Improving the Industrial Practice of Reactive Washing of Cork Stoppers Using a Fractional Factorial Design


Reactive washing (RW) is a key process for disinfecting, purifying, and bleaching of cork stoppers to seal bottles with alcoholic beverages. Excessively severe treatment conditions deteriorate the surface properties of cork stoppers and must be strictly controlled. In this study, the conventional RW of natural cork stoppers was optimized employing a fractional factorial design. The RW variables (H2O2 and NaOH concentrations, oxidation time, and washing water volume) were correlated with the final ISO brightness of the stoppers. A three-level and four-factor fractional factorial design within the response surface methodology approach allowed a quadratic model to predict the process response, where the H2O2 concentration is the variable with the highest response (ISO brightness), followed by the NaOH concentration. The model obtained was validated, allowing the optimization of the process with savings of 37% in the concentration of H2O2 and 33% in the concentration of NaOH and volume of washing water, without deteriorating the final appearance of the stoppers. In addition, the less severe treatment of stoppers under optimized conditions led to less degradation of their surface, thus favoring the receptivity to functional coatings.



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Branco, DG; Santiago, C; Cabrita, L; Evtuguin, DV

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This work was developed within the scope of the project NEWASHCORK (POCI-01-0247-FEDER-034048) financed by ANI and co-financed by FEDER and supported by CICECO-Aveiro Institute of Materials, FCT Ref. UIDB/50011/2020 and UIDP/50011/2020, financed by national funds through the FCT/MCTES.

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