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NANOPACK - Experimental Production of nanobased antibacterial food packaging


The purpose of this project is to develop an industrial manufacturing of a new type of packaging for food products, containing natural nanotubes of aluminum silicate (halloysite nanotubes) modified with already approved natural essential oils that neutralize microorganisms.

At the same time the project will identify, if the production and use of this new packaging may have harmful effects on humans during

  • production of the antimicrobial halloysite nanotubes
  • incorporation of the antimicrobial halloysite polymers in the packaging material
  • packaging of food in the new packaging material.
Halloysite nanotubes
Halloysite nanotubes are hollow tubes with a diameter of 50-150 nanometers. They are naturally formed from a naturally occurring clay mineral consisting of aluminum, silicon and hydrogen. 


Pathogenic microorganisms on surfaces of food can cause food poisoning and infections. Worldwide, pathogenic microorganisms are responsible for more deaths than any other cause, and the problem is growing partly because more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics.

It is therefore important to reduce the risk of getting into contact with pathogenic microorganisms and find alternatives to antibiotics.

One option may be to use nanotechnology to develop surfaces with antimicrobial effects. This may be relevant in relation to e.g. water treatment and hospital equipment but also relative to food safety.

Therefore European researchers aim to develop a food packaging material with an anti-microbial surface that can protect food against microorganisms and thus extend the shelf life of the food. The cornerstone of the package is naturally occurring halloysite nanotubes, which is loaded with natural bioactive compounds (essential oils) that are harmless to humans, but which break down  and inhibit growth of undesirable microorganisms.

If successful, the project outcomes could help for instance:

  • reducing the need to add preservatives to foods
  • reducing the risk of humans being infected by bacteria from food
  • reducing food waste by extending the shelf life of foods.


In this project the role of the National Research Centre for the Working Environment (NRCWE) in Denmark is to ensure that the production and use of the new modified type of halloysite nanotubes in packaging do not pose a problem in the working environment. We do this by studying the toxicology of halloysite nanotubes and performing workplace measurements.

Supported financially by
EU-flaget.  EU Horizon 2020 under grant agreement No 720815

Project period

Project manager
Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel

Contact persons at the NRCWE
Senior Researcher Karin Sørig Hougaard and Professor Ulla Vogel

18 industrial and research institutions from the EU and Israel

Further information
Read more about the project at the project website


Contact: NRCWE web editors

National Research Centre for the Working Environment | Lersø Parkallé 105 | DK-2100 Copenhagen O | Denmark |

Phone +45 3916 5200 | fax +45 3916 5201 | e-mail: | CVR: 15413700 | EAN: 5798000399518

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