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Title:
PREPARING DRIED PARTICLES USING A SUPERCRITICAL MEDIUM
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/097626
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The invention relates to a method for preparing particles from an aqueous liquid composition which further contains a composition to form the particles from, wherein the composition is contacted with a supercritical medium, so as to form the particles. The invention further relates to a method for drying aqueous composition, comprising the removal of water from the composition by contacting the composition with a supercritical medium, so as to form a dried product.

Inventors:
WESTHOFF, Gerrit, Marten (Trombonestraat 56, CH Amersfoort, NL-3822, NL)
TEN KORTENAAR, Marnix, Victor (Fazantenlaan 7, BH Wezep, NL-8091, NL)
POORTINGA, Albert, Thijs (Spadelaan 54, AL Apeldoorn, NL-7331, NL)
Application Number:
NL2007/050077
Publication Date:
August 30, 2007
Filing Date:
February 23, 2007
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
FRIESLAND BRANDS B.V. (Blankenstein 142, PE Meppel, NL-7943, NL)
WESTHOFF, Gerrit, Marten (Trombonestraat 56, CH Amersfoort, NL-3822, NL)
TEN KORTENAAR, Marnix, Victor (Fazantenlaan 7, BH Wezep, NL-8091, NL)
POORTINGA, Albert, Thijs (Spadelaan 54, AL Apeldoorn, NL-7331, NL)
International Classes:
A23L3/46; A23C1/00; A61K9/14; B01D1/18; F26B3/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2002092213A1
WO2002058674A2
Foreign References:
US5639441A
US20030215515A1
US6063138A
DE19904990A1
EP0711586A2
Other References:
JOVANOVIC NATASA ET AL: "Stabilization of proteins in dry powder formulations using supercritical fluid technology" PHARMACEUTICAL RESEARCH (DORDRECHT), vol. 21, no. 11, November 2004 (2004-11), pages 1955-1969, XP002404648 ISSN: 0724-8741
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VAN LOON, C., J., J. (VEREENIGDE, JR Den Haag, NL-2517, NL)
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Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A method for preparing edible particles, in particular particles for a food, including beverages, or food ingredient, including ingredients for beverages, from an aqueous liquid composition which further contains a component to form the particles from, wherein the composition is contacted with a supercritical medium, so as to form the particles.

2. A method for drying aqueous edible particles, in particular particles for a food, including beverages, or food ingredient, including ingredients for beverages, comprising the removal of water from the composition by contacting the composition with a supercritical medium, so as to form a dried product, in particular dried particles.

3. A method according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the formed particles and the dried composition, respectively, are essentially free of organic solvents which are unsuitable for human consumption.

4. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the composition is atomized, preferably by mixing the composition with supercritical medium and spraying it in a precipitation space.

5. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the particle formation takes place at a temperature of minimally the temperature corresponding to the critical point of the supercritical medium and maximally 220 0 C.

6. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the particle formation takes place at a pressure of minimally the pressure corresponding to the critical point of the supercritical medium and maximally 500 bar. 7. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the composition is an emulsion, in particular an emulsion of oil and/or fat in an aqueous continuous phase.

8. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the composition is mixed with a gas, preferably a gas chosen from the group consisting of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, or a mixture of gases such as air. 9. A method according to any one" of the preceding claims, wherein the supercritical medium comprises supercritical carbon dioxide and/or supercritical nitrous oxide.

10. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the composition comprises at least one component for forming particles chosen from the group consisting of foods and food ingredients, in particular from the group of fats, carbohydrates, polypeptides (including proteins), acids, flavorings and salts.

11. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the particles are a food or an ingredient for a food. 12. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the particles are separated from the supercritical medium.

13. A method according to claim 12, wherein the separation takes place utilizing a filter and/or a cyclone.

14. A method according to claim 12 or 13, wherein the supercritical medium is reused for contacting it with the composition, after removal of water from the supercritical medium.

15. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the weight ratio of solvents other than water and edible oils to water is 0:1 to 1:2, in particular 0:1 to 1:10, more in particular 0:1 to 1:99. 16. A method according to any one of the preceding claims, which takes place by means of a continuous process.

17. Particles obtainable by means of any one of the preceding claims.

18. Use of a supercritical medium for drying an aqueous product, in particular a thermally instable product.

Description:

Title: Preparing dried particles using a supercritical medium

The invention relates to preparing particles from aqueous compositions and drying a composition, respectively. The invention further relates to thus prepared particles, and to the use of a supercritical medium.

For preparing particles from aqueous compositions and drying aqueous compositions, respectively, all sorts of techniques are known.

For preparing and drying particles, spray-drying is a conventional technique. With spray-drying, typically, wet emulsions or dispersions are sprayed under pressure in a spray tower and then contacted with hot air at a temperature of 140-300 0 C. However, spray-drying can cause problems as a result of a high thermal load of the product, which can lead to quality loss, in particular if the product contains a component which is heat-sensitive. Also, problems can occur with the controllability of the product properties such as particle size distribution, form and/or solubility; there is the risk of dust explosions. Further, the high energy consumption is a problem. For conventional spray-drying, the energy consumption is of the order of 3700 kJ per kg water which is removed.

WO 99/17868 describes a method for preparing a powdery product from a liquid. The liquids to be treated are organic liquids or particle-forming material in an organic solvent. Here, a gas is dissolved in the liquid under pressure. The pressure may be chosen within a wide range and may be below the supercritical pressure. Then, the solution is expanded at a temperature below the critical temperature. In the presence of a powdery auxiliary substance, then the particles are formed. Use of the organic solvent makes this method unsuitable for the preparation of foods. WO 02/092213 relates to a method where an emulsion is dried using a supercritical liquid or a liquefied gas. The emulsion generally contains an

organic solvent as the main solvent. Further, water is present. The choice of the organic solvent is critical with regard to obtaining a stable emulsion; it needs to be very soluble in the supercritical liquid or the liquefied gas and needs to be capable of extracting water along to the supercritical liquid or the liquefied gas. For extracting the water, it is important that the water content is sufficiently low. The importance of choosing the right organic solvent is a complicating factor.

Further, in the choice of the organic solvent, care needs to be taken that it causes no unacceptable toxicity risk for the use for which the product is intended. According to WO 02/092213, it is possible to prepare products with a sufficiently low concentration of a majority of the solvents in pharmaceutical, cosmetic or veterinary applications. To foods, however, more stringent requirements may apply.

US-A 2003/215515 relates to conserving a bioactive material, including viruses and bacteria. From the bioactive material, a solution or suspension is prepared in the presence of a polyol. Then, the solution or suspension is mixed with a high-pressure gas or a virtually supercritical liquid. Then, a suspension of drops in the gaseous phase is prepared by reducing the pressure on the mixture. The drops are then dried using a subcritical drying gas.

DE-A 19904990 relates to the preparation of solid nanoparticles from a dispersion using a gas brought under pressure. As a solvent for the dispersion, an alcohol is used, which may optionally contain a low content of water. The preparation of edible particles for foods is not described. It is an object of the invention to provide a new method with which particles can be prepared and a composition can be dried, respectively, in particular a method with which one or more of the problems mentioned herein are solved.

It is further an object to provide a new particulate product, in particular a new particulate product with desired product properties such as

a high degree of roundness, a good solubility in water and/or good foam-building properties.

It has now surprisingly been found that an object of the invention is achieved by means of a method where, from an aqueous composition; water is separated from a particle-forming component by use of a specific medium.

Therefore, in a first aspect, the invention relates to a method for preparing particles from an aqueous liquid composition which further contains a component to form the particles from, while the composition is contacted with a supercritical medium, so as to form the particles. In a second aspect, the invention relates to a method for drying an aqueous composition, comprising removing water from the composition by contacting the composition with a supercritical medium.

