oxygen barrier properties of the pectin films. However, this additional layer made the material more hydrophobic, which may play an important role in the application of pectin as a food packaging material.

Publication date: 18/01/2022

Author: Victor Gomes Lauriano Souza

Reference: doi: 10.3390/coatings12020108

MDPI (coatings)


This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 837761.