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Active packaging: functional microcapsules with high mechanical and thermal resistance

INESCOP, AINIA and AIMPLAS are working together in the project INORCAP, which aims at obtaining multifunctional microcapsules with high mechanical and thermal resistance. The project INORCAP is being financed by IVACE (the Valencian Centre of Business Competitiveness) and ERDF Funds and lasts two years.

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Active packaging

The final goal of this project is to microencapsulate flavours and natural extracts with antimicrobial and insect-repellent activity and to demonstrate their antimicrobial functionality. In addition, the functionality of the microcapsules will be validated by extrusion processes of food, plastics and footwear manufacturing.

Microencapsulation is a process by which active substances are introduced into a matrix (microcapsule) through the application of various technologies in order to prevent their loss, protect them from external agents or slow down oxidation reactions. It is also used for the controlled liberation of the contained active substance over the time, such as the controlled release of the gum flavour.

Microencapsulation has a great potential in the industry due to its capability to transform conventional materials into intelligent and multifunctional materials (i.e., footwear or plastic materials) and to enhance food products.

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Industrial footwear processes, plastic extrusion and food production processes require high demands of pressure and heat that in some cases may produce the rupture of microcapsules with the subsequent degradation of the active ingredients incorporated into the material or into the final product; a premature release may also cause the loss of the desired functionality.

Therefore, the R+D of this project is focused principally on going into detail of current microencapsulation technologies, working with different synthesis methodologies in order to  improve the thermal (heat resistance) and the mechanical (pressure resistance) resistance of the developed microcapsules. Within the microcapsules of the project, flavours with antimicrobial and/or insect repellent activity will be incorporated.

The results of this project will help food, packaging, plastic and footwear industries, among others, to improve their current manufacturing processes and the final quality of their products, making them healthier for the consumers.