Course aims to prompt nanotechnology innovation

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food processing, Food

Awareness of current and upcoming developments in the use of nanotechnical tools for foods and packaging can inspire new understanding and ideas in decision makers working in the food processing and packaging sectors, claims Lund University.

A three day course at the Swedish university entitled ‘Nanotechnology in Food Processing, Packaging and Safety’, scheduled for this autumn, is targeted at R&D engineers and product developers.

Mirka Fahlander, course coordinator, told FoodProductionDaily.com that the course was initiated last year, with demand then outstripping available places.

Consultation

She said participants will be given the opportunity to discuss specific ideas with experts from various fields including lecturers form the Food Technology, Physical Chemistry and Applied Biochemistry Department at Lund University and the Nanometre Structure Consortium, the Swedish centre for nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The programme, which runs from 29 September to 1 October 2009 and costs SEK 13.850 (€1,202,50) per participant, will also involve presentations from experts based at the Unilever research centre in Holland and the Stockholm-based STFI-Packforsk, a leading R&D group in the packaging field, continued Fahlander.

“A broad and a practically oriented course has been put forward to meet the needs from industries to gain knowledge and understanding about current research going on in this expansive field,”​ she said.

Applications covered

Nanotechnology uses tiny particles, measuring one billionth of a metre. A human hair is 80,000 nanometres (nm) wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a water molecule 0.3 nm wide.

Fahlander explained that the content will focus on a broad range of applications for the technology in foods and packaging including nanosensors, nanostructured films, nanoparticles in polymers and barriers as well as nanofiltration, nanodispersions and nanoemulsions.

The risks associated with nanoparticles will also be reviewed, she added.

The Department of Food Technology at Lund University claims that one of its key areas of research is the development, characterisation and applications of nanostructures, both in processing of foods and additives as well as of functional or bioactive ingredients and additives in foods.

It said that it strives to minimize the gap between basic research and applied research, and long-standing collaboration with the food industry ensures that the department’s research findings can rapidly be implemented in new processes, techniques or products.

Market expectations

Estimates of the future market for nanotechnology range from €750bn to €2,000bn by 2015 according to the European Commission, with predictions for the number of new jobs created by the industry standing at around 10 million.

In the packaging industry, the use of nanoparticles is at a more advanced stage than it is in food production.

In the form of composite films, wafer-thin nano coatings of aluminium, for example, or aluminium oxide protect snacks or chocolate bars packed in them from oxygen, water vapour and flavour substances. Nanoparticles are also used in polyethylene terephthalate PET bottles, to improve the blocking properties of bottles against oxygen in particular.

Further information about the Lund University course can be attained by emailing mirka.fahlander 'at' education.lu.se

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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