Formation of hierarchically structured, fibrous materials from dairy protein


Dairy industry is facing many challenges in the marketplace. Consumers are becoming more health conscious and more discriminating in their purchases. Besides, imitation dairy products with desirable flavor and textural characteristics hit dairy market. Dairy industry is looking for new products with attractive texture to retain the consumer acceptance they have enjoyed in the past. The application of well-defined flow appears to good tool to create a pronounced fibrous structure. After shearing and crosslinking using Transglutaminase, anisotropic fibrous structures were formed in a dense calcium caseinate (CaCas) matrix on the macroscale and the microscale. The resulting fibrous structure can be turned into a promising basis for a meat substitute.

Concentrated CaCas dispersions can be structured into a pronounced fibrous materials by using a combination of deformation and solidification. However, the mechanism of fibre formation is not yet fully understood.  Therefore, this project aim to provide scientific insights that can lead to design rules for the formation of hierarchically structured protein rich materials.


The relevant characteristics of CaCas dispersions will be studied to make the dispersion susceptible for shear induced structuring. To do so, we will vary the protein concentration and solvent quality and compare the behaviour of CaCas dispersions with polymer systems. New techniques, such as NMR and SANS will also be developed to probe structures at relevant length scale in dense protein system, preferably online. Next to ingredients properties, the processing window used to induce the fibrous structure will be broadened in terms of shear rate and processing time. Besides experimental insight, the acquired knowledge will be applied in developing numerical models to describe the structure formation of dense protein dispersions as function of interactions, concentration and deformation.

BSc / MSc Thesis

If you are interested in this project, please do not hesitate to contact me.