The European FLEXPOL project has developed an innovative antibacterial and antifungal plastic film using nanoencapsulated essential oils that it says is more eco-friendly than current hygienization methods.

This plastic film is designed to cover surfaces that are highly exposed to contact with microbes and to prevent surface proliferation of these organisms by keeping them from adhering. Essential oil encapsulation technologies are therefore being used to obtain a product that is easy to apply and remove.

The project’s main challenge was to keep the essential oil nanocapsules intact during film processing because of their low thermal resistance. In this area, one member of the partnership, AIMPLAS, contributed its nanotechnology expertise by developing a method that prevents the nanocapsules from being destroyed during the compounding phase of processing.

As a result of this project, which will be developed in a real hospital environment after the laboratory phase, FLEXPOL says that it will be possible to significantly reduce the use of detergents and antibiotics, thus apparently making nanocapsulation an eco-friendly alternative. The partnership also argues that this method is less expensive than those currently in use.

The FLEXPOL project is funded by the European Commission H2020 programme and is coordinated by Fraunhofer. A total of eleven entities from five countries have participated, namely: AIMPLAS, Naturality S.L., University of Alicante, University Hospital Donostia, IK4-Tekniker and Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) (Spain); Propagroup S.p.A., Softer (Italy); Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT (Germany); 3B’s research laboratory at the University of Minho (Portugal); and Granta Design Ltd. (United Kingdom).