Seeking Technologies to Improve Hydrophobic Capabilities of Paper

Background / Description

IPI is working with our Open Innovation partner in UK to seek technologies to improve the hydrophobic capabilities of paper.

With an increased use of biodegradable materials in single-use / disposable products and food packaging (including those used for cooking), there is a need for an effective treatment to provide temporary barrier properties which do not affect recyclability or ease of use of paper.

The client is an international group of manufacturing companies that seeks an effective treatment to render paper or cellulose-based materials splash-proof, i.e. to increase the hydrophobic capabilities. This would prevent the detrimental effects of being “splashed” (not complete immersion) with water, especially in thinner paper-based products where excess moisture might affect the structural integrity or performance.

Technical Specifications

The client is considering various technologies, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Surface modification – to stop the water physically impinging upon the surface or reducing/eliminating contact or dwell time on the paper product to a minimum
  • Mechanical treatments (e.g. laser) – to modify the surface tension or contact angle of paper
  • Coatings – natural polymers, waxes, silicone, bitumen, rubber
  • Modification of paper structure – e.g. fibres, impregnation
  • Self-cleaning surfaces
  • Nanotechnology


Potential solutions should:

  • Not affect the handling properties of paper, i.e. its ability to be processed – printing, cutting, folding, etc., or the basic properties when exposed to heat or other processing steps
  • Be safe for human contact, and ideally food safe


Potential solutions could be found from various industries, such as:

  • Printing and packaging industries
  • Hygiene industries
  • Hazardous or protective garment treatments
  • Nature/animal kingdom (biomimetic)


The client is currently in the exploration/proof-of-concept stage, and welcomes all innovative approaches. It is the intention to prototype various implementations, and therefore a willingness to work with the client to develop a solution is important.

Preferred Business Model

  • R&D Collaboration
  • Licensing
  • Business Collaboration (Joint Venture, Distribution)

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