Delving into one of the “grand challenges of science,” a Flinders University (Australia) device that previously “unboiled” egg protein is now unraveling the mystery of incompatible fluids; a development that could enhance popular foods and supplements. The method offers a way to make oil and water attract.
Using the highly advanced rapid processing techniques possible in the Flinders vortex fluidic device (VFD), the research team has capped off ten years of research to find a way to use clean chemistry to unlock the mystery of “mixing immiscibles.”
This will have applications in a range of global industries, not just in food processing, but also for nutraceuticals, cosmetics and drug delivery – such as pure and effective fish oil capsules, highlights Flinders University professor Colin Raston, senior author in the new paper published in Chemical Science.
“Mixing immiscible liquids is fundamentally important in process engineering and usually involves a lot of energy input and waste products,” says Raston.
“We now demonstrate how this process, using a common solvent and water, can avoid the use of other substance for controlling reactions across immiscible liquids, making it cleaner and greener,” he explains.
Co-author Matt Jellicoe, also from the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, explains: “Using thin-film microfluidics in combination with high shear flow chemistry and high heat and mass transfer, the rapidly evolving VFD technology is overcoming the mixing limitations of traditional batch processing.”
“We conducted over 100,000 experiments to establish how liquids mix and what their flow behaviors are at very small nano-meter dimensions,” adds co-author Aghil Igder, also from the Flinders Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.
In addition, the Flinders University team has also upsized the VFD machine on experimental biodegradable polymers to start making its organic substances and clean technologies available at scale to suit a range of industries.
The VFD has been used in multiple experiments to produce quality drug elements, such as peptides, better fish oil and food products and many other value-adding green chemical processes. These can now be replicated in a recently developed scaled-up version of the device.
Collaborators in the project include researchers from Guangzhou University in China, The University of WA, University of Newcastle, ANSTO and Flinders Microscopy and Microanalysis and Flinders Centre for Marine Bioproducts Development at Flinders University.
In similar moves to uncover new methods of improving mixability, Prodalim recently developed a way to make ultra-fine, water-soluble powders out of natural oils, thus enabling new possibilities for functional F&B with fat-soluble vitamins and lipid-based nutrients.