In a preferred embodiment, the aqueous composition is an emulsion, in particular an emulsion of oil and/or fat in an aqueous continuous phase. Herein, "aqueous" is at least understood to mean that more than 50 wt.% to 100 wt.%, in particular at least 75 wt.%, more in particular at least 90 wt.% or at least 95 wt.% of the above-mentioned phase consists of water.

Most preferably, the emulsion contains at least one particle-forming component chosen from the group of carbohydrates and proteins. A supercritical medium is a substance at a temperature and pressure above the thermodynamically critical point. The critical point determines the conditions (temperature, pressure) at which the liquid phase in effect exists no longer. When a liquid is heated, the density decreases while the pressure and density of the vapor which is formed increase. Upon further heating, the densities of the liquid and vapor approach each other until the critical temperature is reached where the two densities are equal to each other and the liquid-gas (vapor) phase separation disappears. In more general terms, the critical point is the end point of a phase equilibrium curve, which separates two distinctive phases. At this point, the phases are no longer distinctive.

The invention further relates to particles obtainable by means of a method according to the invention. Preferred examples of particles according to the invention are powdery creamers, in particular cold soluble creamers, coffee powder, in particular cappuccino powder. In one embodiment, the particles obtainable according to the invention are particles with a hierarchical structure. In this specification, particles with a hierarchical structure are particles which are composed of different substances, in particular particles with one or more compartments of a first substance therein which are surrounded (encapsulated) by a second substance. In one embodiment, an oil or fat is encapsulated by means of a method according to the invention.

Surprisingly, by means of the method described here, hierarchical particles, in particular encapsulated oil and/or fat particles, can be produced by spraying an emulsion in a supercritical medium. This is particularly surprising because it was reported earlier that contact between emulsions and a supercritical medium resulted in demulsification (see e.g. "A novel process for demulsification of water-in-erude oil emulsions by dense carbon dioxide", Zaki, Nael N.; Carbonell, Ruben G.; Kilpatrick, Peter K. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (2003), 42(25), 6661-6672). Fig. 1 and Fig. 2 schematically show an installation with which a method according to the invention can be carried out;

Fig. 3A shows a photograph taken with scanning electron microscopy of a cappuccino foamer according to the invention (Example 1);

Fig. 3B shows a photograph taken with scanning electron microscopy of a cold soluble powder according to the invention (Example 2);

Fig. 3C shows a photograph of a cold soluble powder according to the prior art; and

Fig. 4 shows the dissolution behavior of a number of powders prepared according to the invention and a powder according to the prior art.

A method according to the invention is particularly suitable for preparing edible particles. Herein, "edible" is particularly understood to mean "suitable for human consumption", more in particular suitable for use in a food, including beverages, such as for instance in a dairy product, soup or a beverage. Preferred examples of beverages are coffee, ice coffee, chocolate milk, fruit drinks or a cold drink. In a preferred embodiment, the invention relates to the preparation of a creamer, in particular for a soup or beverage, or a foamer, in particular for a beverage, such as cappuccino or another coffee drink provided with a layer of foam. A method according to the invention is favorable with a view to energy consumption. The water taken up by the supercritical medium can be removed by absorption to desiccants (zeolites) and/or condensing of the water from the supercritical medium. The desorption process of the desiccants can take place at relatively high temperatures. The residual heat released in the desorption process can be utilized again. Further, the drying process can take place in more compact equipment, which reduces heat losses to the environment, compared with conventional drying. The total energy saving may be of the order of 500 kJ/kg.

In addition, the method can be carried out in a smaller installation than a conventional spray-drying process. In particular, a smaller precipitation space (drying tower) is sufficient with equal capacity, i.e. an equally large precipitation space has a higher capacity.

The method according to the invention is very suitable to be carried out at a relatively low temperature, in particular a temperature of maximally 100 0 C. This makes the invention also excellently suitable for use on a composition containing a heat-sensitive component.

Further, by means of the invention, it is possible to form the particles in the absence of other solvents than water. In particular, the invention can be carried out without utilizing organic or inorganic solvents which are

undesired, unsuitable or prohibited for use in products for human or animal consumption.

