‘Emulsion’ is one of the many terms that I learned from a food chemistry paper in my undergraduate study. Back then I was not aware that emulsion is the basis of many food products which influence our daily life. Food emulsions are used to deliver nutrients such as carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. In daily life we don’t often use the word ’emulsion’ but we do often consume emulsifiers, in food like milk, vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, whipped cream, ice cream, butter and margarine. Emulsion technology development is all about enhancing nutritional value, as well as improving taste and flavour in foods and beverages.
My interest in emulsion started when I worked as a product developer on edible oil products. I was astonished by the physics and chemistry on the formation of an emulsion. For examples, the mixing procedure can have almost no impact in some emulsions while in another instance, the emulsion can separate into oil and water within minutes. Emulsifiers, a minor component in the emulsion, can significantly influence the formation of emulsion and its appearance. However, the role and function of emulsifiers are often vague and dependent on the type of emulsifier. Even after spending a few years creating emulsifiers and using them to make emulsions, I still didn’t understand how emulsifiers work. About three years ago, I felt that I needed to take a break from work and do a PhD to obtain a deeper and more fundamental understanding about what happens during the formation of emulsions.