Macromolecular non-releasing additives for safer food packaging: application to ethylene/α-olefins and propylene based polymers

Document Type: Original research

Authors

1 Istituto per lo Studio delle Macromolecole (ISMAC-CNR), via E. Bassini 15, 20133 Milano (Italy)

2 Istituto per lo Studio delle Macromolecole (ISMAC-CNR), via De Marini 6, 16149 Genova (Italy)

3 Dipartimento di Chimica ‘Ugo Schiff’, Università di Firenze, via della Lastruccia 13, 50019 Sesto Fiorentino (FI) (Italy)

4 Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences DeFENS, University of Milan, Via Celoria 2, 20133, Milano (Italy)

Abstract

Some innovative solutions are proposed to the problem of the unavoidable physical migration of antioxidants from plastic films for packaging, in order to minimize the consequent undesirable effect of food contamination. In previous exploratory tests, phenolic antioxidant co-units were achieved and incorporated into polyethylene chain and now the work is extended to create new families of polymeric additives properly designed for specific material. An effective route was designed to synthesize the functionalized comonomer, analogues of commercial 2,6-t-butyl-4-methoxy-phenol (BHA), containing eight methylene units as spacer between the aromatic ring and the polymerizable olefinic double bond (C8). Ethylene/1-hexene/C8 terpolymers, with 1-hexene concentration in the typical range found in commercial polyethylene grades, and propylene/C8 copolymers with microstructure similar to those of commercial packaging polypropylenes were produced. A careful 13C NMR study was conducted for the precise determination of the functionalized comonomer content on all terpolymer and copolymer samples. The samples melt blended with additive-free commercial LDPE and PP matrices, individually, were analyzed in terms of thermal and thermo-oxidative stability and compared with LDPE and PP films containing the traditional BHA additive analogue. The results demonstrate that, in either way, the polymeric additives exert a very positive effect on the degradation temperature of the polymeric matrices, retarding the thermo-oxidative sequence of reaction.
 

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Main Subjects


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