Combining asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation with light-scattering and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometric detection for characterization of nanoclay used in biopolymer nanocomposites

Bjørn Schmidt, Jens Højslev Petersen, C. Bender Koch, David Plackett, Nini Rygaard Johansen, Vimal Katiyar, Erik Huusfeldt Larsen

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It is expected that biopolymers obtained from renewable resources will in due course become fully competitive with fossil fuel-derived plastics as food-packaging materials. In this context, biopolymer nanocomposites are a field of emerging interest since such materials can exhibit improved mechanical and barrier properties and be more suitable for a wider range of food-packaging applications. Natural or synthetic clay nanofillers are being investigated for this purpose in a project called NanoPack funded by the Danish Strategic Research Council. In order to detect and characterize the size of clay nanoparticulates, an analytical system combining asymmetrical flow field-flow fractionation (AF4) with multi-angle light-scattering detection (MALS) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is presented. In a migration study, we tested a biopolymer nanocomposite consisting of polylactide (PLA) with 5% Cloisite®30B (a derivatized montmorillonite clay) as a filler. Based on AF4-MALS analyses, we found that particles ranging from 50 to 800 nm in radius indeed migrated into the 95% ethanol used as a food simulant. The full hyphenated AF4-MALS-ICP-MS system showed, however, that none of the characteristic clay minerals was detectable, and it is concluded that clay nanoparticles were absent in the migrate. Finally, by means of centrifugation experiments, a platelet aspect ratio of 320 was calculated for montmorillonite clay using AF4-MALS for platelet size measurements.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Additives and Contaminants Part A
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)1619-1627
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Biopolymers
  • Solar energy

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