Belgian-German project aims to establish the impact of heat processing on peelable seals

The CORNET project ‘Optimal peelable seals in packaging concepts undergoing thermal processing’, or ‘Thermopeel’, involves Belgian partners University of Hasselt (UHasselt) Packaging Technology Centre, the Catholic University of Leuven (KU Leuven) and, from Germany, the Fraunhofer IVV institute in Dresden.
In an abstract, the researchers explain that consumer demand for convenient food packaging has led to increased use of easy-open seals. This in turn has inspired the development of new sealants. “However, to the best of our knowledge, research into the post-seal quality during and after thermal treatments has not been investigated thoroughly,” says Roos Peeters of UHasselt.
The project, which started this year, aims to answer specific questions, including the choice of packaging materials in relation to a given target consumer peel-force and defined thermal treatment requirements. Variables being investigated include sealing parameters (time, temperature and pressure) as well as temperature gradients at the heat process stage.
The focus will be on trays and pouches, with experimental results being used to develop an optimization model involving a limited number of tests to predict peel behavior.
“A best-practice guide will tell a producer which packaging material to use, how to seal it, and will define limits on thermal gradients the package will be able to resist,” says Peeters.