WheyLayer® – Barrier layers based on whey protein

RESEARCH PROJECT

Demand

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  • Barrier materials based on renewable raw materials as a replacement for EVOH

  • Utilization of a residual (waste) material: whey protein

Result

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  • OTR: Q100 = 1-2 [cm³(STP)/(m² d bar)]

  • Substitution of EVOH by a thermoformable whey protein layer

  • Competitive price to EVOH: 7-10 €/kg for WheyLayer® formulation

Benefits

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  • Sustainable alternative to EVOH

  • Suitable for industrial plants

  • Introduced into the marketplace by LAJOVIC TUBA embalaža d.o.o.

Whey proteins prolong the shelf life of natural antimicrobial ingredients

Wheylayer® and Whylayer2 were joint European projects involving partners from several EU countries. The partners included packaging manufacturers, industrial associations, research organizations, dairy companies, and plastic recycling companies.

The goal was to develop an economical manufacturing process for a packaging material which utilizes the excellent barrier properties of whey protein films to oxygen and moisture. This will allow the polymer films that are currently used in packaging to be replaced by this natural product. Furthermore, the antimicrobial substances that are present in whey should allow the shelf-lives of food products to be prolonged.

Improved barrier properties through the use of whey proteins

The role of the Fraunhofer IVV is to optimize the barrier properties through the development of modified whey proteins and innovative whey protein formulations

The optimized barrier properties should mean that there is no longer a need to coat conventional packaging substrates with synthetic polymers. This will reduce CO2 emissions and will also lower the consumption of resources for packaging production.

Whey proteins as a bio-based alternative to EVOH or PVDC

Biopolymer coatings based on whey protein for plastic films, which replace currently used synthetic barrier films such as EVOH or PVDC, are enzymatically degradable. The Wheylayer®-based multilayer films are thus easily recyclable. A patent application was filed for the coating process. A prototype of a Wheylayer® coating plant was built that reached semi-industrial production speed while maintaining high-quality barrier properties. Since these are far superior to those of other biopolymers and, in addition, the demand for recycable packaging is growing steadily, the developed film Wheylayer® shows great potential as a sustainable packaging material.

Successful launch of films with barrier layers based on whey protein

The technology developed by the Fraunhofer IVV for the production of films with barrier layers based on whey protein can be implemented on conventional industrial plants. The company LAJOVIC TUBA embalaža d.o.o. has already launched successfully the film on the market.