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Developing Robust and Economical Micro-encapsulation Processes

Project Description

Micro-encapsulation (a technique of coating ingredients or additives) is a key method of protecting key ingredients in a broad range of industries, including foods, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. The motivations for micro-encapsulation are broad: preventing degradation of atmosphere sensitive materials, masking unpleasant flavours, improved handling, controlled release of active ingredients, improved mixing, and to enable the mixing of products which are chemically non compatible. In particular, the micro-encapsulation of bioactive compounds and probiotics is particularly promising.

Understanding of the micro-encapsulation process at an industrial scale is lacking, and producing micro-encapsulated products is very challenging, preventing regular application of this technology to the food industry. Of the manufacturing techniques for micro-encapsulation, fluidised bed coating is among the most promising, particularly at industrial production scales. This process must start with active ingredients in a powder form. This powder is fluidised using a fluidising gas, and the encapsulating liquid (often a solution of the final wall material, although solidifying melts are also options) is sprayed onto the surface of the particles.

The aim of the project is to conduct a multi-scale study of fluidised bed micro-encapsulation, designed to identify and quantify the individual rate processes, and use this research to develop industrial guidance for fluidised bed micro-encapsulation process design and scale-up.

A range of skills will be learnt through this project. In particular the student will gain training in designing and conducting a comprehensive experimental study. The successful student will also gain experience in particle size and shape analysis, research methods, professional writing, and oral presentations. Expert training in specific tools will be provided to the successful candidate.

This project will provide skills which are valuable to many industries, including the Pharmaceuticals, Foods, and Consumer Products industries.

The successful student will join a well established research group with excellent facilities, and will be a part of cutting edge research in particulate manufacturing. Opportunities for attendance at both international and national conferences will be provided, and there are prospects to visit other institutions both internationally and nationally.

Funding Notes

A successful applicant would have a first or upper second class degree in Chemical Engineering, Material Science or Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Food technology or Engineering, or the Physical Sciences such as Physics or Chemistry.

If English is not your first language then you must have International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) average of 6.5 or above with at least 6.0 in each component. See: View Website.

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