Unraveling the Influences of Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium on the Crystallization Behavior of Lactose

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Wijayasinghe, Rangani ORCID: 0000-0002-9890-7254, Vasiljevic, Todor ORCID: 0000-0003-1395-7349 and Chandrapala, Jayani (2023) Unraveling the Influences of Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium, and Calcium on the Crystallization Behavior of Lactose. Foods, 12 (24). ISSN 2304-8158


The inability of lactose to properly crystallize due to the presence of high amounts of salts poses significant hurdles for its downstream processing with some dairy waste streams such as acid whey. This study aimed to investigate the physicochemical and thermal behaviors of lactose in the presence of cations commonly present in acid whey. A model-based study was conducted, utilizing various cations (Mg, Ca, K, and Na) at concentrations (8, 30, 38, and 22 mM, respectively) that are typically found in acid whey. The research experiments were conducted using a factorial design. The thermal analysis of concentrated solutions revealed augmentation in the enthalpy of water evaporation in the presence of individual cations and their combinations in comparison with pure lactose (698.4 J/g). The degree of enthalpy increased following the order of Na+ (918.6 J/g), K+ (936.6 J/g), Mg2+ (987.0 J/g), Ca2+ (993.2 J/g), and their mixture (1005.4 J/g). This resulted in a substantial crystal yield decline in the exactly reversed order to that of the enthalpy. The greatest decline was observed in the presence of the salt mixture (63%) followed by Ca (67%) compared with pure lactose (79%). The yield reduction was also inversely related to the solubility of lactose. The presence of divalent cations appeared to play a role in the isomerization of lactose molecules observed using DSC and XRD diffractograms according to the disappearance of peaks related to β lactose. The effect of salts on the crystallization of lactose was a combination of cation–lactose interactions, changes in the solubility of lactose, ion–dipole interactions between water and cations, and changes in the structure of water molecules. By deviating the composition of acid whey, the crystallization of lactose can be enhanced, leading to the improved downstream processing of acid whey.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/47557
DOI 10.3390/foods12244397
Official URL https://www.mdpi.com/2304-8158/12/24/4397
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3006 Food sciences
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords lactose; crystallization; acid whey; salts
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