090127: Method to Improve Membrane Structures in Active Packaging Systems


Active packaging systems are desirable for specialized applications in the packaging of foods, chemicals, and medicines. Active packaging refers to the way materials embedded in the packaging membrane interact with the product to improve its shelf life, quality, and safety. Materials such as zeolite, alumina, and silica have been previously added to polymeric membranes to enhance performance properties for these active packaging applications. To further advance capabilities and to move beyond the limitations of those materials, Metallic Organic Framework (MOFs) materials have been formulated with polymers for packaging applications. These compounds, which are crystalline structures with metal ions complexed with organic molecules, have significantly more surface area than the former materials and significantly enhance several performance capabilities for active packaging.


Michigan State University’s invention provides polymer-based, multifunctional membranes containing performance enhancing Metallic Organic Frameworks (MOF) materials. The polymer/MOF complexes confer improved absorbance, elongation at break, and toughness upon the membrane structures for active packaging applications. Poly(lactic) acid (PLA) has been used as a model to demonstrate proof of concept, but other polymers commonly used for packaging applications can be employed.



* Significantly increased performance capabilities: In comparison to materials like alumina and zeolite, MOFs provide more surface area, which significantly increases absorbance of gases and volatile organic compounds. Additionally, experimental data show improved toughness and elongation at break.

* Formulation versatility: The process enables the use of a wide range of polymers that are currently used for packaging applications.

* Enables bio-based (PLA) membrane structures with improved performance characteristics: The PLA/MOF membranes exhibited twice the absorbance of “neat” PLA, which could increase the use of PLA for applications where high performance is needed.



* Membranes derived from this invention are ideal for applications where the absorbance of gases and VOCs are beneficial for extending the shelf life and quality foods, chemicals, and medicines.

* Useful in active packaging applications for foods, chemicals, and medicines.

* The invention can be used for bioremediation applications.


IP Protection Status

Patent pending



Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University - Test