MFC has been around since the 1980’s, but is only now gaining buzz as a packaging material. MFC, or microfibrillated cellulose, is a material made of a 3D network of cellulose fibres. But what is it? In this blog post, we’ll be talking about everything you need to know about MFC.
What is cellulose?
It’s important to first learn about what cellulose is. Found mainly in plant cells, cellulose is a structural molecule. 33% of all vegetable matter is cellulose, making it widely available through plants! While plants are a source of cellulose for MFC, plant waste can also provide the required cellulose material!
Different uses of the substance range from food thickeners to moisture-proof coatings and adhesives in packaging.
What exactly is microfibrillation?
Cellulose cells exist in a network of fibres that scientists broke down into smaller fibres, called fibrils. In this experiment, their goal was to increase the surface area of the cellulose cells. They achieved this by using a milk homogenizer to tangle the fibres into smaller fibrils, resulting in the creation of MFC.
Microfibrillation refers to the size of the newly-tangled fibres–they are microscopic, hence “micro”! As seen in the image above, the cell network of the micro fibrils is much wider than in regular cellulose fibres, but the fibrils themselves are thinner.
The increased surface area means the material can hold more water and even form a strong gel when there are lower concentrations!
MFC in packaging
Next, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about MFC in packaging applications! Paperboard materials use MFC to increase the structure of the packaging, without any added bulk. Despite its light weight, MFC is a very strong material. It is food safe, and “stronger than steel”, according to Stora Enso.
As an alternative packaging material, MFC can be used like cornstarch or sugarcane packaging. It is biodegradable, and preserves the scent and taste of food. The material is grease-resistant as well, making it a great option for food and takeout packaging!
Overall, MFC helps strengthen and enhance materials. MFC can also help make packaging more efficient by reducing excess weight without compromising structure. Other packaging materials besides paper products could incorporate MFC too! Imagine plastic films or aluminum packaging made using MFC!
Why should your business consider MFC?
To summarize, MFC or microfibrillated cellulose is a plant-based alternative packaging solution. It strengthens other materials, while cutting back on bulk and excess weight.
It’s food safe and grease-resistant, making it a great choice for takeout and food packaging. Since MFC is made from plants, it’s also a renewable and more sustainable packaging alternative!
While LeKAC doesn’t yet offer any MFC-based products, we’re always on the hunt for new and eco-friendly materials! To learn more about our alternative packaging solutions, contact us today!