Martí-Franquès COFUND Fellowship Programme


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Engineering and Architecture

Supervisor name and surname:

Carme Güell Saperas

Supervisor email:

Supervisor short biography

PhD programme:

Nanoscience, Materials and Chemical Engineering

Title of the research project:

Microfluidics for food applications: design of dispersion-based edible delivery s systems

Description of the research project:

The biorefinery approach to food manufacture is opening the possibility to obtain natural ingredients while reducing solid and liquid waste disposal of the industry. Technology is evolving to develop and implement sustainable methodologies to extract and concentrate valuable compounds at their best quality, which can be used for food and non-food applications. The final step in a recovery strategy involves product design to incorporate the novel food ingredients according to their specific functionality. This can be achieved, among others, by encapsulation in dispersion-based delivery systems.
The objective of the thesis is to link the interactions between interfacial components, mainly food-grade emulsifiers, and droplet break-up mechanisms during microporous emulsification. On-line measurement by microfluidics of dynamic interfacial properties of tailor made food-grade emulsifiers is the start point of the research, which will be followed by experiments to understand emulsion destabilization under in vitro digestion using multi-organ microfluidics. The models tested will include the design of emulsion-based delivery systems in terms of phase-structure (multiple emulsion), formulation (ingredients, phase fraction), interfacial properties (single-, multi-layered or complex) and compatibility with the final food.
Multiple emulsions will be obtained using a microstructured system that consists of a packed bed of silica beads. The operating conditions during emulsification and the interfacial properties of the food-grade emulsifiers, measured with microfluidics, will be related to droplet size and stability of the emulsion. In vitro experiments at micro-scale will provide relevant information of emulsion destabilization mechanisms under simulated digestive environments. The advantages of using microporous packed bed systems for emulsification are low energy requirements, control of the porous microstructure and re-use of the bed material.
The results will enable the process scale-up for the production of dispersion-based edible delivery systems for food applications. Microfluidic devices will assist (1) to obtain relevant information on the interfacial properties of the emulsifiers, which can be related with the stability of the multiple emulsions, and (2) to determine scaling relations. The thesis will apply microtechnology to gather knowledge on destabilization mechanisms of multiple emulsions under simulated gastrointestinal conditions, which will facilitate the food product design.

Gross anual salary:

26443.80 €


Full time

Working hours:

37.5 hours a week

Expected start date:

European union This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 713679