Food Colloids Conference 2018
The 17th Food Colloids Conference: Application of Soft Matter Concepts
The Food Colloids Conferences is a biennial event concerning the physical chemistry of complex foods, with the aim to understand the interactions between food components to create multi-phase structures on different length scales.
The conference aims to bring together leading international experts from academia and industry to share in the latest research and developments in fundamental colloid science, soft matter, and applications.
The conference has a long history, starting out in 1986 and rotating among many different locations throughout Europe. Following is list of the previous conferences and locations:
- 1986 Food Emulsions and Foams, Leeds, UK
- 1988 Food Colloids, Bedford, UK
- 1990 Food Polymers, Gels and Colloids, Norwich, UK
- 1992 Food Colloids and Polymers: Stability and Mechanical Properties, Lunteren, The Netherlands
- 1994 Food Macromolecules and Colloids, Dijon, France
- 1996 Food Colloids: Proteins, Lipids and Polysaccharides, Ystad, Sweden
- 1998 Food Emulsions and Foams: Interfaces, Interactions and Stability, Seville, Spain
- 2000 Food Colloids: Fundamentals of Formulation, Potsdam, Germany
- 2002 Food Colloids, Biopolymers and Materials, Wageningen, The Netherlands
- 2004 Food Colloids: Interactions, Microstructure and processing, Harrogate, UK
- 2006 Food Colloids: Self-Assembly and Material Science, Montreux, Switzerland
- 2008 Food Colloids: Creating Structure, Delivering Functionality, Le Mans, France
- 2010 Food Colloids: On the Road from Interfaces to Consumers, Granada, Spain
- 2012 Food Colloids: Creation and breakdown of structure, Copenhagen, Denmark
- 2014 Food Colloids: Design of Food Colloid Functionality, Karlsruhe, German
- 2016 Food Colloids: Structuring Beyond the Colloidal Scale, Wageningen, The Netherlands
For 2018, the conference was held again at Leeds for the first time since the original conference. Over 300 delegates attended from 29 different countries around the world. There were 50 oral presentations and 183 posters on display. It was an intense few days, to say the least. The themes of this year’s conference were:
- Interfacial design
- Relating structure to properties (macro-meso-micro-nano)
- Biopolymer interactions
- Colloidal aspects of eating and digestion
- Processing of novel structures for functionality
There was a multitude of interesting research presented during the conference. For me, however, the highlights of the conference were the presentations from Dr. Paul Clegg and Prof. Raffaele Mezzenga.
Dr. Paul Clegg, from the University of Edinburgh, gave a keynote lecture during the interfacial design sessions, discussing his work on bijels. Bijels are a novel soft solid known as bicontinuous interfacially jammed emulsion gels, which is a variant of a Pickering emulsion. In Pickering emulsions, emulsions stabilized by solid particles, one liquid is generally suspended within another in the form of droplets. In bijels, however, a bi-continuous network of two immiscible liquids is achieved, creating a very interesting microstructure. An example of a bijel is shown in the following image.
Previously, bijel structures were achieved using phase-separation techniques, with partially miscible liquids. However, the use of this technique greatly constrains the choice of starting ingredients. In this presentation, Dr. Clegg showed how bijels could be formed by combining interfacial nanoparticles and molecular surfactants together with immiscible liquids of high viscosity, as a way to avoid the need for a phase separation transition. With this method, the tortuous structure is created via the mixing protocol making it is now possible to create bijels using a wider spectrum of ingredients.
Prof. Raffaele Mezzenga, from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, gave his keynote lecture for the ‘relating structure to properties’ session. The presentation introduced food protein nanofribrils, in which protein fibrils are generated from food-grade proteins, by unfolding, hydrolysis, and one-dimensional polymerization. The image belows shows edible whey protein nanofibrils containing iron nanapoarticles (the black dots).
These nanofibrils form colloidal aggregates, which exhibit unique behaviours due to their rigidity, chirality, and polarity. Prof Mezzenga discussed how the nanofibrils coud be used to make a 20 carat gold foam that, amazingly, is light enough to sit on top of the milk foam of a cappuccino.
In another example, Prof. Mezzenga showed how the technology could employed as a delivery system for iron nanoparticles. The system could be used to boost iron levels in the diet by improving absorption, and avoiding altering the color, taste, and smell of foods. By the careful exploitation of the unique properties of these protein nanofibrils, the design of materials with unprecedented physical properties have become possible.
Elsevier are supporting the conference with a special themed issue of Colloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects – “VSI: Food Colloids”.
I have learned a lot and met a lot interested people over the last few days. Overall I am very happy I had the chance to attend. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to attend again at the next conference in Lund, Sweden in 2020!