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Keywords:

  • critical relative humidity;
  • DSC;
  • DVS;
  • glass transition temperature;
  • isotherm;
  • polydextrose

Abstract:  Recent research has demonstrated that the critical relative humidity (RHc) values, obtained using automatic water vapor sorption instruments, can be used to detect the glassy to rubbery transition. However, reported time dependency of these RHc values suggests that additional research be carried out using equilibrium water vapor sorption methods. Thus, the objectives of this study were to: (1) determine the RHc for amorphous polydextrose at various temperatures using both instrumental (Dynamic Vapor Sorption [DVS] ramping and equilibrium) and saturated salt slurry methods, and (2) compare the RHc values obtained via sorption methods to the glass transition temperature (Tg) values obtained via differential scanning calorimetry (DSC). When plotted as a “glass curve” on a state diagram, the RHc values (plotted as a function of temperature) were found to be similar to the Tg values (plotted as a function of relative humidity). Of the 3 sorption methods employed, at 25 °C, the saturated salt slurry exhibited the lowest RHc value (34.3%), followed by the DVS equilibrium method (41.7%), and the DVS ramping method (49.9%). The RHc DVS equilibrium method was closest to the calculated DSC Tg onset RHc value (41.6% at 25 °C). These water sorption methods show promise as practical tools for predicting the quality and stability attributes of amorphous materials by being able to routinely determine the location of the glassy to rubbery transition. Future research applying these sorption methods to more complex amorphous food systems is suggested.

Practical Application:  Despite its extreme usefulness, the Tg, a key element of the Food Polymer Science approach, remains a challenging parameter to routinely measure in amorphous food materials. Recent research has demonstrated that the RHc values can be used to detect the glassy to rubbery transition. However, reported time dependency of these RHc values suggests that additional research be carried out using equilibrium water vapor sorption methods. Therefore, in this research 2 instrumental (DVS ramping and equilibrium) methods and the traditional saturated salt slurry method were used to obtain RHc values, comparing them to DSC obtained Tg values. The water sorption methods show promise as practical tools for predicting the quality and stability attributes of amorphous materials by being able to routinely determine the location of the glassy to rubbery transition. Future research applying these sorption methods to more complex amorphous food systems is suggested.