In a preferred embodiment, the aqueous composition is essentially free of organic and inorganic solvents other than water and edible oils (such as vegetable and animal triglyceride oils).

Herein, an edible oil is understood to mean an edible component which is allowed to be present in a product according to the invention. If present, the function of the edible oil is typically primarily to be a component of the particles being formed or dried. If desired, one or more other solvents than water may be present, in particular one or more other solvents which are permissible for a food or food ingredient in the concentration used. Typically, the weight ratio of the total content of organic solvents) and/or the total content of inorganic solvent(s) other than water up to the content of water in the liquid composition is less than 3:2 each, in particular less than 1:1, more in particular maximally 1:2, preferably maximally 1:4.

The total content of solvents other than water and any edible oil present is typically less than 1:1, in particular maximally 1:3, preferably maximally 1:10, most preferably maximally 1:20, maximally 1:99 or maximally 1:1,000.

If the presence of another solvent than water is desired, the ratio is typically at least 1:1,000, at least 1:200 or at least 1:100.

A method according to the invention further offers an advantage with regard to safety. Because a relatively low temperature is sufficient, there is little risk of explosion compared to a conventional spray-drying process. Not needing to use organic solvents also offers advantages in this respect.

By means of the invention, it is possible to adequately control the product properties of the particles and the dried product, respectively. Thus, the particle size distribution can be controlled adequately and, by means of the invention, products can be formed which have good dissolution

2007/050077

properties in water. Compared to products prepared in a conventional manner, it has been found that, by means of the invention, a product is obtainable with a more homogeneous particle size distribution.

The invention also provides a product with a (more) homogeneous composition. Fig. 3C shows a cold soluble powder according to the prior art. In this, lactose crystals are perceivable (1), which have not been taken up into the particles. By means of the invention, it has been found possible to manufacture powders which are at least substantially free of free crystals of the individual ingredients, in particular at least substantially free of free crystals of solid carrier material present in the powder. In particular, it has been found possible to manufacture saccharine powders, such as lactose-containing powders, which are at least substantially free of free sugar crystals, such as lactose crystals.

Of a particulate product according to the invention, in one embodiment, it has been found that it is characterized by a relatively smooth surface and/or a high degree of roundness (sphericity) (see for instance Fig. 3C in comparison). Without wishing to be bound to any theory, it is suspected that the smoothness and/or high degree of roundness contribute to favorable flow properties. It has further been found that particles obtainable by means of the invention have a good solubility, in particular a better solubility (in particular a higher initial dissolution rate) in a solvent, such as water, than particles with a similar composition, prepared in a conventional spray-drying process (see for instance Fig. 4). It has further been found that a product obtainable by means of the invention has a slighter tendency to agglomeration and/or sticking than a conventional spray-dried product.

In one embodiment, a product obtainable by means of the invention contains a gas or a mixture of gases, such as nitrogen or air. Due to the manner of drying, it has been found that the gas is confined in the powder

particle under pressure. Typically, here, it is found that some gas coming from the supercritical medium, such as CO2, is also present in the powder particles. The presence of this gas is determinable by means of a method described in Example 1, while a skilled person knows how to use an alternative for the CO2 sensor, for determining the presence of another gas than CO2. The content of such a gas, based on the total gas content of the product, may be at least 10 wt.%, at least 20 wt.% or at least 40 wt.%.

Since, using the invention, it is not necessary to use other solvents than water (provided that, if desired, edible oil is present which is intended as a component for the particles), it is also possible, using the invention, to provide particles which are essentially free of organic solvents, or at least free of organic solvents which are not suitable for human consumption, or at least free of organic solvents other than edible oils.

"Essentially free" is in particular understood to mean a content of less than 0.1 wt.%, based on the total weight of the particles, more in particular a content of less than 0.01 wt.%, still more particular a content below the detection limit, attainable with a conventional measurement technique such as GC. Where such contents are impermissible on the basis of legal provisions for a particular type of product, such as legislation in the field of foods, the content is typically below the maximum permissible value for such a product, for instance a food.

