Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Irish scientists toast beer breakthrough

Trinity College Dublin scientists have come up with a way to extend the shelf-life of beer in plastic bottles.

Existing plastic bottles have a relatively short shelf life because they let the air in and the bubbles out -- meaning plastic-bottled beer left on the shelf too long would quickly lose its taste and fizz.

But the Trinity scientists have developed a material which, when added to plastic bottles, will encapsulate that all-important flavour sensation for much longer.

It's all thanks to nanoscience that allowed the creation of the super-light material that keeps the oxygen out and the carbon dioxide in.

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

The breakthrough has led to a partnership with one of the world's largest brewing companies, SABMiller.

The cutting-edge research was conducted by Professor Jonathan Coleman and his team at CRANN, the Science Foundation Ireland nanoscience institute at TCD.

SABmiller has pledged an investment supporting the research for the next two years.

Nanotechnology is the science of things measured in the nanoscale -- a nanometre is 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

The TCD team uses nano-sheets of the chemical compound boron nitride, each about 50,000 times thinner than one human hair.

When mixed with plastic, these nano-sheets result in a material that is extremely impervious to gas molecules.

Dr Diarmuid O'Brien, executive director at CRANN said: "Companies worldwide, like SABMiller, are taking notice. We are delighted to partner on this exciting project and look forward to its results."

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