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China finds use for space tech in extending food shelf life
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China finds use for space tech in extending food shelf life
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Apr 12, 2024

The China Academy of Space Technology has repurposed a barrier film originally designed for space stations to enhance food preservation on Earth, illustrating a key application of space research in everyday life.

Researchers at the academy demonstrated the benefits of this new high-barrier film by comparing the freshness of tofu stored in traditional packaging versus their innovative material. After a week, the tofu in the conventional package decayed while the tofu wrapped in the high-barrier film remained fresh.

Cai Yuhong, from the research team, noted that the typical barrier films used in China, such as the silver aluminum-foil found in snack packaging, suffer from drawbacks including opacity and a lack of microwave safety, which renders them non-recyclable. He explained, "The new high-barrier film we developed draws inspiration from space coating technology intended to protect space station cables from atomic oxygen degradation in low-Earth orbit."

Since 2016, the academy has worked on adapting space coating technologies to create these advanced films, overcoming significant technical challenges due to limited reference technologies globally. After years of development, they established China's first production line for these films.

"The film has extremely low water vapor transmission rates, ensuring effective protection against moisture and oxygen, the primary culprits in food spoilage," added Dong Maojin, who leads the product's development. He shared that if a football field were covered by their film, only a thumb-sized amount of water could permeate it daily.

Currently used for high-end foods like caviar and white truffles, the scope of this film's use is expected to expand as costs decrease, providing a sustainable alternative to conventional food preservation methods.

Related Links
China Academy of Space Technology
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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