Owing to the rising health concerns and the increasing risk of cardiac problems, people across the world have restricted the consumption of oily and fat-loaded foods. A group of researchers has fabricated a degradable polymer layer that can resist the seepage of fatty acids and could lead to new biodegradable, paper-based covering. The researchers employed a traditional yet less renowned free radical polymerization approach for developing the sheet of polymers. The team began an investigation on how to convert this chemistry to an industrial setting after they observed the majority of researchers have started employing this approach with cyclic ketene vinyl and acetal monomers in academics.
The reaction was usually carried out within organic solvents in academia, but the team thought of using water as a “greener” option. This was quite challenging as the stability of cyclic ketene acetal monomers is negligible in water, but the researchers overcame this by adjusting reaction parameters such as temperature, the concentration of monomers, and pH.
The cyclic ketene acetal such as 2-methylene-1,3-dioxepane was mixed with vinyl acetate to generate a polymer having ester bonds in the backbone. The researchers later covered the paper with synthetic latex, which is derived from a hydrophilic emulsion of this polymer. The coating sets a good barrier against grease and oil by splitting the oily elements inside water. The ability of the coating to disperse the fats was inferior at neutral pH but with the rise in pH, its dispersing property improved significantly. The scientists are now assessing the coating’s degradability in industrially relevant settings.
Other scientists and industries have introduced biodegradable foodservice items with natural coatings such as chitosan or whey. These are excellent solutions, but also beget some limitations in terms of maintaining the desired performance at an economical range. The team believes that its newly derived coating seems to be suitable for eventually curbing oils and fats consumption.