According to statistics, from 30% to 40% of the harvested crop in developed countries does not end up on people's tables, but in a waste container. The University of Sabanci, Turkey, has developed an unusual nanomaterial that aims to solve this problem.
The development is an add-on layer to conventional polyethylene packaging films. It consists of haloisite tubes - nanometer-sized hollow cylinders formed from a natural clay mineral. The shape and chemical properties of this layer make it a multifunctional barrier to substances that affect food spoilage.
Clay nanotubes block the access of oxygen from the outside and prevent moisture from evaporating - as a result, food does not become chapped or dry out. Plus, this microstructure absorbs ethylene, a gas that serves as a growth hormone for many types of vegetables and fruits, forcing them to ripen and rot ahead of time. In addition, the tube cavities can be filled with antibacterial essential oils, which can destroy unnecessary microflora inside the package.
Tomatoes after 6 days of storage: on the left - in a regular film, on the right - in a film of new material
In the course of the experiments, ordinary tomatoes, being wrapped in a new film, retained their freshness and presentation for 10 days. On raw chicken in the package, almost zero growth of microorganisms was recorded in a day, the meat outside the refrigerator did not deteriorate at all. Already ripe, bright yellow bananas did not change their state and did not rot for 6 days. True, while the question of toxicity remains open - how safe the products are after being in such protection, future experiments should show.
At this stage, we are not talking about the development of a commercial version of packaging, the technology is still experimental.