Simple models for evaluating effects of small leaks on the gas barrier properties of food packages

Donghwan Chung, Spyridon E. Papadakis, Kit L. Yam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


A detailed theoretical analysis and calculations were made for providing a simple and explicit means to evaluate the effects of small leaks on the barrier properties of food packages. Small leaks, such as pinholes and channel leaks, were approximated as cylindrical pores with diameters of 50-300 μm. The first part of the current study proposes a simple mathematical model based on Fick's law of diffusion, which accounts for both the gas leakage across small leaks and the gas permeation across package walls. The model uses an effective permeability that depends on leak dimensions, type of diffusing gas, type of packaging material and gas conditions around the leak ends. In the second part of the study, three practical cases are presented to illustrate the application of the proposed model in examining the significance of leaks. These demonstrate in a simple and explicit manner that for LDPE packages: (a) leaks affect the oxygen transfer more than the water vapour transfer; (b) leak effects are more significant at lower storage temperatures; and (c) that for high gas barrier packages, the effect of leaks is very important and should not be neglected. The model can be also used to arrive at conclusions about the significance of leaks in other packaging situations (e.g. other than LDPE packaging materials) and to correct the shelf-life estimation of gas- and water vapour-sensitive foods for errors from package leaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalPackaging Technology and Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Channel leak
  • Diffusion
  • Food package
  • Gas barrier
  • Pinhole


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