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Journal of Food Engineering 66 (2005) 497–503

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Convective drying of spirulina in thin layer
Helene Desmorieux *, Nadege Decaen
LAGEP-UMR 5007 CNRS, University Claude Bernard-Lyon 1, 43 bd du 11 Novembre 1918, 69622 Villeurbanne Cedex, France
Received 13 January 2004; accepted 19 April 2004

Abstract
Spirulina is a microalgae with therapeutic and nutritional properties. It is now industrially produced and dried by spray drying
into a powder. The drying method of small productions facilities in addition to a need for a different form of presentation, leads us
to study the drying of spirulina by convection. In this study, spirulina sorption isotherm is established through different methods at
25 and 40 °C. The results vary slightly in function of the method but do not vary in function of the temperature. A simple Henderson
model is proposed to represent the isotherm. The drying by convection is characterized by the kinetics experimental drying in order
to study the influences of temperature and air velocity. Under conditions of temperature and air velocity of less than 40 °C–2.5 m/s,
a first drying phase appears on the curves. By normalizing, the use of the drying characteristic curve allows the regrouping of curves
and the representation of thin layer spirulina convective drying by a polynomial function.
Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Spirulina; Convective drying; Sorption isotherm; Thin layer drying

1. Introduction esting due to its therapeutic and dietetic effects. Because
of its high protein content the European Space Agency
Spirulina is a cyanobacteria, called arthrospira pla- selected it for the astronauts diet (Lasseur et al., 1996).
tensis, or more commonly blue algae, appeared on the In some countries in the South such as in Chad it is
Earth 3500 million years ago. Spirulina consists of cells consumed as food in sauces. However at this time in the
which measure 3.5–10 lm wide and are lined up side by North, it is rarely used except as a food supplement in
side. The filament has the form of a spiral with a diameter capsules. Thus for the first time the problem of pro-
of 20–100 lm, or it becomes straight in artificial culture. cessing spirulina for regular consumption in a Western
Spirulina has 60% proteins including 12 essential amino culture arises with respect to incorporating this food in
acids, 10 vitamins, and also therapeutic properties: the the diet of the astronauts. The chosen drying process
phycocyanin which is anti-oxidizing and anti-inflamma- have to be adapted to the needs of this specific context
tory (Romay et al., 1998), polysaccharides (Filali Mou- (Desmorieux & Garro, 1999). Two restraints can illus-
him, Cornet, Fontaine, Fournet, & Dubertret, 1993) trate the specific context as using it as food: the daily
which have anti-tumor and anti-viral effects (Gao & Wu, consumption requires presentation other then that cap-
2000; Mishima et al., 1998) and gamma linolenic acid sules or powder and a limiting factor for its consump-
(GLA) used for its cholesterol reduction effect (Samuels, tion as food in the Western countries is its green color
Mani, Iyer, & Nayak, 2002). Its use is not toxic (Cham- after mixing. Currently, due to its high protein content,
orro, Salazar, Favila, & Bourges, 1996). Since 1960s, it is generally dried either by spray drying for the big
spirulina has been artificially cultivated for its nutritional food processors in Japan, in the United States and in
qualities. In certain developing countries, it is used in China, or drying on support by hot air convection after
health clinics to treat malnutrition (Fox, 1996; Jourdan, extrusion for the small cultures. In this paper, convective
Ancel, & Boileau, 1999). Western countries find it inter- drying is studied. This drying process allows us to
envisage forms other than powder. This study also fur-
*
Corresponding author. Tel.: +33-04-72-43-18-67; fax: +33-04-72-
nishes bibliographical data that characterizies spirulina
43-16-99. convective drying, to our knowledge, is not in the
E-mail address: desmorieux@lagep.univ-lyon1.fr (H. Desmorieux). current scientific literature. This work provides to help
0260-8774/$ - see front matter Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jfoodeng.2004.04.021

