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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/G042527/1
Title: Surface Character and Integrity of Multi-Component Systems During Spray Drying
Principal Investigator: Stapley, Dr AGF
Other Investigators:
Rielly, Professor C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: Loughborough University
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2009 Ends: 31 October 2009 Value (£): 46,322
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Particle Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
05 Feb 2009 Engineering Science (Flow) Panel Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Food powders are commodity products which constitute an important category of food ingredients worldwide. They are typically produced by the spray drying method in which a solution or suspension is sprayed into a chamber and contacted with hot air to dry the atomised droplets and form particles. These commodity products are made with very low margins, which makes it economically difficult to improve the properties of such powders by changing their bulk composition. However, for many properties (such as stickiness and wettability) it is the surface of the powder that is important as it is the surface that interacts most directly with its environment. The proposed Visiting Researcher, Dr Jim Jones, has found that the surface composition of spray dried powders containing fats can be influenced by changes in processing conditions (chiefly outlet air temperature) and the addition of small amounts of surfactants. This potentially offers a route by which added value can be given to powders by tailoring the surfaces at relatively modest cost. This proposal described here aims to acquire a greater understanding of the mechanisms determining how food components distribute (or partition) themselves between the main body and the surface of a powder during drying, and how this can be influenced by changing process conditions and using small amounts of additives. This will be achieved by a combined experimental and mathematical modelling approach. The modelling will seek to estimate the scale of recirculating flows within droplets which may help or hinder the partitioning of components. All the experimental and modelling results will then be used to produce a mechanistic model for the partitioning of components during drying. The project will involve Dr. Jim Jones of the Department of Chemical Engineering of Massey University in New Zealand working in collaboration with Dr. Andy Stapley and Prof. Chris Rielly at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Loughborough University for a period of seven months, as a Visiting Researcher. The project will study the spray drying of food-based suspension-emulsions containing small, but variable, amounts of thickeners and plasticisers (which alter the viscosity) and surfactants. Dr Jones will use the Fellowship to perform a set of experiments whereby feed composition and outlet temperature are varied, and the product materials (particularly surface composition) are analysed using a variety of characterization techniques available at Loughborough. He will collaborate with Dr Stapley in the design of the experiments and in the development of a mechanistic model, and they will both collaborate with Prof Rielly who will perform computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling. The CFD modelling will first be performed to calculate the flow fields within a whole spray dryer to assess the forces acting at the surfaces of droplets. This information will then be used as input to separate simulations which will model the circulating flow within drying drops. The information gained will help to assess whether recirculation within droplets helps or hinders partitioning. Once this is understood a mechanistic model for partitioning will be developed, and ultimately provide operational recommendations for manufacturers to make designer surfaces for powders.
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.lboro.ac.uk