Microencapsulation is a power tool from Bioencaptulation Research Group for solving process challenges and building innovations.
Life is obviously based on biochemistry; however, this does not work until biochemicals are encapsulated in cell membranes. Cell membranes immobilises bioactive material; isolates and protects it from the surroundings; controls the mass transfer in and out; and creates it function.
Microcapsules are generally not a final product, and customers are often unaware that many products on the market are improved or developed using them. Carbonless paper, scratch-and-sniff perfume advertising, auto-blocking screws, frozen pizza, artificial organs, foods fortified with probiotics, continuous enzyme reactors and modern laundry capsules are just a few examples of commercial products based on microencapsulation.
Process engineers and product designers aim to successfully develop microcapsules that are as powerful and efficient as biological cells. However, even though microencapsulation principles are often simple, development is related to several scientific disciplines, including chemistry, physics and engineering. Moreover, a real understanding of their applications; properties of the actives; how to treat actives; suitable microcapsule structure; microcapsule size and size dispersion; storage conditions; and an accurate release process to deliver functionality are only some of the problems that have to be understood to ensure success. When a microencapsulation technique is developed in the lab, it must then be transferred to an industrial process, which involves scale-up, cost and energy optimisation, and process control. Very little data exists for realising the engineering part.
That complexity led to the creation of the Bioencapsulation Research Group (BRG) in 1991. In order to gather different actors in an place of exchange, BRG brought together 70 researchers and students in 1991, and, today, has 7,000 contacts in over 80 countries. BRG organises three to four events a year, including scientific conferences, training schools and industrial conventions. The microencapsulation industrial convention is a combination of lectures from experts, business-to-business meetings and state-of-the-art showcases presenting R&D services, equipment, tools, material, chemicals and established techniques.