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issue 04/2021

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  • Toys
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Highlights: Toys Thermoforming Basics: Bio-Polypropylene

Thermoforming Microalgae

Thermoforming Microalgae thermoformed packaging Microalgae are used in products for food, animal health, human health, etc., and also for tertiary wastewater treatment where the biomass produced can be valorized. Success stories are accumulating on their production in cohabitation with agri-food or industrial plants whose wastewater is used as a source of nutrients for their cultivation while the algae-based products can be consumed on-site or locally. The cohabitation approach allows for a steady supply of cheap nutrients (wastewater, potentially mixed with other cheap local nutrient sources) as well as energy (waste heat from the plants), which contributes to the profitability of the microalgal biomass products produced. This strategy of cohabitation and valorization of co-products on-site or locally fits harmoniously with the concept of circular economy in a given territory. It is in this perspective that Simon Barnabé’s team from the University of Quebec in Trois-Rivières (UQTR) (Quebec, Canada) and his collaborators (Innofibre, Oléotek) had started the VERTECH project in 2014 in Victoriaville in the Fidèle-Édouard-Alain Industrial Park. Wastewater from the Parmalat Victoriaville and Canlac Group – Abbott Laboratories plants and from the Sani-Marc plant, available in this industrial park, was mixed and used as a culture medium to produce a lipid-rich microalgae biomass. Shortchain C12:0 and C14:0 fatty acids were then extracted and chemically converted into amine oxides for Sani-Marc’s industrial cleaning product formulations. The postextraction biomass could be converted thermochemically into biofuels for the heavy vehicle fleets of the City of Victoriaville and Gaudreau Environnement. At the end of the project, it was demonstrated that it was possible to produce microalgae in the wastewater of the Victoriaville industrial park (Bélanger-Lépine et al., 2018, 2019), but the low extraction and chemical conversion yields of C12:0 and C14:0 resulted in significant costs that did not justify the continuation of the project. At the same time, the team at Innofibre, the college centre for technology transfer of the Cégep de Trois-Rivières, succeeded in incorporating algal biomass into a thermoformed cellulose fibre pulp as part of the activities of its NSERC College Industrial Research Chair in Eco-design for a Circular Economy of Thermoformed Cellulose Pulp Packaging EcoPACT. Indeed, thermoformed cellulose fibre ecoproducts are a way to replace plastic containers in a circular economy perspective, for example, thermoformed pulp bottles are currently being developed by the EcoPACT Chair for the packaging of solid or liquid products marketed by Sani- Marc. In order to find a product that can make the production of microalgae in the wastewater of the Victoriaville industrial park profitable, the Municipal Research Chair for Sustainable Cities of the UQTR and the EcoPACT Chair of Innofibre are working in synergy to explore the circular economy scenario of using microalgae, cultivated in Sani- Marc’s wastewater, in the recipe of cellulose pulp. This recovery pathway does not require extraction steps and thus could contribute to the profitability of the process. The development of thermoformed cellulosic fibre products to replace plastic containers is an avenue in which many companies around the world wish to position themselves. However, the manufacturing processes for these types of containers still need to be optimized. In Quebec, Innofibre has this know-how and is the only college centre for technology transfer to have a pilot machine for manufacturing thermoformed fibre products on a semiindustrial scale (45 kg/h) for the development of innovative products and the advancement of fibre thermoforming technology. It features: • A heating and recirculation system for the fibrous suspension • A server-controlled rotary head moulding system with vacuum system • A server-controlled y-axis and z-axis adjustable transfer system with suction and blowing • An adjustable multi-area heating system for thermoforming moulds • A server-controlled multiposition z-axis thermoforming system with vapour suction The Innofibre team is currently working in collaboration with Sani Marc to develop environmentally friendly thermoformed cellulose and microalgae packaging for their products. AT | (Photos courtesy: Innofibre) 26 bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/21] Vol. 16

Chitosan keeps strawberries fresh Films made of shellfish shells, essential oils, and nanoparticles protect fruit from microbes Thermoforming Québec produces more strawberries than any other Canadian province. Strawberries are delicate and difficult to keep fresh. In response to this challenge, Monique Lacroix, a professor at the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), and her team have developed a packaging film that can keep strawberries fresh for up to 12 days. The team’s findings on how this film protects against mould and certain pathogenic bacteria have been published in Food Hydrocolloids [1]. The innovative film is made of chitosan, a natural molecule found in shellfish shells. This food industry byproduct contains key antifungal properties that curb mould growth. The packaging film also contains essential oils and nanoparticles, both of which possess antimicrobial properties. “Essential oil vapours protect strawberries. And if the film comes into contact with strawberries, the chitosan and nanoparticles prevent mould and pathogens from reaching the fruit’s surface,” Monique Lacroix, said. Versatile protection The formula developed for this packaging film has the added advantage of being effective against several types of pathogens. The team tested the film on four microbial cultures. “Our work has shown the film’s effectiveness against Aspergillus niger, a highly resistant mould that causes substantial losses during strawberry production,” said Lacroix. This type of bioactive packaging also showed antimicrobial efficacy against the pathogens Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella Typhimurium, which come from contamination during food handling and are a major source of concern for the food industry. Benefits of irradiation Monique Lacroix and her team also combined the packaging film with an irradiation process. When the packaging film was exposed to radiation, team members noted longer shelf life, cutting the level of loss in half compared to the control (without film or irradiation). On day 12, the team recorded a 55 % loss rate for the control group of strawberries, 38 % for the group with the film, and 25 % when irradiation was added. Irradiation not only extended shelf life, but it also helped preserve or increased the quantity of polyphenols in the strawberries. These molecules give strawberries their colour and have antioxidant properties. MT [1] Shankar, S.; Khodaei, D.; Lacroix, M.: Effect of chitosan/essential oils/ silver nanoparticles composite films packaging and gamma irradiation on shelf life of strawberries, Colour up your biopolymers! Colours also available for home-compostable products Bio-based, home-compostable bioplastics in the latest trend colours? Learn more! LIFOtrend web seminar: Colour up your biopolymers! Information and registration: bioplastics MAGAZINE [04/21] Vol. 16 27

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