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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/J501700/1
Title: edible Pickering Emulsion Technology (ePET)
Principal Investigator: Norton, Professor IT
Other Investigators:
Spyropoulos, Dr F Bakalis, Professor S
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Chemical Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: Technology Programme
Starts: 21 August 2012 Ends: 20 August 2015 Value (£): 303,651
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Complex fluids & soft solids Particle Technology
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Manufacturing Food and Drink
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Obesity is placing an increasing burden on health services as well as lowering life quality; the direct cost of obesity to NHS

is £4.2bn (£16bn indirect costs), forecasted by Foresight to more than double (and to reach £50bn indirect costs) by 2050.

Healthy foods can help ease this strain, however consumers still expect these to provide a pleasurable eating experience.

This requires formulation of food products of "invisibly" reduced fat, identical in taste and "convenience" to their full-fat

counterparts. Reduced-fat healthy foods based on double emulsions could achieve just that. Nonetheless uses of double

emulsion technology in foods are absent due to technological issues in need of break-through innovation. This project

proposes the design, development and ability to manufacture novel, multifunctional, high value, Pickering-stabilised double

emulsions for the development of foods specifically formulated with reference to fat reduction.

At a conceptual level, double emulsions offer enormous potential in the development of healthy foods; namely because

they impart an "unperceived" fat reduction in foods but also by "invisibly" carrying and delivering nutrients and bioactives

without compromising on taste. Although "simple" emulsions are well-established systems in many commercial areas

(including foods), science and technological knowledge are not yet available to allow double emulsions to be commercially

produced. To achieve this, innovation is needed to overcome processing and stability issues currently associated with

double emulsions; (a) Processing issues: double emulsions are produced by a 2-step emulsification process. However the

2nd step can "damage" the primary structure resulting in inconsistent emulsions, and thus double structures that are prone

to destabilisation (Ostwald ripening). (b) Stability issues: double emulsions are stabilised by at least two low molecular

weight surfactants. These tend to migrate between the two oppositely curved interfaces, eventually leading to the collapse

of the double structure. This destabilisation process is accelerated by Laplace pressure and chemical potential differences

between the two aqueous phases of the double structure. This collaborative R&D project will address these important

technological challenges; namely the ability to produce double emulsions consistently through a range of processes, to

deliver double emulsions with long-term stability and to formulate these complex microstructures with significantly reduced

emulsifier levels. Evidence from the University of Birmingham suggests that both the processing and stability issues

currently associated with double emulsions can be potentially addressed by the use of Pickering particles. However edible

structures that can be used as Pickering particles are currently unavailable. This project will deliver both the formulation

design rules and processing routes in order to manufacture stable edible Pickering particles. The proposed project

programme is carefully designed to quickly recognise potential edible Pickering particles and edible Pickering double

emulsions "technologies" for use in prototype manufacture, to scale-up the processes to produce these and finally to

sensorially evaluate the manufactured prototypes and establish whether they can deliver acceptable fat-reduced food


The project team provides a unique and synergistic offering which will catalyse different thinking, approaches and pave the

way for innovation, through understanding of surface chemistries, advances in process engineering, measurement and

characterisation. The proposed research program involves the University of Birmingham (UoB), Cargill and Unilever. The technology developed and understanding gained from this collaboration will enable many new applications and foods to

reach the market, with IPR from this project also expected to be commercially innovative.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
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Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk