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24, chemin de Borde Rouge -Auzeville - CS52627 31326 Castanet Tolosan cedex - France

Last update: May 2021

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Materials, Creation & behavior (MC2)

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Team leader:  Denis Lourdin

Permanent team members:

Laurent Chaunier, Guy Della Valle, Kamal Kansou, Magdalena Kristiawan, Denis Lourdin, Jean-Eudes MaigretAnne-Laure Réguerre

PhD Students:  Anaïs Lescher, Maud Dufour

Thesis defended recently: Yuzi Wang (2022), Imen Jebalia (2020), Mélissa Assad-Bustillos (2019), Laurent Chaunier (2019), Veronica Nessi (2019), Héliciane Clément (2018), Pauline Savourat-Faucard (2018)


Context and objectives

Whether they come from cereals or other major crops, many food or non-food products, or even intermediates (grains...), are presented in the form of alveolar and composite solids (bread, cookies, breakfast cereals, films, and biodegradable objects...). Most of these products contain a large proportion of starch and/or protein. The design of their properties of use requires the control of their elaboration and their conservation.

schéma MC2

The objectives of the team are:

  • To understand the behavior, especially mechanical, of composite solids or solid foam walls,  in relation to natural (biosynthesis, in vitro enzymatic synthesis...) or industrial (cooking, thermo-forming, extrusion...) processes, of setting up the structures at different scales
  • To model the mechanisms that govern the development and behavior of cereal-based alveolar solids, in order to predict their texture and the modifications (process, formulation) required for their design.

The fields of application concern cereal foods and their fate in the digestive tract as well as materials for which starch or reserve proteins can provide properties of interest, not only in the food sector, as an ingredient, but also in the biomedical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and paper sectors, and even in any sector where the use of biomass is a priority.

Research lines

Axis 1: The shaping and behavior of composite materials

From biopolymer shaping processes such as extrusion, thermo-molding, and more recently 3D printing, we work on the design and creation of assemblies, new structures, or morphologies to achieve targeted and adaptable properties.
For example, we are conducting research on the design of macroscopic objects by 3D printing for the delivery of an active molecule encapsulated in a zein matrix. Another project of the team focuses on the incorporation of Pickering emulsions into starch-based materials for the development of phase change composites.

Axis 2: Development and destructuring of solid foams

We are conducting research on starch-based solid foams as cell support for bone regeneration in collaboration with the Inserm B3OA laboratory. The aim is to design the structure of these foams for the controlled release, in the presence of enzyme, of glucose necessary for cell growth according to the density and porous structure of the foam, the crystallinity, the amylose/amylopectin ratio of the starch.

We are also working on the construction and deconstruction of extruded feeds based on protein crops (peas, faba beans). The objective is to design new feeds satisfying a compromise between consumer acceptability and nutritional and digestibility characteristics. The approach is based on the study of the impact of high protein enrichment of legumes on the structure of extruded feeds at different scales and on the study of the deconstruction of extruded feeds in the digestive tract. The aims of the project will be: (1) to understand the mechanisms that determine the fate of these high protein feeds in the digestive tract, (2) to optimize the extrusion conditions in order to elaborate optimal quality feeds, i.e. having a texture adapted to mastication, a high digestibility of proteins while reducing the glycemic index.

Axis 3: Assessment of the overall quality of food and materials

The assessment of the quality of food or agro-materials depends on the nature of the product considered and the purpose of the assessment. It can be based on data, technological expertise, and/or sensory assessments. To assess quality, our team implements experimental approaches coupled with modeling based on data analysis, physical modeling, or knowledge integration. Thus, "medium throughput" methods coupled with multivariate analysis allow the identification of starch products with desired degradation properties. Analyses of wheat flour coupled with modeling will allow the prediction of dough behaviour during bread making, and an ontology (computer model) will allow the specification of food texture appreciated by consumers.

Methods and equipments

  • Image acquisition and analysis: determination of the texture of the crumb and the crust of the bread
  • Thermal and thermomechanical analysis (DMA)
  • Experimental furnace including oven and instrumented kneading machines
  • Mechanical measurements: traction/compression, micro-mechanical bench, and texture evaluation by coupling with acoustic acquisition
  • Mechanical modeling by finite elements
  • Laboratory scale transformation processes (extrusion, presses...)
  • Rheometry of large capillary deformations, uniaxial compression under lubricated conditions
  • X-ray diffraction at large and small angles, electron microscopy, and diffraction
  • Liquid chromatography techniques; ion chromatography, steric exclusion chromatography (SEC), hydrodynamic chromatography (HDC), Asymmetrical Field Flow Fractionation (A4F), and static and dynamic light scattering
  • Solid state NMR (BIBS platform), polysaccharide crystallogenesis
  • Use of synchrotron radiation (ESRF, Soleil)