Daniel Rivera / 17 May 2024

4 microencapsulation techniques of increasing interest for product innovation

Microencapsulation has broadly demonstrated its value for numerous and diverse industrial applications. In the article, we analyse four advanced microencapsulation techniques and explain why we consider that in the context of the coming years they will have an increasing interest in food and beverages, cosmetics, and pharmacy for product innovation.

Microencapsulation involves a process in which bioactive substances are enveloped with a coating material to create microcapsules or aggregated microparticles. This process aims to protect them from external agents that could compromise their stability (extreme temperatures, pH, humidity, light, etc.). Thus, we manage to maintain their viability, control their release until they reach their target, and even modify their properties.

The advantages of microencapsulation include:

  • Increased effectiveness of active ingredients.
  • Longer duration of the effect of an active substance.
  • Selection of the moment of release.
  • Reduction of undesirable aromas and flavours.
  • Separation of ingredients within the same matrix.
  • Stabilisation of microorganisms.
  • Reduction of dosage.
  • Management of liquids in solid format.

All this makes microencapsulation increasingly interesting as a valuable solution for the development of innovative products with more effective, safer, and healthier advanced properties and functionalities. It also represents an interesting option in relation to the cost reduction of industrial processes.

Four microencapsulation techniques for innovation in food, cosmetics, and pharmacy

As a result of over a decade of research and technological development in the field of microencapsulation, at AINIA we are increasingly adopting a number of microencapsulation techniques that enable us to overcome the current limitations in the use of technology. Although there are many more, we select those that we consider most powerful in the context of the coming years and explain why.

  • Microencapsulation by Spray Cooling, Spray Chilling, Spray Congealing, or Spray Freezing

The need to form encapsulates with lipid coating materials (oil-type) is mainly driven by applications related to the pharmaceutical sector or certain types of active food compounds.

This is because, in general, lipid coatings provide protection against stomach conditions. They are also a suitable alternative for encapsulated products intended for temperature-triggered release, such as baking ingredients, etc.

For example, active compounds encapsulated in cookies, cakes, etc., are included during preparation and would lose their activity if not coated.

We are talking about applications with coatings that are insoluble in aqueous environments, which require the development of spray cooling or chilling processes, as well as the development of industrial equipment to apply these processes on an industrial scale.

  • Microencapsulation by Spray Drying with Organic Solvents in an Inert Environment

The use of high temperatures in dehydration processes for thermosensitive active compounds, and the use of non-water-soluble coating materials, are other types of limitations for certain applications.

There are cases where the coating materials to be used dissolve better in an etamodic medium or another type of non-aqueous solvent. It may also happen that the compound to be encapsulated is dissolved in an organic solvent.

However, both issues can be resolved with processes and equipment for microencapsulation with organic solvents. This type of process and equipment facilitates the solubilization of non-hydrophilic coating materials and also allows for evaporation at melting points lower than that of water.

The development of these types of microencapsulation processes with organic solvents in an inert medium, as well as the definition of the necessary equipment for their use on an industrial scale, is crucial to bring these types of products to market, limited by more conventional technologies.

  • Microencapsulation with Supercritical Fluids

Another group of limitations of conventional processes is found in products that degrade very rapidly under mild temperature conditions, or in cases where the use of organic solvents is not possible or requires fine control of particle size distributions or particle structure.

In these products, an alternative that may be suitable is encapsulation with supercritical fluids. Moreover, integrating extractive processes with microencapsulation processes using supercritical fluids, in a combined single process, would allow the protection of compounds with minimal contact with oxygen, particularly suitable for easily oxidizable substances.

An example is the extraction of limonene, an active compound with great antioxidant power found in orange peel, and its encapsulation in cyclodextrins, a type of sugar with large cavities in its molecular structure.

  • Microencapsulation and Agglomeration of Microencapsulates

Finally, work is also being done to address the existing limitations in encapsulation technologies in terms of particle sizes.

Sometimes, a very low particle size makes handling difficult on an industrial scale. These types of particles cause the powdery product to behave too fluidly, leading to transport problems, formation of aerosols in the air…

An example is the agglomeration of particles for more efficient and safe handling in the industries of preservatives and natural additives that produce small-sized solids.

Additionally, sometimes a subsequent redissolution of the product in an aqueous medium is of interest, making the formation of agglomerates that facilitate the aqueous redispersion of the product interesting.

If you are interested in applying technological innovations in microencapsulation for the development of your products, AINIA offers a team of specialists with demonstrable experience in various applications, as well as the equipment and facilities prepared to fine-tune the various existing microencapsulation technologies. Call us.

Daniel Rivera (16 articles)


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