Protein microbubbles are air bubbles with a network of interacting proteins at the air-water interface. Protein microbubbles are commonly used in medical diagnostic and therapeutic research. They have also recently gained interest in the research area of food as they can be used as structural elements to control texture, allowing for the manufacture of healthier foods with increased consumer perception. For the application of microbubbles in the food industry, it is important to gain insights into their stability under food processing conditions. In this study, we tested the stability of protein microbubbles against heating and pressurization. Microbubbles could be heated to 50 °C for 2 min or pressurized to 100 kPa overpressure for 15 s without significantly affecting their stability. At higher pressures and temperatures, the microbubbles became unstable and buckled. Buckling was observed above a critical pressure and was influenced by the shell modulus. The addition of cross-linkers like glutaraldehyde and tannic acid resulted in microbubbles that were stable against all tested temperatures and overpressures, more specifically, up to 120 °C and 470 kPa, respectively. We found a relation between the storage temperatures of microbubble dispersions (4, 10, 15, and 21 °C) and a decrease in the number of microbubbles with the highest decrease at the highest storage temperature. The average rupture time of microbubbles stored at different storage temperatures followed an Arrhenius relation with an activation energy for rupture of the shell of approximately 27 kT. This strength ensures applicability of microbubbles in food processes only at moderate temperatures and storage for a moderate period of time. After the proteins in the shell are cross-linked, the microbubbles can withstand pressures and temperatures that are representative of food processes.
- storage temperature