Homogenizers are commonly used to produce oil-in-water emulsions that consist of emulsifier-coated oil droplets suspended within an aqueous phase. The functional attributes of emulsions are usually controlled by selecting appropriate ingredients (e.g., surfactants, co-surfactants, oils, solvents, and co-solvents) and processing conditions (e.g., homogenizer type and operating conditions). However, the functional attributes of emulsions can also be tailored after homogenization by manipulating their composition, structure, or physical state. The interfacial properties of lipid droplets can be altered using competitive adsorption or coating methods (such as electrostatic deposition). The physical state of oil droplets can be altered by selecting an oil phase that crystallizes after the emulsion has been formed. The composition of the disperse phase can be altered by mixing different kinds of oil droplets together to induce inter-droplet exchange of oil molecules. The local environment of oil droplets can be altered by embedding them within hydrogel beads. The aggregation state of oil droplets can be controlled by promoting flocculation. These post-homogenization methods can be used to alter functional attributes such as physical stability, rheology, optical properties, chemical degradation, retention/release properties, and/or gastrointestinal fate.
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