Oxygen Transmission Rate (OTR)

All types of plastics are not gas-proof. Therefore oxygen will diffuse into plastic packages. As result the packaged goods can loose their properties. Food will for example change its taste and/or its color. The result is a short shelf life. For a long shelf life and a good quality of packages goods, it is important that packages have a good oxygen diffusion barrier. This can be achieved with plasma coating.

The amount of diffusing in oxygen can be expressed by the oxygen transmission rate (OTR). The OTR describes what oxygen volume diffuses thorough a defined area during a defined time. The OTR is therefore an important benchmark for many packaging applications

To answer this one must know more about the packaged good. There are 2 different ways of calculating the necessary OTR:

  • Either one knows the maximal allowed oxygen volume in the package
  • or one knows the maximal allowed mass fraction of oxygen in the package.

For the first way see the next section about the oxygen level calculation. The second way can be used if one doesn’t know much about the oxygen limits of the particular product, because one could look in literature for limits. Tab. 1 lists some limits for different classes of food.

Oxygen ingress limits for different types of food with values

Tab. 1: Oxygen ingress limits for different types of food with values from R. B. Armstrong, “Effects of polymer structure on gas barrier of ethylene vinyl alcohol (EVOH) and considerations for package development,” in Tappi Place Conference 2002.

Type of food
Maximal oxygen ingress in mass-ppm

Canned milk, meats, fish and poultry

1 - 5

Beer, ale, wine

1 - 5

Canned vegetables, soups, spaghetti, catsup, sauces

1 – 5

Canned fruit

5 – 15

Dried foods

5 – 15

Carbonated soft drinks

10 – 40

Fruit juices, drinks

10 – 40

Oils, shortening

50 – 200

Salad dressings

50 – 200

Peanut butter

50 – 200

Jams, jellies, syrups, pickles, olives vinegar

50 – 200

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