Relevant time and length scales for mechanical behaviour in protein-based systems

laurence pouvreau 90

Project leader: Dr Laurice Pouvreau
Time frame: 2011 – 2014
Project code: FS001
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Proteins are biopolymers with a unique functional behaviour. Exchangeability of protein sources is not immediately possible but, from the goal of sustainable production, it is highly desired. The aim of this project is to increase our knowledge of molecular-microstructure-texture relationships and understand the specificity that selected classes of plant and animal proteins might provide in food structuring.


The approach is based on identifying relationships between molecular properties, aggregation behaviour, microstructural characteristics and material characteristics at a macroscopic scale. The material properties referred to are gel-breakdown characteristics focussing on the balance between the non-dissipated energy (measured as stored energy) in the matrix, and the dissipated energies used for fracture events or dissipated (predominantly) via serum flow (inversely proportional to the amount of water trapped in a protein network undergoing deformation). These aspects of the energy balance are relevant for texture-related properties such as crumbliness or spreadability and sensory perception such as juiciness.

The research effort boils down to understanding time and length scales in protein-based gel systems. Following this approach we map the effects of proteins at different length and time scales by analysing the macroscopic and microscopic properties of different systems in the same manner. Our goal is to understand what is fundamentally different between animal and plant proteins and the type of gels they yield.

Vegetarian protein

Recent publications

Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Electrophoretic behavior in relation to the structural integrity of codfish parvalbumin upon heat treatment  view summary
Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Relation between gel stiffness and water holding for coarse and fine-stranded protein gels  view summary
Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Permeability of gels is set by the impulse applied on the gel  view summary
Scientific papers in peer-reviewed journals 2015 Characterizing length scales that determine the mechanical behavior of gels from crosslinked casein micelles  view summary