Biotech firm Fluid Technologies, based in the North West of England, has launched its micro-encapsulation technology Micap to the food ingredients market.

Micap is a patented technology based around the encapsulation of liquid active ingredients using the natural wall of yeast cells to provide a protection against evaporation, extrusion, oxidation and light, as well as providing an easy to use concentrated fine powder. 

The company says that micro-encapsulation of active ingredients has application across a broad range of industries, and various technologies have been used for a number of years in the cosmetic and agro-chemical industries. There are a number of technologies used in the food ingredient industry, where the encapsulation of ingredients is used for a number of reasons, for instance to protect volatile flavours during processing, or to improve shelf-life and stability or even to improve handling during production.

There are still shortcomings, said Fluid Technologies, "solubility is can be an issue, as some encapsulates will not stay in tact in aqueous environments or some encapsulates are not robust enough to with stand high temperatures and pressure". In addition "many are not considered natural, in a market place where the pressure to provide food that is less processed and close to nature has become so essential".
However, the company insists that there are still many advantages to Micap micro-encapsulated products. For example, in the protection of heat-sensitive flavours from manufacturing processes to temperatures at least 200°C. They also protect of flavours from oxygen and light, enabling products to have longer shelf lives as the flavours would normally suffer atmospheric loss and oxidative degradation. 

There are significant concentration benefits in comparison to other technologies, as Micap is capable of encapsulating high levels of some flavours, up to 60%, although the average is 30% w/w.

In addition, Fluid Technologies points to the handling properties, as they are powdered products, and the reduction in essential oil content by up to 50% to achieve the same degree of flavour perception. And flavour release over a sustained period giving a long lasting effect.