In July 2009 the University of Parma approved the foundation of the Interdepartmental Center for Packaging “CIPACK”, starting from an idea of Roberto Rizzo (Professor of Industrial Mechanical Systems) and Angelo Montenero (Professor of General and Inorganic chemistry). This laboratory was born with a precise goal: promoting and coordinating basic and applied research concerning the packaging and bottling field, particularly in pharmaceutical and food applications. Aware of the value of knowledge, the Center provides the skills of the academic world to enterprises, in the certainty that the advancement of technology is good for everyone. The Center is constituted by 56 between professors and researchers of the Ateneum, 2 researchers, and 9 research fellows fully dedicated to the Center, 14 instruments conferred, and 30 new software and equipment.
AREAS OF RESEARCH
The aim of CIPACK is the promotion of technology transfer between the university and industry, to support the food and pharmaceutical industries and to promote international collaborations. For this reason, the 7 Departments related to the Center carry out different research activities:
Innovative materials for packaging: studies and tests are performed inside Cipack to improve the behavior of both classical and innovative plastic materials (such as the so-called biopolymers) in terms of reduction of gas permeability and light transmission, thanks to superficial treatments, new forms of active and intelligent packaging which could, for example, give a controlled release of antimicrobials or ensure a good water vapor barrier. As for cardboard and wood, coatings have been developed to confer hydrophobicity and avoid the wetting of materials without utilizing polyolefins. Currently we are working with a natural coating to obtain grease/MOH barrier on recycled paper. Finally new analysis methods are developed to verify the possible migration of substances from the pack to the product.
Quality and hygiene of packaging: the influence of the material and of the packaging technology on food shelf life is assessed along with the maintenance of the high sensory quality of the product. The risk of development of pathogenic microorganisms in food and pharmaceutical packs is assessed. For Quality and hygiene of packaging, Cipack utilizes an instrument projected by the department of chemistry: an artificial olfactory system.
This instrument is composed of a sensor array and of a data treatment software, able to characterize and recognize simple and complex odors. This technology does not identify the single odor components and their relative quantities, but it gives a complete analysis, operating in a similar way to the human olfactive system. It's able to control and analyze the alteration of food and packs.
Advanced systems for food and pharmaceutical packaging: the Center offers full consultancy in the field of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation of processes and in discrete event simulation for handling systems. The main advantages of the simulation approach to fluid dynamics and logistic problems consist in the reduction of experimental tests and in the opportunity to know the features and inefficiencies of a process before the installation of the equipment. These services are applicable to mechanical/food and management/logistics areas.
Environmental impact of packaging: The environmental impact of packaging is assessed by using LCA analysis of the supply chain, packaging, and product. LCA enables to assess the environmental performance of products and it’s a necessary tool to achieve environmental certification and eco-label policies for green marketing. Studies are performed on bio and eco-materials and on the necessary techniques for their treatment.
Services offered: The experience of CIPACK teachers and researchers can be used not only as to the activities of research projects but also to require analyses or specific studies in which undergraduate and graduate students can take part. Thanks to conferred and new instrumentation and to the different software available in the various Departments, of the Center offers: Engineering and environmental impact • LCA Analysis of supply chain, product and packaging • Optimization of multi-objective processes • Discrete event simulation: - handling systems of packaging - design of supply chain • Fluid dynamics simulation of processes for - design of the components - packaging plants optimization • Design of lean manufacturing systems Materials and packaging testing • Study of the interaction between MAP and packaging and between MAP and product • Measures of permeability to oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour • DSC analysis (phase transitions of polymers) •TGA analysis (thermal decomposition of compounds) • Measure of the contact angle (hydrophilic/hydrophobic surfaces) • Measures of mechanical strength and adhesion between plastic films (dynamometer) • Measurements of slipping (clutch) (dynamometer) • Inks dissemination and set-off • New materials for food packaging industry • Micro-Raman spectroscopy Quality and hygiene of packaging • Global and specific migrations* • Specific migrations in Tenax* • Gas chromatographic determination of residual solvents* • Sensory evaluation for taste transmission • Analysis of odorous impression (Artificial Olfactory System) • Olfactory sensory evaluation (flask method) • Screening analysis by GC/MS* • Analyses with IR spectroscopy and UV-Vis spectroscopy* • Determination of the content of mineral oil • Determination and specialization of metals* • Evaluation of changes in metal species in food as a function of technological processes* • Detection of pack contamination of packaging materials: micro-organisms and virus * with instrumentation available at the Department of Chemistry GIAF-University of Parma
ASTER - the Consortium for Innovation and Technology Transfer in Emilia-Romagna (Italy)