The invention is further very suitable to be carried out in low-oxygen, in particular essentially oxygen-free, conditions, this in contrast with conventional spray-drying processes. This suppresses conventional oxidation processes. "Low-oxygen" is in particular understood to mean an oxygen concentration of less than 1 vol,% during the contact between the composition and the supercritical medium; "essentially oxygen-free" is in particular understood to mean an oxygen concentration of less than 0.1 vol.% during the contact between the composition and the supercritical medium.

If desired, a method according to the invention may be carried out in a continuous drying installation, for instance in the installation schematically shown in Fig. 1. Therein, the composition, through line 1 using pump 2, and the supercritical medium, through line 4 using pump 3 are fed to nozzle 5. Through nozzle 5,' supercritical medium and composition are led into the precipitation/drying space 6, where supercritical conditions prevail. The formed particles/dried composition (typically also particulate) are then, if desired, with supercritical medium, led to separator 7 where the particles are separated from the supercritical medium. The (supercritical) medium may then be led via a cooler 9 (optional) to the dryer 10 (also optional). Then, the (supercritical) medium may be reused as a desiccant or precipitant, if necessary after temperature and/or pressure increase to realize suitable supercritical conditions.

Fig. 2 shows a different installation in which the method can be carried out batchwise. Therein, the composition 1 is mixed with a gas 10, for instance nitrogen or CO2. Then, composition 1 with the gas 10 and the supercritical medium are led into the drying/precipitation space 6 through the nozzle 5. The supercritical medium is led to condensate tank 13 via cooler 12. After drying of the particles, the gas is drained off there, for instance to the atmosphere, while the particles remain on the bottom of the drying/precipitation space.

Of course, combinations may be made of the parts shown in Fig. 1 and Fig. 2.

As an aqueous composition, a solution of particle-forming components in water or a suspension thereof can be used.

Preferably, the aqueous composition comprises an emulsion. The water content is preferably 10 to 50 wt.% based on the total weight of the composition. The weight ratio of water to particle-forming components may be chosen within the conventional limits, in particular within the range of 20 to 40%.

The composition may be prepared artificially or be a natural product or a fraction thereof, such as milk, colostrum or whey.

In principle, any component forming particles in the supercritical medium may be used. In one embodiment, one or more components are used chosen from the group consisting of bioactive compounds. A method according to the invention is very suitable for preparing particles containing at least one component chosen from the group consisting of lipids (for instance fats), carbohydrates, proteins, peptides, acids, vitamins, flavorings and salts. The preferred components include oils and fats (such as hardened coconut fat); carbohydrates, such as sugars (such as glucose syrup and lactose), starch; emulsifiers (such as monostearate), salts of phosphates, peptides and proteins (such as caseinate). To the composition, one or more auxiliary substances may be added, such as an auxiliary substance chosen from the group consisting of gases, emulsifiers, solid carrier materials (such as a sugar, starches, proteins and silica).

In particular for preparing foam-building particles, i.e. particles which foam upon dissolving in a suitable solvent (such as water or an aqueous mixture), a gas can be added to the composition. This gas can then be encapsulated during the formation of the particles. Suitable gases are, for instance, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and mixtures thereof. The quantity of gas is typically chosen in a ratio of gas to aqueous composition (without the gas) within the range of 0.01 to 4 w/w% or 0.1-4 w/w%. Such a method is, for instance, very suitable for making a foamer for a beverage, such as coffee. As a supercritical medium, in principle, any supercritical medium may be used in which the particle-forming component at least substantially does not dissolve. Typically, water does dissolve at least partly in the supercritical medium.

Very suitable as a supercritical medium are carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide, which may be used alone or in combination. It is surprising

that such media are suitable for removing water, since they are not very hydrophilic. These media are excellently suitable for the preparation of a food or food ingredient.

