Nanoencapsulation of bioactive compounds and natural antimicrobials


The production of nanocapsules as delivery system of nutraceutical compounds, natural antimicrobials or flavors, allows the incorporation of these compounds in foods that do not naturally belong, functionalizing them with new health properties or aromatic characteristics or prolonging their shelf life.

The nanocapsules are able to protect the active compounds from the interaction with other ingredients, minimizing the impact on the food itself, maintaining the effectiveness of the active ingredients and promoting their transport to the sites of action.



Technological field


Production of nanocapsules for the functionalization of foods with flavors, nutraceuticals and antimicrobials.



Principle of operation


The nanoemulsions are produced by an appropriate formulation of a primary emulsion (choice of the system water-oil-emulsifier), in which the active ingredient is immobilized, and the following reduction of the emulsion to nanometric size by means of high pressure homogenization. The primary emulsion, under the effect of high pressure (up to 350 MPa), is forced to pass through a disruption valve specifically designed, where, due to cavitation, turbulence, shear stress and pressure gradients, is reduced to the desired size.



Technical sheet


The nanocapsules for food applications consist of emulsions in the nanometric scale, constituted preferably by a natural emulsifier and a lipid phase also of natural origin, in which the active compounds are incorporated.

The know-how of ProdAl includes the theoretical knowledge of the high pressure homogenization process, the theoretical and empirical knowledge concerning the formulation of emulsions, the availability of predictive models and previous studies on the interaction of nanocapsules with certain food matrices, the study and characterization of the bioactivity of the encapsulated compounds and the development of an optimized production process that can be easily scaled at the industrial level.



Technological benchmark vs state of the art


In Europe and the United States the production of nanocapsules for the functionalization of food is a subject of intense study and research both academic and industrial. Compared to currently available technology, which involves the use of capsules of micrometer scale, the encapsulation at the nanoscale offers significant competitive advantages. For example in the field of beverages, the use of nanocapsules allows to incorporate active ingredients such as antioxidants, flavors, or antimicrobials in an efficient manner without compromising the transparency of the product or its organoleptic properties.

Some industrial applications of nanoencapsulation are already currently commercially available. However, there are no universal encapsulation systems, due to the different stability of the capsules as a function of the bioactive compound and of the composition of the food and its processing and storage. Therefore, it is necessary the development of the formulation and preparation and conduct of studies on the activity and stability of the nanocapsules according to the type of food and bioactive compound of interest.




  • Use of natural ingredients.
  • Minimum impact on the food for its functionalization.
  • Simplicity of the plant for the production of nanocapsules.
  • Easy industrial scalability.
  • Limited cost of the process.
  • 1:100 ratio between the quantity of nanocapsules produced and product which can be functionalized.
  • Production of foods with high added value.



  • Need for development of the nanoencapsulation system case by case.
  • Higher cost of the finished product.
  • Need to complete the production cycle with incorporation systems of the finished product.


Stage of development of ProdAl


The technology is at the stage of pre-competitive development. The prototyping and the subsequent industry technology transfer requires time and modest investments for the simplicity of the technology.

ProdAl has developed its know-how on the screening of the ingredients, physical and chemical characterization of the stability of bioactive compounds and their bioavailability, rapid formulation and production by high pressure homogenization (in the next figure is shown in orange the stage of development of ProdAl research in this technology).




ProdAl has also developed some demonstration systems, with their formulations, for the incorporation of nutraceuticals (resveratrol, curcumin), flavors (limonene) and antimicrobials (essential oils) in beverages. Therefore, it is able to offer assistance in the development of new ingredients on-demand.





Companies in the beverage sector, dairy, canning, baking products.



Forms of collaboration

  • Agreements for the prototyping and the market launch of new functional products, with a view to partnership in the production of nanocapsules.
  • Consulting for the formulation of the nanoencapsulation systems of active compounds (nutraceuticals, flavors or natural antimicrobials) in novel products or already on the market.
  • Consultations on the industrial exploitation of the technology with impact on research activities.


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