Technology for encapsulating functional materials has gained attention as a means of adding extra value to materials. The benefits of encapsulation include the protection of materials by means of shells, the increased concentration of materials, and the stabilization of materials that are not otherwise easily combined.
When hydrosol, in which materials are emulsified or dispersed, is gelatinized into droplets, hydrogel particles result. Among Kao's technological measures for transforming materials into particles, we have developed droplet manufacturing equipment featuring a multi-hole nozzle. It discharges droplets of hydrosol from this nozzle, which is fitted with a fluid vibrator. The droplets are discharged into cooling oil where they are quickly cooled and gelatinized. In this way, the equipment continuously manufactures uniformly sized hydrogel particles ranging from 0.5 mm to 5 mm in diameter.
This process facilitates the manufacturing of a particle form of Sphingolipid E, our unique functional cosmetic ingredient that serves as an alternative for ceramide, a naturally occurring intercellular lipid in the skin. Being an oil component, ceramide is usually blended with other oily ingredients or surfactants in milks and creams. When transformed into particles, however, ceramide can then be maintained in a highly concentrated form and mixed with a water-based lotion or gel, which was previously difficult to achieve.
Hydrogel particles are able to contain either liquid or solid materials of many types and have the potential for enhancing the functionality of materials while facilitating the development of new functions in new forms. New applied technologies in this exciting field are expected to emerge in the years to come.
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