If you've paid attention to the additives market through the years, then you've heard of nanoclays, and probably wrote them off as a small-scale niche product about 10 years ago. But a supplier out of Valencia, Spain says its use of different types of clays and its ability to add functionality to the nanoparticles means these additives' best days are still ahead of them.
Presentations on nanoclays were a standard of plastic packaging conferences in the late 1990s. The potential of these materials was heralded especially in the blowmolding industry, where processors heard that nanoclays could be added to PET to create a "torturous path" through which CO2 could not escape and oxygen would not penetrate. But much of the hype focused on one type of nanoclay platelet, MMT (montmorillonite), and some of these never received food-contact approval. As a result of this, and because the cost/benefits weren't powerful enough to push aside more conventional barrier materials, nanoclays have remained a minor niche additive....