In addition to its growing use in kitchens all around the world and as a bacterial culture medium for its many beneficial properties, the versatility of this hydrocolloid has once again surprised us with a new application.
Several companies have explored the potential of agar in the packaging sector, using it as a source of bioplastics, with the advantage of being an environmentally friendly alternative. Among them, we discovered the project of a Japanese research group, ‘Agar plasticity, a potential usefulness of agar for packaging and more’, which involved the use of agar powder to create a new material that protects raw materials and promotes a more sustainable and efficient development of the natural resources.
The team studied three experimental materials: pure agar in powder form, in powder form mixed with flake ash, and in powder form mixed with red algae-derived fibers.
They used the pure powder to form thin, transparent films, a loose fill pad and a cushioned package.
When combined with shell ash and water, a moldable substance is obtained, which can even be used industrially.
In combination with the fibers, a composition of varying stiffness and thickness is obtained, which can accommodate a wide variety of uses, from the manufacture of packaging boxes to quilted wrappings.
Besides, agar is a biodegradable hydrocolloid, so it can end its life in oceans or landfills.