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Experimental and Mathematical Assessment of Migration from Multilayer Food Packaging Containing a Novel Clay/Polymer Nanocomposite

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A novel clay/polymer composite film was prepared by applying a modified clay polymer suspension containing montmorillonite nanoparticles onto bi-axially oriented polypropylene films to form three-layer barrier film via lamination. The suitability of the film to be used as a food contact material was assessed with a focus on two-side migration into specified food simulants (water, 3 % acetic acid, 15 % ethanol, olive oil, grapeseed oil and coconut oil) under three different temperatures. It was found that migration levels increased with increasing contact time and temperature. Among the aqueous food simulants tested, the 3 % acetic acid solution demonstrated the highest migration levels, while the water was the least efficient migrating medium. Migration into fatty simulants was observed to be greater than those into aqueous solutions, but independent of their fatty acid composition. The results provided adequate guarantees for the developed film to be applied for food packaging materials. A numerical model based on Fick’s diffusion theory was developed to predict the extent of migration from the multilayer film at any time of exposure in aqueous simulants. Measurements of migration were combined with computer simulations to yield reliable estimates of the diffusion and partition coefficients in the system, which showed an Arrhenius behaviour. The model was solved using a finite element method, and the predicted results and experimental data agreed very well, indicating the rate-controlling steps of diffusion within the polymer in the migration process.

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A :

Contact area of migration, m2

a :

Constant in Eq. 11, −

C :

Concentration of silicon, kg m−3

C 0 :

Initial concentration of silicon in nanocomposite, kg m−3

D :

Diffusion coefficient of silicon, m2 s−1

D 0 :

Theoretical maximum diffusion coefficient, m2 s−1

E a :

Activation energy, J mol−1

H :

Enthalpy of sorption, J mol−1

K :

Partition coefficient of silicon, −

L :

Layer thickness, m

R :

Universal gas constant, J mol−1 K−1

T :

Absolute temperature, K

t :

Migration time, h

V :

Volume, m3

x :

Distance from centre of film along direction of diffusion, m


Deionised water


3 % w/v acetic acid solution


15 % v/v ethanol solution


Equilibrium state




Nanocomposite (core) layer


Half-thickness of nanocomposite layer


Nanocomposite-PP interface


PP layer


PP-water interface


PP-3 % acetic acid interface


PP-15 % ethanol interface


PP-simulant interface


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This research was funded by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore grant SERC 112-117-0038.

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Correspondence to W. Zhou.

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Huang, JY., Chieng, Y.Y., Li, X. et al. Experimental and Mathematical Assessment of Migration from Multilayer Food Packaging Containing a Novel Clay/Polymer Nanocomposite. Food Bioprocess Technol 8, 382–393 (2015).

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