Fundamental exploration of oxygen scavenging barrier systems
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Recent packaging breakthroughs have demonstrated that placing a small amount of highly efficient oxygen-scavenging material in a rigid glassy polymer (e.g., poly(ethylene terephthalate) [PET]) can markedly increase the oxygen barrier properties of the film, which increases the shelf life of oxygen sensitive food products. Effective oxygen scavenging systems include polybutadiene doped with low levels (e.g., 100 ppm) of a metal salt (e.g., cobalt neodecanoate). The metal catalyzes oxidation of the polymer using oxygen diffusing through the film, thereby sequestering the oxygen and preventing it from reaching the package contents. Commercial development of oxygen scavenging barrier films is underway, but fundamental studies of these systems within the context of packaging are rare. This research investigates the influence of polymer type, catalyst level, and photo illumination conditions on the rate and amount of oxygen uptake by model scavenging systems. A non-invasive headspace analysis method to measure rate and amount of oxygen uptake in oxygen scavenging polymers is also developed.