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First semester
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Learning outcomes of the course unit

At the end of the class, the students would acquire the ability of applying the acquired knowledge and understanding to the study of the structure and physical properties of foods and to the main production and preservation processes.
At the end of the class, the student must be able to show:
1. knowledge and understanding by:
- using the specific language of the Physical Chemistry and the correct terminology;
- showing knowledge and understanding of the principles, foundations of the Physical Chemistry, notably about classical thermodynamics, applied to the chemical reactions, to the foods and to the biological systems for understanding the main machinery related to food preservation and production and the basics of the main techniques for studying the structure and physical properties of foods, transport processes, explained by means of non-equilibrium thermodynamics models, and their importance in food processes, stability of the colloidal systems and their involvement in the food field;
2. applying knowledge and understanding by:
- applying the knowledge to the study of chemical processes in food area by means of chemico-physical techniques, in order to verify their feasibility and optimization;
- dealing with the experimental data by means of models;
3. communication skills by:
- communicating the results of scientific studies also to a non-expert audience;
- writing a formal document, understandable and appropriate for the professional context;
- transferring his intuitions and analysis to the working group by using the specific language of the Physical Chemistry and the correct terminology;
4. making judgements by:
- evaluating with a critical attitude the soundness of the chemico-physical models used in the analysis of the experimental data;
5. learning skills by:
- studying in a self-governing way;
- updating his knowledge by reading basic and advanced books and consulting the scientific publications in the field;
- connecting the different subject treated in the class with the disciplines studied in the year after.


No preliminary examinations are requested.

Course contents summary

The aim of the module is knowledge and understanding of the principles underlying physical processes and chemical reactions, by means of models, peculiarity of the Physical Chemistry. The first part of the module is devoted to the equilibrium thermodynamics with special reference to food science (water activity, food phase diagrams, etc.).
The second part deals with non-equilibrium thermodynamics and transport processes, particularly those involved in food processing and preservation ( viscosity, diffusion, sedimentation).
The third part is connected with the colloidal systems and with their stability, particularly as far as the food systems are concerned.

Course contents

1. Equilibrium thermodynamics applied to chemical, biological and food systems with a statistical thermodynamics outline. Variables and state functions. The laws of thermodynamics. The temperature and pressure dependence of thermodynamic quantities. Thermochemistry. Calorimetry. Outline of statistical Thermodynamics. Exercises.
2. Changes of state: physical transformations of pure substances. Phase diagrams. Clapeyron and Clausius-Clapeyron equations. Gibbs phase rule
3. Changes of state: physical transformations of simple mixtures. Open systems and partial molar quantities. Ideal and real solutions. Raoult and Henry laws. Fugacity and activity. The water activity in foods and food preservation. Regular solutions. Ideal mixing and excess functions. Phase equilibria in binary systems. Fractional distillation. Azeotropes, eutectic, partially miscible liquids, binary mixtures compounds forming. Phase transition in food materials. The glassy state and the glass transition.
4. Solutions of macromolecules. Solvent chemical potential. Colligative properties. Osmotic pressure. Molecular weight measurements. Membrane equilibria. Dialysis equilibrium. Donnan equilibrium.
5. Equilibria of chemical reactions. Thermodynamics of chemical equilibrium. Gibbs free energy and equilibrium constant. Activity and ionic strength. Exergonic and endergonic reactions. Coupled reactions.
6. Non-equilibrium thermodynamics and transport processes. Order out of caos. Force and flow. Phenomenological equations. Theorems. Onsager law. Dissipation function. Steady state concept. Mobility of the ions in solution. Electrophoresis. Diffusion. Sedimentation. Viscosity.
7. Colloidal Systems. Dispersed systems. Size and shape of colloidal particles. Ostwald classification. Surface tension and surface free energy. Van de Waals forces. Lennard-Jones potential. Intermolecular forces in colloidal systems. DLVO theory. Hydrophobic interactions, hydrophobic hydration and Hydrophobic effect : model for the interpretation. Structure and classification of surfactants. Micelle formation. Casein Micelles. Emulsifiers and stabilizers in foods. Cohesion and adhesion work, spreading coefficient, wettability. Ostwald ripening. Gibbs isotherm. Laplace pressure. The most common food colloids: Emulsions, foams, dispersions and suspensions, gels. Methods of preparation. Examples: beer, whipped cream, ice-cream, meringue, butter, mayonnaise. Natural emulsions: milk, eggs, oleosomes, and stabilization methods used by the nature. Marangoni effect. Physico-chemical properties of a food colloid. Micro-emulsions. Lyotropic and thermotropic liquid crystals.

Recommended readings

- J. N. Coupland, An Introduction to the Physical Chemistry of Food, Springer, New York (2014)
- P. Walstra, Physical Chemistry of Foods, Marcel Dekker, Inc, New York (2003)
- P. W. Atkins, J. De Paula, Elementi di Chimica Fisica, quarta edizione italiana, Zanichelli, Bologna, 2018.
- P. Atkins, J. De Paula, Chimica Fisica Biologica 1 e 2, Zanichelli editore, Bologna (2008).
- E. Dickinson, M. Leser, Food Colloids - Self-Assembly and Material Science, RCS Publishing, 2006.

Teaching methods

Lectures are carried out face to face. Some lectures recorded in advance are also made available to the students through the Elly platform of the course. If the pandemic situation is still lasting, distance learning by live streamed lectures, via Teams platform, will be active, too. During lectures, done by means of computer ppt presentations, available to the students before classes in the web site (ELLY) of the class, general topics related to the use of chemico-physical models for studying food and biological systems will be discussed. Lectures will be implemented by means of problem solving and “question time” like activities in order to maximize the understanding level of the students. ELLY slides, as well the associated videos, are integral part of the teaching material.

Assessment methods and criteria

If it is possible face to face teaching, to verify the achievement of the expected expertises, during teaching activity the students can take two written “in itinere” tests with open questions. One hour is available for each test. The exam is passed if the average mark is equal or greater than 18/30 and no mark of the “in itinere” tests is under 16/30. The results of the “in itinere” tests are published on Elly platform. For the students unable to pass at least one “in itinere” test, there is a written examination during scheduled examination sections (seven open questions in two hours). Otherwise, if distance examination through Teams platform must be performed, there is only an oral examination on the whole syllabus during scheduled examination sections (without “in itinere” tests).The obtained marks will contribute to the final result for the exam of the class of “Structure and Physical Properties of Food”, being the final mark the average between the marks obtained in the two modules constituting the class.
In case of pandemic restriction, “in itinere” tests will be administered at distance on the ELLY platform with the same procedures above described.