Research group develops biodegradable film that keeps food fresh for longer


a film made of a compound derived from limonene, the main component of citrus fruit peel, and chitosan, a biopolymer derived from the chitin present in exoskeletons of crustaceans.

The film was developed by a research group in São Paulo state, Brazil, comprising scientists in the Department of Materials Engineering and Bioprocesses at the State University of Campinas’s School of Chemical Engineering (FEQ-UNICAMP) and the Packaging Technology Center at the Institute of Food Technology (ITAL) of the São Paulo State Department of Agriculture and Supply, also in Campinas.

The results of the research are reported in an article published in Food Packaging and Shelf Life.


Limonene has been used before in film for food to enhance conservation thanks to its antioxidant and anti-microbial action, but its performance is impaired by volatility and instability during the packaging manufacturing process, even on a laboratory scale.


“The films with the poly(limonene) additive outperformed those with limonene, especially in terms of antioxidant activity, which was about twice as potent,” Vieira said. The substance also performed satisfactorily as an ultraviolet radiation blocker and was found to be non-volatile, making it suitable for large-scale production of packaging, where processing conditions are more severe.

The films are not yet available for use by manufacturers, mainly because chitosan-based plastic is not yet produced on a sufficiently large scale to be competitive, but also because the poly(limonene) production process needs to be optimized to improve yield and to be tested during the manufacturing of commercial packaging.


More information: Sayeny de Ávila Gonçalves et al, Poly(limonene): A novel renewable oligomeric antioxidant and UV-light blocking additive for chitosan-based films, Food Packaging and Shelf Life (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.fpsl.2023.101085

Source: Research group develops biodegradable film that keeps food fresh for longer

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