Multinational food packaging company Tetra Pak will be exploring the possible future applications of graphene in food and beverage manufacturing as the exclusive representative from the packaging industry at the European Commission Graphene Flagship project.

The company is leading research and development in the packaging industry into how graphene can be used to unlock innovations for food and beverages.

Graphene is a thin, carbon-based material that is around 200 times stronger than steel. It is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and absorbs light in a number of ways.

Tetra Pak will look at how graphene can be used in packaging material innovation such as reducing the carbon footprint of the packaging supply chain. It will also look at how the material can be used in smart packaging, by using ultra-thin graphene sensors that are smaller, lighter and cheaper than traditional sensors and can be integrated into packages as data carriers for producers, retailers and consumers.

The company will also explore if graphene composites can be used in the next generation of equipment to make it lighter and more energy efficient, reducing costs and energy consumption.

Tetra Pak vice-president of equipment engineering Sara De Simoni said: “One of the main drivers in Tetra Pak joining the Graphene Flagship is our ambition for innovation. Our membership puts us at the forefront of cutting-edge disruptive research, working with some of the brightest minds to pioneer the future uses of graphene in the food and beverage industry. We will use our role as the sole representative from the packaging sector to share, collaborate and forge partnerships with those in the flagship for the greater good of our industry.”

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Physicist and Nobel Prize winner Professor Konstantin Novoselov said: “Graphene has the potential to revolutionise a range of processes and industries. Since Graphene’s first isolation in 2004, we have seen tremendous success and marketplace application of the material within electronics and automotive industries; I’m looking forward to the next phase of the Graphene Flagship and exploring potential innovations in the packaging industry.”