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Microfibrous media for food packaging.

From agri-terrorism to mad cow disease to beef, poultry and produce recalls, the U.S. food supply and the food processing industries face unprecedented threats and unique new challenges. The need for comprehensive detection, tracking, packaging, containment, mitigation, and targeted disposal has never been greater. The need is great for precise quality assurance and consumer confidence across the entire operating spectrum, from farm to fork. Microfibrous materials technology developed and patented by researchers at Auburn University and licensed to IntraMicron Inc. is especially well-suited to address a number of these newly emerging needs and requirements.

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IntraMicron's core technology is a micron diameter sinter-locked network of conductive metal fibers or food grade polymer fibers that are useful for a variety of high-contacting efficiency and advanced packaging, surveillance, and diagnostic applications. In one application, the highly porous fibrous carrier has been used to entrap a variety of sorbents and biosupports that can be tailored to address a wide spectrum of chemical agents, pathogens and other contaminants. This application has been pioneered and extensively developed within IntraMicron laboratories by the U.S. Department of Defense for chemical/biological agent concentration and removal from clean air streams. As such, this media can be incorporated into a box or other container and is ideally suited for providing an archival record of trace contaminants that the box has encountered over time and during transit.

In combination with low-cost radio frequency identification (RFID) tagging, this media provides detection, tracking, forensic, and diagnostic assessments more rapidly than previously imagined. In a second application, metal fibers are used so that the media can be electrochemically interrogated via anodic super oxygenation to accelerate the rate of biochemical growth and fermentation-based assays. In still another application, rolls of IntraMicron media are laminated/integrated into polyethylene liner board and incorporated into box plant and food packaging operations. This application enables a wide range of new diagnostic, active mitigation and containment possibilities.

IntraMicron has pioneered high-speed manufacturing of microfibrous media. The company produces media in roll or sheet form via a wetlay papermaking process and is capable of manufacturing up to 30,000 sq. feet/day on its current pilot level machine. Higher quantities of media are available via toll manufacturing relationships and strategic partnerships using larger paper and linerboard machines located within the pulp and paper industry. Additionally, IntraMicron and prospective paper industry partners have the capability to rapidly develop packaging prototypes of various kinds and coordinate full-scale production.

For further information, please contact Bruce Tatarchuk (brucet@eng.auburn.edu) or John Stein (jstein@intramicron.com).
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Title Annotation:Four Minute Focus
Publication:Solutions - for People, Processes and Paper
Date:Jul 1, 2004
Words:428
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