The conventional process of lactose crystallization is prolonged, hardly controllable and the crystals have low quality. In this work, the effect of ultrasound on the crystallization of lactose in an aqueous system was assessed. Additionally, it was studied how the presence of whey proteins (which are a common impurity) and κ-carrageenan (that possess high water-binding capacity) could modify the process of lactose crystallization. Lactose solutions at 25% were sonicated in a continuous flow chamber at two different energy densities (9 and 50 J mL-1) before the start of crystallization. Some of these lactose solutions were previously added with κ-carrageenan (0, 150 and 300 mg L-1), with whey proteins (0.64%) or with both at the same time. Ultrasound sped up the rate of crystallization, decreased the crystal's size and narrowed the crystal size distribution (CSD). The presence of whey proteins accelerated the process of crystallization but induced the formation of amorphous lactose. Likewise, the rate of lactose crystallization was improved by the addition of 150 mg L-1 of carrageenan. Whereas, the combination of carrageenan and whey proteins generated the smallest crystals (6 μm), the narrowest CSD and minimized the formation of amorphous lactose.
Keywords: Carrageenan; Lactose crystallization; Ultrasound; Whey proteins.
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