Small of PE


I was always wondering what chemical is responsible for the typical smell of PE (as in PE bottles)?


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Oliver 'Ojo' Bedford
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So do I. Is it ethene itself? Or some oligomer (hexene, octene)? Is the smell present in the new material, or is it a product of slow breakdown? Harald.

Oliver 'Ojo' Bedford schrieb in im Newsbeitrag:

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Not a simple question! I have done some work involving off-tastes and odors in food and beverages packaged in plastic, and the chemistry is pretty complicated.

In my experience, the compounds most associated with "plastic" tastes or odor are aldehydes, which are oxidation products of polyethylene. Hexanal is a particularly "bad actor."

Other oxidation products of polyethylene, such as low molecular weight carboxylic acids, can also affect taste and odor.

There is also an odor usually attributed to slip agents such as oleamide or erucamide, but I suspect that this is actually due to oxidation products and impurities in the slip, rather than the slip itself.

Another issue is that polyethylene packaging can selectively adsorb certain flavor and odor compounds from a food or beverage product, which may cause other, less desirable tastes or smells naturally present in the product to become more noticible.

All of this is not to say that you shouldn't use polyethylene packaging -- food and beverage products will interact with any container they are placed in, whether it is plastic, metal, or glass. Understanding the nature of the interaction is the key to achieving good results.

Dave Palmer

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Dave Palmer

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