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Sustainable plastics research in Norwegian EU project no. 1 000

“Norwegian researchers have taken part in more than 1 000 EU-funded projects thus far,” says Simen Ensby, Director of the International Office at the Research Council of Norway. A non-EU country, Norway is nonetheless a full-fledged member of the EU...

“Norwegian researchers have taken part in more than 1 000 EU-funded projects thus far,” says Simen Ensby, Director of the International Office at the Research Council of Norway. A non-EU country, Norway is nonetheless a full-fledged member of the EU Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development. Norwegian research activity will continue under the Eighth Framework Programme now being established.

Norwegian research groups assume a leadership role and are attractive partners for other European research groups, says Simen Ensby, Director of the International Office at the Research Council of Norway. (Photo: Andreas B. Johansen)“We are seeing more and more Norwegian research groups take the initiative in an EU context. They are assuming a leadership role and are attractive partners for other European research groups,” Dr Ensby continues.

Norwegian research on environment-friendly plastics

In Norwegian EU project no. 1 000, entitled NanoBarrier, Norwegian researchers are teaming up with colleagues from 14 other countries to develop biodegradable plastic packaging.

“We plan to use nanofibres from trees to develop new and better packaging solutions,” explains Bjørn Steinar Tanem, a section manager at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. Dr Tanem is the driving force behind the NanoBarrier project.

The project will start up in March 2012 and run for four years. The project manager is Åge Larsen, a senior researcher at the SINTEF Group in Trondheim.

“The use of bioplastics may help to promote sustainable development. The overall objective is to create materials and packaging that are climate neutral,” says Dr Larsen.

Improved food safety with nanotechnology

The researchers will employ nanotechnology to modify and improve existing types of bioplastics. The aim is to devise bio-based solutions whose properties are just as good as traditional plastics, which are based on fossil carbon.

An objective of the EU is that the European population will eat healthier food, such as more fish and seafood. Packaging that extends the freshness of food may help more people to choose healthier alternatives while reducing the amount of food waste.

Project manager Åge Larsen of Sintef and Bjørn Steinar Tanem of NTNU. (Photo: Perduco)

The new packaging will contain integrated sensors that provide information about the condition of the food.

“We can use sensors to measure the temperatures that food is exposed to or find out whether food is about to spoil,” explains Dr Larsen.

“The NanoBarrier project is distinctive with respect to its profile, values and make-up due to its original use of new materials. Research on new materials solutions is vital from the perspective of society and development,” says Dr Ensby.

About the NanoBarrier project

The project has been granted funding under the EU Seventh Framework Programme.

The project has 15 participants from the university sector and industry, including the packaging manufacturers Argo (Greece), Logoplaste (Portugal) and Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolag SCA (Sweden) and the biorefinery Borregaard (Norway).

Total budget: EUR 9.9 million, of which EU funding comprises EUR 7.2 million.