Modeling water sorption dynamics of cellular solid food systems using free volume theory

M.B.J. Meinders, T. van Vliet

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Water sorption and dynamical properties of bread crust were studied using gravimetric sorption experiments. Water uptake and loss were measured while relative humidity (RH) was step-wise in- or decreased. Experimental results were compared with Fickian diffusion models and empirical models like the exponential and power-law model. From comparison of experimental sorption curves and the power-law model for short times it followed for all bread crust that the diffusional coefficient n is close to one. It turned out that this is not due to so-called case II diffusion and water transport that is limited by relaxation of the solid material but due to the fact that RH did not instantaneously but gradually increased to the set value. Sorption curves of isotherm experiments could be best described by the Fickian diffusion model for low RH and by the exponential model for large RH. Transport rates depend on moisture content and show a maximum around RH = 0.7, corresponding to a water mass fraction ¿1 = 0.12. Diffusion rates could be well described by free volume theory up to the maximum, but this theory could not explain the strong decrease at higher ¿1. Indications for a local glass-rubber transition at room temperature were found near a water mass fraction ¿1 ˜ 0.09. This corresponds very well to the start of the crisp–non-crisp transition as measured by a sensory panel, but not to the glass-rubber transition at ¿1 ˜ 0.12 as measured by other techniques like Differential Scanning Calorimetry. So it seems that more than one glass-rubber like transitions may be important to describe the properties of heterogeneous cellular food systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2234-2242
JournalFood Hydrocolloids
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • polymer-solvent systems
  • self-diffusion
  • moisture diffusivity
  • amorphous polymers
  • glass-transition
  • parameters
  • coefficients
  • overcooking
  • isotherms
  • spaghetti


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