Resource Efficient Innovations Database (REID)

Coating prevents biofouling on food processing machinery

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Coating prevents biofouling on food processing machinery
Novel coating keeps machinery sanitized and prevents contamination that can reduce product shelf life.
In Development – The research team is in the process of optimising the fabrication process and anticipate products for specific applications soon.

Product Waste Reduction, Shelf life extension

Product Categories
Drinks, Food

Relevant Materials
Not Applicable

Relevant Packaging Formats
Not Applicable

Supply Chain Phase


Biofilms are hard to remove pathogens that build up on machinery and other surfaces in manufacturing plants. They can form a tough surface skin that resists conventional commercial washing and sanitizing methods. Subsequently, they become a constant source of contamination, resulting in reduced product shelf life and potentially causing consumer illness.

Researchers have now developed a novel coating which forms a highly slippery surface to which the bacteria cannot attach. The technology makes a hybrid surface that is smooth and slippery due to its liquid layer. The surface is a infuses a porous solid matrix with a lubricating fluid. Since the liquid surface consists of molecules that are highly mobile, permanent interactions between the bacteria and the surface cannot be easily established.
There are a number of methods by which the coating can be attached to industrial metals.
The research has shown that the new technology is considerably more effective in controlling biofouling than other existing techniques. Further research is required to better understand whether any bacteria transiently attach to the surface then slip off, if they float on the surface, or if any remain loosely attached.
The technology, known as SLIPS (Slippery-Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces) has been developed at Harvard University.
The content in this entry has been obtained from publicly available information sources only (e.g. press releases, website and trade press articles) and is subject to completion of a validation process with the technology supplier.

Potential Benefits

Biofouling of machinery can be a constant source of product contamination in food production facilities, leading to reduced shelf life and subsequently increased product wastage in the downstream supply chain. The research has shown that the new technology is considerably more effective in controlling biofouling than other existing techniques.

Intellectual Property

The research work has been undertaken at Harvard University and is published in the research paper:
Liquid-infused structured surfaces with exceptional anti-biofouling performance”, Alexander K Epstein, Tak-Sing Wong, Rebecca A Belisle, Emily Marie Boggs and Joanna Aizenberg, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)

Consultant View

This is one of many different technologies currently being researched and developed which aim to extend product shelf life. Most focus on treating the product itself (for example, technologies such as active packaging solutions, ethylene gas release technologies, x-ray irradiation, breathable films and many others. This technique is interesting as it targets one of the sources of bacteria rather the product. The ability to effectively apply this coating to the surfaces of any material and any shape at low cost would be extremely interesting for food manufacturing operators.

Contacts and Further Information

Joanna Aizenberg
Biomineralization and Biomimetics Lab
Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
29 Oxford Street, Cambridge,
MA 02138,
Tel: 001 (617) 495-3558

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