NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER:05 X12.05-9790
SUBTOPIC TITLE:Advanced Life Support: Food Provisioning and Biomass
PROPOSAL TITLE:Nanomaterials-Based Water and Moisture Impermeable Barrier for Food Packaging

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
2531 West 237th Street, Suite 127
Torrance ,CA 90505 - 5245
(310) 530 - 2011

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Uma   Sampathkumaran
2531 West 237th Street, Suite 127
Torrance, CA  90505 -5245
(310) 530 - 2011

The goal of this project is to develop flexible food packaging materials with an effective barrier against oxygen and moisture. This technology will build on sol-gel core competency of the company, which has been expanded under NASA funding. In this Phase I project, InnoSense LLC (ISL), in collaboration with Professor Melvin Pascall at Ohio State University, will demonstrate the potential of ISL's nanomaterials-based barrier technology in NASA space exploration. The Phase I project would demonstrate: (a) that flexible thin film barrier layers can be deposited onto polymeric substrates and can be adhesively bonded to a polypropylene layer for flexible food packaging applications, (b) achievement of water vapor transmission rate (WVTR) < than 0.001 g/m2-day and oxygen transmission rate (OTR) < than 0.001 cc/m2-day for the flexible thin-film barrier. The focus of Phase II will be optimization of the barrier architecture, and the evaluation of prototype flexible pouches for their mechanical and barrier layer properties after retorting, a process typically used to package reheatable foods in flexible packaging applications. To assure success of this project, ISL has assembled a technical team with a cumulative 60 person-years of experience in specialty coatings, polymers and packaging areas.

For long duration space exploration missions, crew members will find food whose natural characteristics are well preserved more appealing for consumption. Packaging materials that offer an effective barrier against oxygen and moisture for maintaining food quality also offer a secondary benefit ? boosting of the short-term behavior and morale of the crew. Appealing food has a proven effect on physiological factors such as appetite, alertness, relaxation, and cognitive skills. Cognitive skills and alertness are crucial during an extravehicular engineering task. Another area of importance that would be met by the proposed packaging materials is in solid waste management within the spacecraft. Currently waste is collected and stored in bags that act as environmental barriers to prevent the escape of noxious odors into the crew habitat. These issues are addressed by ISL's flexible, nanomaterials-based water and oxygen impermeable barrier technology.

Current consumer trends bode well for companies able to develop packaging materials that keep food natural while tasting good. The overall demand for packaged food items experienced a rise of nearly 14% annually to 3,200 units worldwide in 2003. Simmons Market Research Bureau data show that over half of adults (51%) like the trend toward healthier eating, and this trend?combined with tremendous consumer demand for convenience and the desire for more flavorful foods, including premium and gourmet offerings?is driving foodservice and retail sales across many breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack food categories in many retail and foodservice venues. Other application areas of the ISL technology include conformal barriers for flexible electronics, in particular display applications like OLED market, transparent conducting oxide and electrochromic oxide thin film technologies. Military applications include flexible electronics, hard coatings, electromagnetic shields and anti-static surface layers.

NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.

Airlocks/Environmental Interfaces
Biomass Production and Storage
Biomedical and Life Support
Earth-Supplied Resource Utilization
Energy Storage
General Public Outreach
In-situ Resource Utilization
K-12 Outreach
Multifunctional/Smart Materials
Operations Concepts and Requirements
Optical & Photonic Materials
Photovoltaic Conversion
Portable Life Support
Renewable Energy
Sensor Webs/Distributed Sensors
Sterilization/Pathogen and Microbial Control
Thermal Insulating Materials
Waste Processing and Reclamation

Form Printed on 09-19-05 13:12