Friday, 20 October 2017

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Active and Intelligent Packaging

Active and intelligent packaging are two methods often used together to describe packaging. However, not all intelligent packages are active.[3] An active package can recognize the package’s condition, and if the condition goes beyond a set extrema, the package takes corrective measures to adjust the levels. From moisture control to chemical concentration control, active packaging can take many forms. The main advantage of active packaging is the extended shelf life of the product to ensure the product’s safety in transit.

Intelligent packaging is similar in that the package can record the conditions of the package’s contents. This is most commonly done to give the user a history of the package which allows the user to make judgements on the content’s quality.[1] Intelligent packages can record many different parameters, such as shock and temperature. Though the two are related, they are subtly different.

Pictured above is a model of an Envirotainer, which will help to store temperature sensitive packages more safely and effectively

For instance, a package may have an irreversible temperature label that displays the maximum temperature the package experienced up to that point. The label only displays the package’s thermal history. It does nothing to regulate the package’s temperature over time. This makes the package intelligent only.

For the same package to be active, it would need to regulate the temperature somehow. Excess heat can be removed by an external, endothermic reaction.[4] Essentially, the reaction withdraws energy from its surrounding to take place and the only heat source near the reaction is the package contents. This forces the heat to from the product into the reaction vessel which lowers the product’s temperature.

As more research is put into the topic, more effective measures will be developed. As time progresses, the use of such packaging will become regulated and will even eventually become the norm. In due time, the terms active and intelligent packaging will be general terms known to the average consumer.


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