Honeycomb structure of potato plates (V0366)
Richard Williams, Potatopak’s Director, explains how the honeycomb structure forms when potato starch is compression moulded.
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The molecular size of potato starch makes it ideal to form the structure of the potato plates. How does the starch form the honeycomb structure?
Richard Williams (Potatopak): The reason we use potato starch was potato starch – being a tuber – has got the biggest molecular size of starch, so one molecule will grow 400 times, and it gives a honeycomb effect, whereas, if you use a cereal starch, you have a denser product, so it will be thinner but heavier.
Honeycomb is created through the compression moulding and the heat and the water getting out as steam. When the plate goes into a mould, you’ve got two hot surfaces, on the bottom and the top and the mix forms a skin in the first 2 seconds, which is then quite impermeable, and so the water has to escape through the centre, out through the vents.
If you looked under a microscope, it looks like a foam, so that gives you the insulation – the honeycomb effect – so we get a nice insulative product. You can put hot food and liquid in it and you won’t feel the heat you know, similar qualities to polystyrene.
Crop & Food
- 10 December 2008
- The University of Waikato