ITENE succeeds in reducing the adhesion of materials to surfaces to facilitate easy emptying of containers



The ITENE research centre has succeeded in reducing the adhesion of the liquids present in sauces (water and oil) to the materials of the containers that contain them in order to facilitate their emptying.

This is a breakthrough with high added value, as it helps to achieve maximum product utilisation, minimising the generation of food waste and facilitating the recycling of plastic containers.



This has been possible thanks to the BIOSURFINK project, funded by the Department of Innovation, Universities, Science and Digital Society through the Directorate General for Innovation (January - December 2021), in which strategies have been developed to chemically modify the surface of a material and provide new associated functionalities. In the tests carried out, the free surface energy of a recycled polymer used by the food packaging industry in the manufacture of containers for the distribution of sauces has been reduced. After chemical modification, the adhesion of liquids was significantly reduced.


Thus, functional surfaces have been developed to provide them with new properties such as low adhesion for easy emptying. In this sense, the head of the BIOSURFINK project and head of the Printing Technologies and Functional Surfaces Unit of ITENE, Jesús Palenzuela, points out that these developments "are in line with the European requirements of circular economy, since the surface treatment will have an impact on the recycling of packaging, so that varnishes and coatings can be dispensed with and, in addition, reduce food waste".


The BIOSURFINK project has also worked on the development of bio-based coloured inks for the sustainable printing of flexible packaging by flexography. To achieve these developments, polymeric matrices from bio-based sources have been used. Likewise, for the choice of pigments, renewable sources have been chosen, including carbonaceous materials for obtaining the black colour or coloured derivatives from extracts.


To obtain the inks, the individual components have been dispersed in mixtures of solvents derived from vegetable sources and/or water. In this way, the inks obtained help to reduce the carbon footprint, to minimise waste generation, to avoid the emission of volatile organic compounds and not to depend on fossil sources to obtain inks for the printing industry. In addition, they have a high added value, as they facilitate obtaining compostability certificates for the articles on which they are printed.

In addition, conductive inks have been formulated for low-cost inkjet printing to replace conventional inks, mostly based on silver particles, which are more expensive. This gives the printed electronics industry a competitive advantage for the manufacture of sensors, antennas, conductive tracks and circuits and other product traceability and authentication systems.


These developments will be validated in packaging materials and in companies using printing techniques such as flexography and inkjet, as well as in companies in the packaging sector, those manufacturing rigid and flexible packaging, cartonboard and paperboard for premium sectors such as cartons for high value-added products, pharmaceutical packaging, and e-commerce packaging.



Return to the list