Fabrication of salt–hydrogel marbles and hollow-shell microcapsules by an aerosol gelation technique
We designed a new method for preparation of liquid marbles by using hydrophilic particles. Salt–hydrogel marbles were prepared by atomising droplets of hydrogel solution in a cold air column followed by rolling of the collected hydrogel microbeads in a bed of micrometre sized salt particles. Evaporation of the water from the resulting salt marbles with a hydrogel core yielded hollow-shell salt microcapsules. The method is not limited to hydrophilic particles and could potentially be also applied to particles of other materials, such as graphite, carbon black, silica and others. The structure and morphology of the salt–hydrogel marbles were analysed by SEM and their particle size distributions were measured. We also tested the dissolution times of the dried salt marbles and compared them with those of table salt samples under the same conditions. The high accessible surface area of the shell of salt microcrystals allows a faster initial release of salt from the hollow-shell salt capsules upon their dissolution in water than from the same amount of table salt. The results suggest that such hollow-shell particles could find applications as a table salt substitute in dry food products and salt seasoning formulations with reduced salt content without the loss of saltiness.