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Caking Process and Microstructural Changes of Wall Materials Used in Spray-Drying Process

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Water Stress in Biological, Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Food Systems


Microencapsulation process is applied to protect the core material or active agent against environmental factors and helps resist brittle material processing conditions improving flavor, aroma, stability, nutritional value, and appearance. Microencapsulation applications are found in agricultural, pharmaceutical, food, cosmetics, and fragrance industries (Madene et al. 2006). The retention of the active agent in this process is governed, among other factors, by type of wall material, so its selection is an important step. The most commonly used materials include carbohydrates such as maltodextrin (MD) and gum arabic (GA) and proteins such as whey and soy protein isolate (SPI) (Madene et al. 2006; Matalanis et al. 2011). During microencapsulation process, the final products are in the form of powder containing individual microparticles, agglomerates, or both. The food powders containing amorphous carbohydrates could experiment physical changes as stickiness and caking when the powder is exposed to temperature above the powder’s glass transition temperature (T g ). This temperature is a function of the moisture content and water activity (a w ) of the powder (Foster et al. 2005; Schebor et al. 2010). At the T g , the viscosity of amorphous materials decreases significantly, allowing greater molecular mobility, which has effect in sticky behavior (Foster et al. 2005). The caking of food powders is an unwanted and very common problem that occurs during processing, handling, and storage. The particles of amorphous powders may progressively be deformed until they stick to each other and, eventually, form great agglomerates (Saragoni et al. 2007). This phenomenon is affected by microstructure and hygroscopicity; however, other facts are reported as decisive like stress, humidity, and temperature for caking mechanism and caking kinetics (Hartmann and Palzer 2011). The caking phenomenon reduces the product quality and functionality, rehydration, dispersibility, and the shelf life and increases deterioration of organoleptic quality and the formation of lumps and agglomerates (Lipasek et al. 2012). Microscopy techniques have been applied to analyze powder microstructure, identifying useful factors to describe changes observed during processing and storage (Guadarrama-Lezama et al. 2014).

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Soy protein isolate




Gum arabic

T g :

Glass transition temperature

a w :

Water activity


Differential scanning calorimetry

d. b.:

Dry base

D bridge :

Bridge diameter

D particle :

Particle diameter










Storage temperature


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The authors wish to thank the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (National Polytechnic Institute) for the financial support provided through the SIP project: 20140253 and 20140554, BEIFI-IPN, COFAA-IPN, CONACyT, project 216044, and the scholarships for the PhD studies of Josefina Porras-Saavedra. The authors are grateful for experimental support of Universidad de Buenos Aires and Instituto Mexicano del Petróleo.

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Correspondence to L. Alamilla-Beltrán .

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Porras-Saavedra, J., Palacios-González, E., Yáñez-Fernández, J., Mazzobre, M.F., Buera, M.P., Alamilla-Beltrán, L. (2015). Caking Process and Microstructural Changes of Wall Materials Used in Spray-Drying Process. In: Gutiérrez-López, G., Alamilla-Beltrán, L., del Pilar Buera, M., Welti-Chanes, J., Parada-Arias, E., Barbosa-Cánovas, G. (eds) Water Stress in Biological, Chemical, Pharmaceutical and Food Systems. Food Engineering Series. Springer, New York, NY.

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