International. Researchers at the University of Bayreuth have developed an environmentally friendly coating, a complete replacement for the millions of plastic packaging materials used worldwide.
The Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1357 Microplastics combines the expertise of the University of Bayreuth to analyze the mechanisms and processes of biological effects, transport and formation of microplastics.
Prof. Dr. Josef Breu, president of Inorganic Chemistry I, is a member of the SFB and leads the project "Degradation of biodegradable polymers and their clay nanocomposites under relevant environmental conditions" together with Prof. Seema Agarwal (Macromolecular Chemistry II).
The project aims to provide material solutions to the problem of microplastics from important market sectors, such as food packaging, which end up in industrial composting plants when discarded together with food waste and which enter the natural environment in large quantities when discarded carelessly.
Now, Maximilian Röhrl, a PhD student of Prof. Dr. Josef Breu, has been working on the development of eco-friendly coatings based on layered synthetic silicates as part of his doctoral thesis in recent years. Among other things, he has researched barrier films.
These are the layer between the packaging and the product and therefore protect the food from contamination, dust or moisture. The barrier films developed by Röhrl have an effect comparable to that of plastic films, but are more environmentally friendly because they are compostable.
Maximilian Röhrl's work is based on many years of research by Prof. Dr. Josef Breu in the field of layered silicates. The current research, which is anchored at SFB Microplastics, links Röhrl and Breu's work to industry.
"The cooperation with our industrial partner Procter & Gamble shows that our research is practical and also has relevance outside basic research," said Prof. Dr. Josef Breu.
Breu and Röhrl, along with Dr. Pier-Lorenzo Caruso and Dr. Emily Boswell of Procter & Gamble, are being honored in recognition of their invention "that provides a new, recyclable, compostable, sustainable and flexible paper barrier laminate in the ecological, technical and economically significant field of paper-based packaging materials," It reads in the mention of the award.
The quote further stated: "These novel barrier laminates offer a complete replacement for the millions of plastic packaging materials and plastic laminates that are used worldwide, without their serious drawbacks, such as the formation of microplastics."