1 August 2014

ThermoWhey: Creating new horizons together

ThermoWhey project will develop a new bio-based thermoformable barrier coating

The Kick Off meeting of the project was celebrated end of May in Germany. A research project to develop a new bio-based thermoformable barrier coating solution that can be used in the wide packaging sector, ThermoWhey, was presented in a Kickoff meeting celebrated on May 26-27th in Germany, with the whole consortium and the Manunet contact point for Germany Jens Korell.

This 28 months R&D project funded by EC’s Seventh Framework Programme (under the Manunet programme) will deliver whey protein coating with improved thermoformability independently from storage time while maintaining excellent barrier properties to produce packaging for different food, pharma and cosmetic applications.

There is a growing need and a significant market opportunity for more sustainable packaging solutions. Thermoforming is one of the dominant and growing technologies in the packaging market and although bio-based trays exist on the market for years, they do not meet the barrier properties required for sensitive food products that the Thermowey product will have. Overall, bio-based plastics still represent a niche but, thanks to technical innovations and with a 25% annual growth, have increasing potential to replace their synthetic counterparts. In contrast with certain controversial biopolymers that compete with food resources, ThermoWhey will represent a unique market offering that is derived from agrofood by-product, and that delivers sufficient barrier properties for products packed in modified atmosphere (MAP). The project will develop a complete set up of the manufacturing capacity and optimised process for producing whey powder (WPC), agglomeration process for whey protein based barrier coatings as well as of a coating process for films, and manufacturing of thermoformed packaging (blisters and trays) for pharma and food industries.

The consortium for this project is complementary, combining the expertise of 4 SMEs partners (IRIS coordinator, GEBA, MLANG and SERVIPLAST) and one research institute (FRAUNHOFER) and brings together competences from Spain and Germany.

As it precursor Wheylayer® barrier polymers, ThermoWhey project will have a very positive impact on the environment as it solves multiple challenges: finding new commercial use of currently discarded cheese by-product, replacing petroleum-based plastics with natural biopolymers that allow recycling packaging while safeguarding their performance.

Source: IRIS, press release, 2014-06-18.

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