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Sustainable packaging materials with improved barrier properties

Keywords: barrier properties, nanocomposite materials, hybrid organic/inorganic materials, biodegradable packaging materials, PLA, nanocellulose
Fig.1 Schematic of a random nanocomposite system (a) and calculated O2 concentration profile in it (b). (Author M. Giacinti Baschetti)
Fig.2: effect of water humidity on O2 permeability in microfibrillated cellulose films with respect to other barrier polymers. (M. Giacinti Baschetti)

The research activity on packaging materials started in early 2000s with the participation to National projects and networks aggregating different synthesis and characterization groups around the idea of building barrier nanocomposites as well as hybrid organic/inorganic coatings for traditional packaging materials. The goal was to reduce the amount of material required to protect the packaged goods against oxygen, humidity and other fluids passing through the film.

In 2004 the group joined a large collaborative FP6 project named SUSTAINPACK which was specifically devoted to the development of new, sustainable eco-friendly composite packaging materials based on natural substances: cellulose, polylactic acid, and so on. The activity on sustainable packaging as then never stopped and is still ongoing both within different european project such as the International training network NEWGENPAK and the COST Actions BIOMATPACK and ACTINPAK, as well as through direct collaborations with Italian and international Companies and Universities.

In this research field the group is currently involved in the study of barrier properties of microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) and/or graphene films and coating and is highly specialised in the characterization of gas permeability in packaging materials, both in dry and humid conditions, as well as in the measurement of moisture absorption at different temperatures. The work carried out in the field produced one Italian Patent on the deposition of MFC films on PLA in order to obtain a completely biodegradable barrier packaging material.

Several modelling tools based on both numerical and analytical approach are available to describe the experimental data with particular reference to the analysis of the behaviour of nanocomposites materials as well as system with defective barrier coatings.

Apart from these activities in the same framework also other research are carried out such as the study of corrosion protective coatings or of polymer swelling during sorption.


Colombo V., De Angelis M.G., Giacinti Baschetti M., Gherardi M., Laurita R., Minelli M. (2013). Metodo per la realizzazione di un materiale multistrato. BO2013A000364

Main publications

Toni E., Giacinti Baschetti M., Lorenzetti C., Fayet P., Sarti G.C. (2016). Effects of random defect distributions in the barrier coating on the gas permeability of multilayer films, Surface & Coatings Technology, 302, pp. 65–74

Davis E.M., Minelli M., Giacinti Baschetti M., Sarti G.C., Elabd Y.A. (2013). Non-Fickian Diffusion of Water in Polylactide. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, 52, pp. 8664-8673

Davis E.M., Minelli M., Giacinti Baschetti M., Sarti G.C., Elabd Y.A. (2012), Nonequilibrium Sorption of Water in Polylactide, Macromolecules, 45, pp. 7486-7494,

Minelli M., Giacinti Baschetti M., Doghieri F. (2011). A comprehensive model for mass transport properties in nanocomposites, Journal of Membrane Science, 381, pp. 10 - 20.

Deflorian F., Fedel M., Dirè S., Tagliazucca V., Bongiovanni R., Vescovo L., Minelli M., De Angelis M.G. (2011). Study of the effect of organically functionalized silica nanoparticles on the properties of UV curable acrylic coatings, Progress In Organic Coatings, 72, pp. 44 - 51.

Minelli M., Giacinti Baschetti M., Doghieri F., Ankerfors M., Lindström T., Siró I., Plackett D. (2010). Investigation of mass transport properties of microfibrillated cellulose (MFC) films, Journal of Membrane Science, 358, pp. 67 - 75.

Minelli M., Giacinti Baschetti M., Doghieri F. (2009). Analysis of modeling results for barrier properties in ordered nanocomposite systems, Journal of Membrane Science, 2009, 327, pp. 208 - 215.

Minelli M., De Angelis M.G., Doghieri F., Rocchetti M., Montenero A. (2010). Barrier properties of organic-inorganic hybrid coatings based on polyvinyl alcohol with improved water resistance, Polymer Engineering and Science, 50, pp. 144 - 153

Malucelli G., Amerio E., Minelli M., De Angelis M.G. (2009). Epoxy-siloxane hybrid coatings by a dual-curing process, Advances In Polymer Technology, 28, pp. 77 - 85

Minelli M., De Angelis M.G., Doghieri F., Marini M., Toselli M., Pilati F. (2008). Oxygen permeability of novel organic–inorganic coatings: I. Effects of organic–inorganic ratio and molecular weight of the organic component, European Polymer Journal, 44, pp. 2581 – 2588.

Toselli M., Pilati F., Marini M., Doghieri F., De Angelis M.G., Minelli M. (2008). Oxygen permeability of novel organic–inorganic coatings: II. Modification of the organic component with a hydrogen- bond forming polymer, European Polymer Journal, 44, pp. 3256 – 3263

Malucelli G., Priola A., Amerio E., Pollicino A., di Pasquale G., Pizzi D., De Angelis M. G., Doghieri F. (2007). Surface and barrier properties of hybrid nanocomposites containing silica and PEO segments, Journal Of Applied Polymer Science, 103, pp. 4107 - 4115.

Research projects

COST Action FP1405 - ACTINPAK - Active and intelligent fibre-based packaging - innovation and market introduction

NEWGENPAK Marie Curie Initial Training Network (GA 290098): ”New Generation of Functional Cellulose Fibre Based Packaging Materials for Sustainability”

COST Action FP1003 - BIOMATPACK "Impact of Renewable Materials in Packaging for Sustainability: Development of Renewable Fibre and Biobased materials for New Packaging Applications"

FP6 Large Collaborative Project SUSTAINPACK: Innovation and Sustainable Development in the Fibre Based Packaging Value Chain.