Irish scientists developing new material to increase shelf life of beer

Sep 18, 2012
Richard Corker, SABMiller and Professor Jonathan Coleman, CRANN, TCD

Scientists at CRANN, the nanoscience institute based at Trinity College Dublin, have partnered with world-leading brewing company SABMiller on a project to increase the shelf life of bottled beer in plastic bottles. The new deal will see SABMiller invest in the project over a two year period. 

Professor Jonathan Coleman and his team in CRANN are using nanoscience research methods to develop a new material that will prolong the of beer in plastic bottles. Current plastic bottles have a relatively short shelf life, as both oxygen and carbon dioxide can permeate the plastic and diminish the flavour.

The new material, when added to will make them extremely impervious, meaning that oxygen cannot enter and that the carbon dioxide cannot escape, thus preserving the taste and 'fizz'.

The team will exfoliate nano-sheets of , each with a thickness of approximately 50,000 times thinner than one . These nano-sheets will be mixed with plastic, which will result in a material that is extremely impervious to . The molecules will be unable to diffuse through the material and shelf life will be increased.

As well as increasing the shelf life of the beer itself, less material is required in production, reducing cost and environmental impact.

Dr. Diarmuid O'Brien, Executive Director, CRANN said, "This partnership with SABMiller highlights the applicability of and its relevance to everyday products. Improving every consumable from our lighting, our cars, our electronic devices, medicines, clothing and food and drink is being researched by nanoscientists worldwide. Ireland is amongst the world leaders in this area, ranked 6th globally for materials science. Because of the work like that of Professor Coleman and his peers, last year CRANN received over €5 million in non-Exchequer funding to progress research projects. Companies worldwide, like SABMiller, are taking notice. We are delighted to partner on this exciting project and look forward to its results."

Professor Coleman's technique which involves the exfoliation of boron nitride, and other layered materials, has been published in Science.

Explore further: Producing biodegradable plastic just got cheaper and greener

More information: Two-Dimensional Nanosheets Produced by Liquid Exfoliation of Layered Materials, Science 4 February 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6017 pp. 568-571 DOI: 10.1126/science.1194975

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User comments : 8

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3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 18, 2012
This is research that warrants vast government subsidies.
5 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
I heard that Trinity College Dublin has a long list of volunteers for the tasting phase of this research project.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 18, 2012
Ah, yes --the (SAB)Miller Brewing Company is on the scene, making certain that you get your dose --and more, no doubt-- of pthalate, bisphenol, PCB, etc with each serving of their fine product.

Yessir --in this newly dawned era of panglobal freimarket capitalism, the consumer is definitely the big winner.

Drink up, boys!

not rated yet Sep 18, 2012
With any luck they'll be able to use the BN as the inner layer of the plastic bottle, keeping the beer out of contact from the plastic. At least for now BN is not known to be toxic or to have any adverse health effects (aside from when it's inhaled as a powder -- not likely if it's on the inside of a bottle). That would take care of Caliban's concerns. Of course I'd want to have extensive testing to show that BN doesn't dissolve in beer and react to form something just as bad as or worse than what you get from typical plastic linings.
3 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
"Irish scientists ... beer!"

There is a joke here somewhere...
3 / 5 (2) Sep 18, 2012
That would take care of Caliban's concerns.

Caliban is just another nervous Norvus who hates civilization and all its benefits. Pay him no heed.
1 / 5 (1) Sep 19, 2012
That would take care of Caliban's concerns.

Caliban is just another nervous Norvus who hates civilization and all its benefits. Pay him no heed.

No way, shooty --it's all about the beer! And it verges on the criminal that beer should ever be stored/transported in anything besides wood or steel vessels, or served out of anything but glass, stone/ceramic, or the odd skull.

Yours would do just fine. Can I have it?

Even using plastic supply hoses is abomination, when rubber is easily available, and many times more durable.

No --all this plastic has no other purpose than to serve the greed of the profit-takers, and is in no way --nor ever shall be--a healthier, safer alternative.

not rated yet Sep 19, 2012
The plastic bigots are drunk, as usual.

These beer-on-nitride materials will allow plastics with less of other fillers and preservers.

What do you call a polymer complex with fillers and preservers that is rapidly quenched? That is right, glass.

We all know why they stopped using lead glass for drinking, or that there is no "rust free" steel but corrosion resistant (with many interesting heavy metal preservers) and that rust is highly poisonous, I hope.

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