ACS Omega, vol.8, no.12, pp.11479-11491, 2023 (SCI-Expanded)
In this study, mesoporous calcium silica aerogels were produced for use as an anticaking food additive in powdered foods. A low-cost precursor (sodium silicate) was used, and calcium silica aerogels with superior properties were obtained with different pH values (pH 7.0 and pH 9.0) by modeling and optimizing the production process. The Si/Ca molar ratio, reaction time, and aging temperature were determined as independent variables, and their effects and interactions to maximize the surface area and water vapor adsorption capacity (WVAC) were evaluated by response surface methodology and analysis of variance. Responses were fitted with a quadratic regression model to find optimal production conditions. Model results showed that the maximum surface area and WVAC of the calcium silica aerogel that was produced with pH 7.0 were achieved at a Si/Ca molar ratio of 2.42, a reaction time of 5 min, and an aging temperature of 25 °C. The surface area and WVAC of calcium silica aerogel powder produced with these parameters were found to be 198 m2/g and 17.56%, respectively. According to the results of surface area and elemental analysis, calcium silica aerogel powder produced at pH 7.0 (CSA7) had the best results compared to that produced at pH 9.0 (CSA9). Therefore, detailed characterization methods were examined for this aerogel. The morphological review of the particles was performed with scanning electron microscopy. Elemental analysis was performed via inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy. True density was measured in a helium pycnometer, and tapped density was calculated by the tapped method. Porosity was calculated using an equation using these two density values. The rock salt was powdered with a grinder and used as a model food for this study, and CSA7 was added at a rate of 1% by weight. The results showed that adding CSA7 powder to the rock salt powder at a rate of 1% (w/w) improved the flow behavior from the cohesive region to the easy-flow region. Consequently, calcium silica aerogel powder with a high surface area and high WVAC might be considered as an anticaking agent to use in powdered foods.