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Cellulose Gel / Dispersible Grades

Avicel® colloidal MCC is processed by wet mechanical disintegration (attrition) which breaks up the cellulose aggregates to release the microcrystals. Traditionally, the microcrystals are then co-processed with a hydrophilic barrier dispersant, to keep the microcrystals from reaggregating during the drying process. The dispersants used have included water soluble hydrocolloids such as carboxymethylcellulose, alginate or xanthan gum.

The unique functional properties of fully dispersed Avicel colloidal MCC will greatly improve the mouthfeel and impart or enhance fat-like properties in food products. It also imparts emulsion stability, opacity and suspension in a variety of products.

The family of Avicel products began to evolve in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when FMC BioPolymer patented its process of producing Novagel® MCC. The Novagel MCC line of products consists of MCC and guar. They mimic the rheological properties of fat and provide exceptional fat-like eating qualities in processed foods.

More recently, FMC BioPolymer has perfected processing technology that allows the microcrystals to be co-dried with other functional ingredients, such as calcium and surfactants. These Avicel-plus®  products are unlike the traditional Avicel MCC in that they offer other unique properties, such as improved rheological properties, minimal viscosity with excellent suspension, calcium fortification, enhanced sensory properties and positive modification in the overall flavor profile of the finished product. These properties can be further enhanced with the use of a traditional Avicel MCC or other stabilizer or emulsifier.

Cellulose Colloidal Grades Figure 3

Avicel® colloidal MCC is either bulk-dried or spray-dried, to form distinct microcrystalline particles. The functionality of colloidal Avicel MCC is due to the properties imparted by these particles when properly dispersed in water or a liquid medium.

Traditional Avicel Colloidal MCC: Properties and Functionality

Properly dispersed Avicel colloidal MCC sets up into a 3-dimensional network of these colloidal particles which imparts stability in the finished product; the system is held together by weak hydrogen bonding.

The Avicel dispersion chemically binds water to a much lesser extent than soluble hydrocolloids (although some water is bound to the soluble hydrocolloid associated with Avicel, e.g. CMC), as shown in Figure 4 . The formation of this insoluble 3-dimensional matrix creates a physical network that affects the movement of moisture and gives the colloidal grades of MCC their functional properties.

Cellulose Colloidal Grades Figure 4