Food active ingredients can be encapsulated by different processes, including spray drying, spray cooling, spray chilling, spinning disc and centrifugal co-extrusion, extrusion, fluidized bed coating and coacervation (see Chap. 2 of this book). The purpose of encapsulation is often to stabilize an active ingredient, control its release rate and/or convert a liquid formulation into a solid which is easier to handle. A range of edible materials can be used as shell materials of encapsulates, including polysaccharides, fats, waxes and proteins (see Chap. 3 of this book). Encapsulates for typical industrial applications can vary from several microns to several millimetres in diameter although there is an increasing interest in preparing nano-encapsulates. Encapsulates are basically particles with a core-shell structure, but some of them can have a more complex structure, e.g. in a form of multiple cores embedded in a matrix. Particles have physical, mechanical and structural properties, including particle size, size distribution, morphology, surface charge, wall thickness, mechanical strength, glass transition temperature, degree of crystallinity, flowability and permeability. Information about the properties of encapsulates is very important to understanding their behaviours in different environments, including their manufacturing processes and end-user applications. E.g. encapsulates for most industrial applications should have desirable mechanical strength, which should be strong enough to withstand various mechanical forces generated in manufacturing processes, such as mixing, pumping, extrusion, etc., and may be required to be weak enough in order to release the encapsulated active ingredients by mechanical forces at their end-user applications, such as release rate of flavour by chewing. The mechanical strength of encapsulates and release rate of their food actives are related to their size, morphology, wall thickness, chemical composition, structure etc. Hence, reliable methods which can be used to characterize these properties of encapsulates are vital. In this chapter, the state-of-art of these methods, their principles and applications, and release mechanisms are described as follows.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)