Hole and vacuole formation during drying of sessile whey protein droplets

Jacob Bouman, Paul Venema, Renko J. de Vries, Erik van der Linden, Maarten A.I. Schutyser*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Morphological development from droplet to particle during drying has strong influence on powder structure and functionality. We study the evolving morphological properties of whey protein droplets during single sessile droplet drying experiments as a well-defined model for spray drying. Sessile drying droplets were visualised with a camera and subjected to varying drying conditions such as temperature, initial protein concentration, presence of airflow and droplet rotation. The final particles were imaged by SEM and X-ray tomography. Under all conditions used, the droplets initially shrink steadily while at a specific point a hole nucleates. Subsequently, a vacuole develops until a rigid hollow particle is obtained. The location of the hole was found strongly dependent on the presence and the direction of the applied air flow. We hypothesise that in the early drying stage a skin forms, which becomes more rigid when the hole nucleates. The hole forms at the position where the local modulus of the skin layer is minimal and/or at the point below the skin where the local pressure is minimal, and that after the hole has nucleated, the vacuole develops mainly by evaporation of water through the hole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-135
JournalFood Research International
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Droplet drying
  • Dynamics
  • Morphology
  • Process conditions
  • Protein solution


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