Characterization of microcapsules: recommended methods based on round-robin testing

S Rosinski, G Grigorescu, D Lewinska, LG Rizen, H Viernstein, E Teunou, Zhibing Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

43 Citations (Scopus)


Alginate beads, as well as microcapsules based on alginate, cellulose sulphate and polymethylene-co-guanidine, were produced at diameters of 0.4, 1. 0 and 1. 5 mm. These standard materials were tested, by independent laboratories, in regards to water activity, bead or capsule size, mechanical resistance and transport behaviour. The water activity and mechanical resistance were observed to increase with bead and capsule size. Transport properties (ingress) were assessed using a variety of low molar mass and macromolecular probes. It was observed that the penetration of Vitamin B12 increased with bead diameter, as did dextran penetration. However, for the membrane-containing microcapsules, larger membrane thickness, observed for the larger capsules, retarded ingress. The authors, who are part of a European working group, recommend that permeability be assessed either using a large range of probes or a broad molar mass standard, with measurements at one or two molar masses insufficient to simulate the behaviour in application. Mechanical compression is seen as a good means to estimate elasticity and rupture of beads and capsules, with the sensitivity of the force transducer, which can vary from muN to tens of N, required to be tuned to the anticipated bead or capsule strength. Overall, with the exception of the mechanical properties, the precision in the inter-laboratory testing was good. Furthermore, the various methods of assessing transport properties agreed, in ranking, for the beads and capsules characterized, with gels having smaller radii being less permeable. For microcapsules, the permeation across the membrane dominates the ingress, and thicker membranes have lower permeability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-659
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Microencapsulation
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2002


  • alginate gel beads
  • size distribution
  • water activity
  • microcapsules
  • characterization
  • mass transport
  • properties
  • permeability
  • mechanical strength
  • encapsulation


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