Supercritical NH3 is also suitable, as are - particularly for applications outside food technology - supercritical organic hydrocarbons such as methane, ethane, ethane, propane, propene, n-butane, i-butane and n-pentane; alcohols such as benzyl alcohol, methanol, ethanol, (iso)propanol, (iso)butanol, halogenated compounds such as chlorotrifiuoromethane, monofluoromethane; cyclic hydrocarbons such as toluene, pyridine, cyclohexane, cyclohexanol and o-xylene. Supercritical points thereof are known, for instance from EP 744922 Bl.

Herein, "particle" is understood to mean a material which is molecularly dissolved in neither the supercritical medium nor the water. In particular, the "particle" is wholly or partly solid or in gel form. Particles may be massive, hollow or porous.

In the case of hollow particles, the particle may comprise a solid outside surrounding a gas or liquid. Examples of such particles are, for instance, oil particles surrounded by a capsule from a solid material and cappuccino foamers, which particles comprise encapsulated gas, typically with a pressure higher than the atmospheric pressure.

In the case of porous particles, the particle may comprise a solid matrix and pores filled with a gas or a liquid. Examples of such particles are, for instance, porous particles whose pores contain an oil and cappuccino foamers, where the pores are filled with a gas, typically with a pressure higher than the atmospheric pressure. The particle size may be set within wide limits. Preferably, the volume-average particle size, as determined by means of laser diffraction, is within the range of 1 to 200 μm, more preferably within the range of 1 to 40 μm.

Contacting aqueous composition and supercritical medium preferably comprises atomizing the composition. To this end, the spraying of at least

the composition in a precipitation chamber, which space has a temperature and pressure above the critical point, is suitable.

Spraying in the precipitation, chamber may take place from the bottom, the top, the side or a combination thereof. For obtaining a product in which the particles are agglomerated to a relatively slight extent, spraying from the top has been found very suitable.

Very suitable is a method where the composition is mixed with supercritical medium and is then sprayed in a precipitation space, which space has a temperature and pressure above the critical point. Good results for spraying the composition in the precipitation space have particularly been achieved with a nozzle with two inlets and one outlet (a T-nozzle), such as a concentric nozzle for two liquids, where one of the inlets serves for the aqueous composition and the other for the supercritical medium. The temperature of the supercritical medium during the particle-forming contact with the composition may be chosen within a wide range. The temperature is minimally the temperature corresponding to the critical point of the supercritical medium. With a view to an increased drying capacity, the temperature is preferably at least 5°C above the critical point, more preferably at least 15°C above the critical point, most preferably at a temperature of at least 20 0 C above the critical point.

With a view to the heat load on the particles, the material from which the particle is prepared (in particular if a heat-sensitive component is present) and/or the energy consumption, the temperature is preferably maximally 100 0 C during the contact between the supercritical medium and the aqueous composition. Good results with regard to preventing or at least reducing thermal degradation reactions have been obtained with a temperature of maximally 80 0 C, in particular maximally 70 0 C, more in particular maximally 60 0 C.

The pressure of the supercritical medium during the particle-forming contact with the composition may be chosen within a wide range. The pressure is minimally the pressure corresponding to the critical point of the supercritical medium. With a view to a favorable drying capacity, the pressure is preferably at least 25 bar above the critical point, more preferably at least 50 bar above the critical point, most preferably at least 75 bar above the critical point.

The pressure is typically 500 bar during the contact between the supercritical medium and the aqueous composition, although higher pressures may be used if desired. Very suitable is a pressure of maximally 200 bar.

The contact time of supercritical medium and the composition in supercritical conditions can be set within wide limits, depending on the type of process and the desired product. Typically, a contact time of 1200 seconds or less is sufficient, in particular for continuous preparation. The contact time is typically at least 1 second. For practical reasons, the contact time in supercritical conditions is typically maximally about 5 minutes, preferably maximally about 1 minute, in particular with continuous preparation.

Of a method where the contact time is about 45 minutes or more, it has been found that the particles have a particularly high integrity.

