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Malt residues as a raw material for packaging

Enlargement of an areogel, showing the sponge-like structure

Swiss researchers have extracted an aerogel from brewer's grains that is said to be suitable for the production of biodegradable packaging.

The "Cellulose and Wood Materials" laboratory at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa) focuses on the production of biodegradable packaging materials from waste products. Researchers there, led by Gustav Nyström, have now produced an aerogel based on nanocellulose from the malt used in beer production - known as spent grains. This can be further processed into food packaging and is biodegradable, according to a press release from Empa. According to the statement, the researchers extracted the nanocellulose fibres from the spent grains of a Swiss brewery and processed them into an aerogel by freeze-drying. The aim was to use the aerogel in particular for packaging temperature-sensitive foods such as meat products. "With our process, we can obtain high-quality materials from a waste product that is available very cheaply and in large quantities and is largely wasted today," explains Empa researcher Gilberto Siqueira, co-author of the study published in the journal "ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering". "This also benefits small companies, which can thus get the most out of the raw materials they already use," says Siqueira.

  • Press release Empa (27.2.2024)
  • Photo: © Empa

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