Applications of ultrasound for the functional modification of proteins and nanoemulsion formation: A review

Jonathan J. O’sullivan, Michael Park, Jack Beevers, Richard W. Greenwood, Ian T. Norton

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52 Citations (Scopus)
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This review surveys the most recent developments in low frequency, high power ultrasound for the functional modification of proteins derived from a number of food sources (e.g. dairy, animal, cereal, legume, tuber and fruit), and subsequently for the fabrication of nano-sized emulsion droplets. Aside from an overview of the fundamentals of ultrasound, including a cursory outline of ultrasonic cavitation, heat generation and acoustic energy determination via calorimetry, examples of ultrasound treatment for improvements in the dissolution, hydration, hydrophobicity, emulsifying and rheological performance of proteins are described. Ultrasound possesses the industrial capability to improve the functional properties of proteins, and this review emphasises the improvement to the surface active properties of proteins, which is attributed to decreases in protein aggregate size and increases in hydrophobicity, demonstrating increased molecular mobility. Finally, the utilisation of ultrasound for the fabrication of nanoemulsions is assessed with a particular focus on the intrinsic relationship between process configuration (i.e. batch or continuous), processing parameters (i.e. acoustic power and residence time) and emulsion formulation (i.e. emulsifier type and concentration). A better understanding of the effect of industrially relevant high molecular weight biopolymers (i.e. proteins) within ultrasonic emulsification processes would increase the utilisation of ultrasound as a fabrication technique for nano-sized emulsion droplets.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFood Hydrocolloids
Early online date30 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Dec 2016


  • Ultrasonic processing
  • Proteins
  • Functional properties
  • Emulsifying performance
  • Nanoemulsion fabrication
  • Sonoreactor design


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