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Plasma treatment facilitates liquid absorption of open?cell polystyrene foam used as soak?away in food packaging. This technology is clean and efficient in increasing surface wettability and enhancing sucking capillary pressure of the PS foam. Therefore, food exudate can be instantly absorbed by the foam structure without the need for chemical wetting agents.AbstractFree?moving meat exudate in plastic packaging is perceived as unhygienic and unattractive by consumers. It facilitates the deterioration of meat quality and safety, increasing meat waste and loss. This work discusses an innovative approach in scavenging meat exudate within commercial plastic packaging. This involves improving the liquid absorption capabilities of open?cell polystyrene (PS) foam through the application of oxygen plasma treatment rather than chemical wetting agents. The excited plasma species diffuse into the porous foam structure introducing polar oxygen groups onto the pore walls and improves their surface hydrophilicity. Hence, the foam pores, with enhanced wettability towards water?based liquids, are proposed to have a larger sucking capillary pressure thus increasing the absorption capacity of the porous PS foam. The specific liquid absorption capacity of PS foam sheets (thickness: 5?mm) increased from 1.09?g?g?1 (grams of exudate simulant liquid absorbed per gram of PS foam) to 8.78?g?g?1 as a result of plasma treatment; an eightfold increase in liquid capacity (g?g?1) that persisted even 60?days post treatment. This study demonstrates the practicality of using plasma treatment as a non?chemical and efficient technology in scavenging meat and food exudates in plastic packaging.

Publication date: 15/02/2022

Journal of Applied Polymer Science


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.