Nanotechnology in Food Packaging
The use of nanomaterials in food packaging is already a reality. For example, bottles made with nanocomposites minimize the leakage of carbon dioxide out of the bottle, increasing the shelf life of carbonated beverages without using heavier glass bottles or more expensive cans.
Honeywell produces a resin called Aegis that is used to make plastic beer bottles. Clay particles, about a nanometer thick, are dispersed throughout the plastic resin so that there is no straight path for carbon dioxide molecules to use to flow out of the bottle, thus keeping beverages fresh longer.
Another example of nanoclays used in food containers is from a company called InMat. They use nanoclay platelets about a nanometer thick in a solution called Nanolok that can be applied to plastic films to prevent oxygen and water from penetrating the container, thereby increasing the shelf life of food. Nanolok is used mainly with dry food such as snacks, nuts, and coffee.
Several companies have produced food storage bins that include silver nanoparticles embedded in the plastic. The silver nanoparticles kill bacteria from any food previously stored in the bins, minimizing harmful bacteria.
Other nano food packaging products are currently under development. For example, research is being conducted on nanosensors in plastic packaging that can detect gases given off by food when it spoils and then change the packaging color. Researchers at various universities have tackled this idea, but no product has yet hit the shelves of your local grocery store.