After formation of the particles, these are typically separated from the supercritical medium. With a view to keeping the particles dry, here, preferably supercritical conditions are maintained for the medium, although it is in principle also possible to have medium transfer to the gas phase. Suitable separation steps comprise filtering and separation using a cyclone.

The supercritical medium (whether or not transferred to the gas phase) can then be reused, after water has been removed therefrom. The removal of water preferably takes place by drying using a zeolite, silica or other solid desiccant. Because these desiccants can be used at a relatively low temperature, application thereof also offers energetic advantages. The

invention will now be explained on the basis of the following examples, namely: cappuccino foamer and cold soluble powder.

The invention further relates to a continuous method, comprising preparing particles from a liquid composition which further comprises a component to form the particles from, while the composition is contacted with a supercritical medium in continuous-process conditions under pressure.

The invention further relates to a continuous method for drying aqueous composition, comprising the removal of water from the composition, while the composition is contacted with a supercritical medium in continuous-process conditions under pressure.

In a continuous method where the particle formation and the drying, respectively, take place using a supercritical medium, a method as described hereinabove is particularly suitable. In a preferred continuous method according to the invention, the particles are mixed with the supercritical medium under pressure, and then the mixture is sprayed, while the pressure may be lowered if desired.

The temperature and pressure of the mixture prior to spraying are at or above supercritical conditions. The pressure and temperature in the precipitation space in which spraying takes place are preferably supercritical.

As a nozzle, a (conventional) nozzle may be used which is suitable for spraying compositions under the pressure in the supply line to the nozzle.

The invention will now be explained on the basis of the following examples.

Example 1: Cappuccino foamer:

Experiment description:

Two cappuccino foamers were produced in an installation as shown in Fig. 2. Nitrogen gas was mixed with the emulsion in line prior to the dosing of the emulsion liquid to the drying vessel. The emulsion and CO2 were introduced into the drying vessel via a two-fluid nozzle. The process temperature of the drying vessel was 52°C and 6O 0 C, respectively, with the production of the cappuccino foamers.

The pressure in the drying vessel was about 190 bar. The functionality of the powder was evaluated by means of a foaming test, where a quantity of powder was moistened with water and the height of the resulting foam layer was measured.

Results and conclusions:

In Fig. 3A, a SEM photograph of the thus produced cappuccino foamer is shown. It is visible that the powders formed are spherical and have a certain degree of homogeneity.

Table 1: Foaming test results of two cappuccino foamers produced by means of the described process.

The CO2 content was determined by mixing 0.1 gram of foamer with 1 ml of water in a tube with a capacity of 5 ml and determining the CO2 and the O2 content in the air in the tube with a CO2 and O2 sensor. From this, it

can be calculated how much gas in total and how much CO2 is released from a powder.

Example 2: Cold soluble powder

Experiment description:

An emulsion (produced according to the classical agitation and homogenization technique) was sprayed with CCfoby a nozzle at a process temperature of 6O 0 C in a high-pressure vessel (175 bar). The process is schematically shown in Pig. 2. The emulsion and the CO2 were injected by means of a concentric two-fluid nozzle. A displacement pump pumped the emulsion into the vessel. The emulsion was at room temperature. The powder was collected on a filter in the vessel. SEM photographs were made of the produced cold soluble powders.

Table 2: Process conditions used in the production of cold soluble powder

Experimental results:

The obtained powder is fairly liquid, that is to say that the emulsion drops are encapsulated well. The obtained cold soluble powder particles are round (Fig- 3B). This is a fundamental difference from the spray-drying technique where the produced powders are characterized by the presence of rough polydisperse and crystalline particles.

The dissolution behavior of the produced cold soluble powders was characterized with the obscuration signal of Malvern laser diffraction measuring equipment. Fig. 4 shows the obscuration signal as a function of time. Fig. 4 shows that cold soluble powder according to the invention has a better dissolution behavior than the Vana Blanca 31 A produced through spray-drying process (Vana Blanca 31 A, available through Kievit, NL). The fact is that Fig. 4 shows a higher dissolution rate in the first seconds for the products according to the invention.