Illustration text: Per Emilsson compares barrier tests. On the far left an example can be seen completely without red penetration, indicating a tight barrier.
The coating of cardboard with fossil free barriers for the food industry has long been a hard nut to crack. So far no one has succeeded on an industrial scale without the occurrence of pores in the barrier, making packaging less tight and therefore unusable. However, after a week-long pilot run it appears that UMV Coating Systems in Säffle, Sweden, is well on the way to solving this global problem.
– It looks promising, but we don’t wish to come to any conclusions before all the analyses are completed, says Per Emilsson, sales manager at the company.
UMV Coating Systems was awarded funds by Vinnova, The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, in the spring to carry out pilot tests with its newly developed INVO Coater. Introductory analysis work carried out at the University of Karlstad has provided promising results. A study on a larger scale is now pending to determine whether the concept is suitable for coating fossil free barriers in full-scale.
Last week the company carried out 35 trial runs in its own machine in Säffle. Two researchers from the University of Karlstad were on site to analyse the results.
– We are testing how good the barriers are, and things look very promising. In the near future we will be carrying out a whole battery of tests to determine the different characteristics of the barrier. We will be checking resistance to grease, oxygen permeability and lots of other things. All in accordance with established standard methods for testing of barriers in food packing. There are still many analyses to be made, but so far we have seen only positive results, explains Pia Eriksson, development technician at the University of Karlstad.
According to Per Emilsson the cooperation with the University of Karlstad is working perfectly and the final results of the analyses are expected in December. If the barrier is shown to be fully acceptable it can mean that it will be possible to manufacture completely fossil free and biodegradable food packaging conversant with future environment legislation.
Secret concept and newly developed machines
The company will not yet disclose exactly how UMV’s concept works. However, one key factor has been the newly developed INVO Coater and the dosing element INVO Tip, both of which have a number of patented key characteristics. In comparison with competing techniques the coater applies and doses the barrier medium at the same time, ensuring a coating only on the surface, where the barrier provides the greatest effect. And thanks to the dosing element using a soft point that follows every small variation in the structure of the paper it can achieve very thin and even layers, which is a prerequisite for achieving sufficiently quick drying. During the test run the barrier was applied at the rate of 400 metres per minute.
– We applied layers at a thickness of down to 6 micron (thousandths of a millimetre) in wet condition. When dry the thickness is only one to two micron. Such thin coatings result in energy-saving in drying and furthermore make it possible to reduce the amount of coating material by 15 to 30 percent, explains Per Emilsson.
Support from Paper Province
Paper Province has supported UMV Coating Systems in applying for funding from Vinnova to implement the pilot tests. The University of Karlstad has been of assistance in measuring and in producing reference material on a laboratory scale. BillerudKorsnäs participates with technical advice and material.
– If this project is a success it will make us even less dependent on fossil raw materials. We will continue to support UMV Coating Systems in the development of this technique in all the ways we can, says Maria Hollander, managing director of the forest industry cluster Paper Province.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT
Per Emilsson, sales manager UMV Coating Systems, telephone +46 70 670 56 95
Paper Province is a world class forest industry cluster owned and managed by around 100 member companies in Värmland, Sweden. Paper Province have a national assignment by Vinnova, The Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems, to develop a regional bio economy using the forest as raw material.