Comparison between the dissolution of whey protein gels and of synthetic polymers

Ruben Mercadé-Prieto, William R. Paterson, D. Ian Wilson

Research output: Indexed journal article Articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The dissolution behavior of heat-induced whey protein gels in alkali is compared with the literature on the dissolution of (1) uncrosslinked synthetic polymers with chemical reaction, (2) uncrosslinked polymers in a good solvent, and (3) crosslinked hydrogels. Diffusion of hydroxide and acid-base reactions, which are key processes in the dissolution of phenolic resins in alkali (Case 1), are found not to be very important with protein gels. The strong dependency of the dissolution rate on the free volume observed in protein gels is described by a large scaling factor, as predicted for Case 2 theory, indicating that the disentanglement of long chains before they are released is important. The cleavage of intermolecular crosslinks, which is important in Case 3, is also identified as a key dissolution step, where the complexity of protein chemistry comes into play. Synthetic polymer mechanisms are therefore able to elucidate several aspects of protein gel dissolution, but are not yet sufficient to explain all aspects of the process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1021
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Polymer Science, Part B: Polymer Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biopolymers
  • Degradation
  • Dissolution
  • Gelation
  • Hydrogels
  • Proteins
  • β-lactoglobulin


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