Spray drying of whey protein-based emulsions is a common task in food engineering. Lipophilic, low molecular weight emulsifiers including lecithin, citrem, and mono- and diglycerides, are commonly added to the formulations, as they are expected to improve the processing and shelf life stability of the products. During the atomization step of spray drying, the emulsions are subjected to high stresses, which can lead to breakup and subsequent coalescence of the oil droplets. The extent of these phenomena is expected to be greatly influenced by the emulsifiers in the system. The focus of this study was therefore set on the changes in the oil droplet size of whey protein-based emulsions during atomization, as affected by the addition of low molecular weight emulsifiers. Atomization experiments were performed with emulsions stabilized either with whey protein isolate (WPI), or with combinations of WPI and lecithin, WPI and citrem, and WPI and mono- and diglycerides. The addition of lecithin promoted oil droplet breakup during atomization and improved droplet stabilization against coalescence. The addition of citrem and of mono- and diglycerides did not affect oil droplet breakup, but greatly promoted coalescence of the oil droplets. In order to elucidate the underlying mechanisms, measurements of interfacial tensions and coalescence times in single droplets experiments were performed and correlated to the atomization experiments. The results on oil droplet breakup were in good accordance with the observed differences in the interfacial tension measurements. The results on oil droplet coalescence correlated only to a limited extent with the results of coalescence times of single droplet experiments.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited