At a special award ceremony held at the ALUMINIUM 2018 exhibition in Düsseldorf, the first ever winner of the Robert V Neher Award, a global academic competition for foil research and development, was announced. Hiroyuki Nishikawa and Yoshiki Hashizume were presented with a cheque for €10,000 for the award-winning work: Development of super water-repellent material TOYAL LOTUS®.
The winning submission detailed the development of a novel aluminium foil lidding material for yogurt packs that eliminates packed products sticking to the inner side of the lid. TOYAL Lotus® uses biomimetic coatings with a water repelling surface structure, which imitates the so-called ‘lotus effect’ and offers adequate heat-sealable properties. The material meets official safety guidelines and can be disposed of without any adherence of food residues.
Speaking after the presentation, Hiroyuki Nishikawa and Yoshiki Hashizume expressed their delight at winning the award: “The ‘lotus effect’ has been discovered and described elsewhere, but its application to improve the performance of sealable foil lids for food products is new. I am honoured that this scientific work had been acknowledged in this outstanding way.”
The Robert V Neher Award is an academic competition involving aluminium foil and closures. It seeks out and rewards the very best innovative packaging and technical applications. Launched in 2017 by the Global Aluminium Foil Roller Initiative (GLAFRI), the award, named in honour of the inventor of the aluminium foil rolling process, invited submissions from students and academia from the packaging and food sectors and technical universities, worldwide.
Six entries from around the globe were submitted and assessed by a jury of five senior industry experts with academic and/or specific industrial backgrounds. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jürgen Hirsch, head of the jury, commented: “The quality and diversity of entries was exceptional. We give our full respect to all works submitted and expect they all will play a role in the further development of foil production, processing, and innovative applications.”
GLAFRI president Göksal Güngör praised the winner and explained GLAFRI’s commitment to furthering the competition: “It is important to identify and reward the talents of future influencers and innovators, not only within our industry, but in academia as well. We hope this competition stimulates and encourages further research and development in this important area for foil producers, users and society in general.”