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Improving Barrier Properties of Xylan-Coated Food Packaging Papers with Alkyl Ketene Dimer

In order to improve the hydrophobicity of xylan hemicellulose, a simple procedure of its chemical modification with alkyl ketene dimer (AKD), a non-toxic, cost-effective, and eco-friendly chemical, was performed. For this purpose, the reaction products of beech wood xylan and different amounts of hydrophobic AKD were used for paper surface treatment. Thus, the coatings of about 4.5 g/m2 were applied on both sides of base paper in single and three successive layers. To obtain a complete reaction between AKD and xylan hemicellulose, the coated papers were thermal cured (about 110 °C) and the effects of AKD content on the barrier (water, oil, and water vapours) and mechanical properties were analysed. The structural analyses by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR) of coated samples emphasized the presence of β-keto-ester compounds as a result of the reaction between xylan hemicelluloses and AKD. This is confirmed by the improving of barrier properties as the AKD content in coating dispersion is higher. The good barrier performance and improved strength properties were obtained for the coated papers with xylan hemicellulose and 1% AKD applied on paper surface in three successive layers (about 4.5 g/m2). In this case, the water vapours transmission rate (WVTR) was 35% lower than those untreated and the resistance to air passing through coated papers was over 3 times higher compared with base paper. There are no results reported on the chemical reaction of xylan hemicelluloses with AKD as well as its application in coatings for paper packaging. In this context, the obtained results in this study can contribute to expand the applications area of hemicelluloses offering a sustainable strategy for the developing of food packaging papers with appropriate barrier properties using biopolymer coating materials.

Publication date: 06/12/2022

Author: Petronela Nechita

Reference: doi: 10.3390/su142316255

MDPI (sustainability)


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.