The initial spirulina. Fig. 60% in weight of acid. It consists in 2. Fig. Then a 25 or 40 °C air flow is passed over the sample with its relative humidity increasing by increments of 10%. around 0. 2(c).002% per minute. Fig.1% to establish the dry reference mass. 1997). 2. These salt solution.2. The spirulina above the product. Convective drying Fig. Decaen / Journal of Food Engineering 66 (2005) 497–503 Nomenclature Aw water activity X mean moisture content in the product f characteristic function (kgw /kgdm ) Ta air temperature (°C) X .498 H. Principle of the 3 desorption isotherm methods used for Fresh spirulina is filtered on 20 lm filter. that are based on the humidity is reached above the product and measured principal presented in Fig. The moisture content is then measured. 2(a). 50%. the case of spirulina: The third method. dynamic vapor sorption (Levoguer & Williams. This allows comparison in through the dew point temperature. the influence of placed under the sample. -critical RH relative humidity (%) (kgw /kgdm ) v. After 1–10 mn. South of France. by hot air. The solutions were air conditions are studied by experimental drying prepared with distilled water. 1. -at t.5 ml. The relative air the drying temperature of 40 °C. first period drying rate Xeq equilibrium moisture content (kgw /kgdm ) (kgw /kgdm /s) / reduced moisture content va air velocity in determining the size of the convective thin layers (c) by mass variation differential measurement for each drying manufacturing units. the air-spirulina thermodynamic equilibrium is carried out by determining sorption isotherm using The first (non-automatic) method. v1 drying rate. Then. 2. The known complexity of the product due to its biological origin partial vapor pressure above this solution gives the brings us to apply the characteristic drying curve corresponding values of relative air humidity according method to the kinetics. -initial. Sorption isotherm placing six different homogeneous samples of spirulina. is carried out with only one sample (a) by several relative air humidity values fixed each by of 10 mg spirulina placed in a cupel. Several methods are used at 25 °C and at each sample in a small sealed enclosure. The measurement of the mass loss is measured for each increment when the drying rate dm/dt becomes lower than 0. Materials and methods The second method uses an activity meter FA-S/1 (Food Analysis Science and Technology). moisture content can vary from 3 to 9 kgw /kgdm according . Xcr moisture content. humidity is fixed by a sulphuric acid solution which is ence of methods and temperature. 1. N. This shows the influ. To obtain the desorption isotherm the relative air humidity is then decreased by increments until reaching 0. The equili- brium moisture is reached and measure when the weight is constant. The sorption isotherm is established 2(b).1%. consists in placing fresh spirulina. with concentrations of kinetics for 40 < Ta < 60 °C and 1:9 < va < 3:8 m/s. This mass variation di- rectly provides the moisture content of spirulina for a given air humidity. Xi . level of relative air humidity (Dynamic vapor sorp- In this paper. the equilibrium relative air with 3 measurement methods. with a known moisture content. measurements were carried out at the ‘‘Surface Mea- (b) by dew point temperature measurement in balance surement Systems’’ company in London. The sample becomes wet. The 20%.1. to characterize the drying of spirulina tion). is first dried with a relative air humidity of 0. in a Spirulina is obtained from two different farms in the small volume of air until equilibrium is reached. 40%. to the concentration and the temperature. Desmorieux.

f ð/Þ is the drying rate v nor.8 m/s. 3. An enlargement After measuring the dry matter. Relative air humidity is measured by hygrometer. 2. The influence of the parameters can be observed from these curves. with fixed dimensions. 4. H. details the part concerned with drying tain average moisture content evolution in function of drying time. For certain products. see in Fig. Results and discussion function of time. various composition throughout the sample. (a) Moisture content after equilibrium in a fixed relative humidity of air. Fig. Fig. perature. it allows a single normalized drying rate curve with determined spreading out and for vari- ous given drying conditions. on the Fig.3. the character- istic drying curve (abbreviated CDC) method (Keey & Suzuki. 4 shows the procedure employed for establishing desorption isotherm by DVS 2. Above 60 °C. With equilibrium and constant tem- of spirulina shrinks and cracks during drying. Methods of measure of moisture content in spirulina. 5(a) and (b) show the experimental results obtained by the three methods at 25 °C. . Measurements are established in a temperature range of 40–60 °C and with air velocity from 3. Since the Fig.  dX v dt X  Xeq f ð/Þ ¼ ¼   versus /¼ ð1Þ v1 dX X cr  Xeq dt 1 X is the average moisture content and Xcr the average critical moisture content at the transition. Decaen / Journal of Food Engineering 66 (2005) 497–503 499 Fig. The temperature and air velocity are fixed. So. at 25 °C. Principle of convective dryer. it is possible to obtain the drying rate curve according to the average moisture content. 3. there is degradation of phycocyanin and an increase of the Maillard reactions. Desmorieux. This method consists in nor- malizing the moisture content and the drying rate. The spirulina thin layer convective drying is The function f characterizes the drying of the product carried out in a dryer by closed loop hot air circulation. 5(b).1. 1974) is chosen. (b) Measure of equilibrium drew bulb temperature of air for a fixed moisture content of spirulina. the short period where the drying to the filtration and in function of the spiral or straight rate is maximum is considered often as the first period. structure. The sorption isotherm translates the equilibrium The maximum air velocity value is limited to avoid pos. The apparatus allows the recording of the mass of spirulina in 3. constant drying rate does not appear clearly by most biological materials. Fig. the activity of water is considered equal to the relative humidity of the air. The data are smoothed and after deriva- tion. Data treatment at 25 °C. N.9 to 3. Relative humidity of air and mass of spirulina by dynamic malized by the drying rate during first period v1 : vapor sorption. (c) Measure of mass variation under air relative humidity var- iation. This curve is obtained by plotting f ð/Þ versus /. since the thin layer moisture content. Sorption isotherm 1. Foodstuffs have heterogeneous structure. relation between the water activity in the product and its sible loss of dry matter by air current. it is possible to ob.

Belghit. These measurements are compared with spray dried spirulina sorption iso- therm (Jassby. where Aw is the water activity. 7. Fig. Spiess. Fig. at 25 °C. (a) and (b) Sorption isotherm for spirulina. The value of the relative humidity limits corresponding to this standard varies Fig. The measurement by dynamic vapor sorption leads to a value of equilibrium moisture content which is slightly lower than the two other methods. is to be taken into account when determining the appropriate RH of air during storage which should thus not exceed more than 45%. by DVS method. 2000). obtained humidity. same tendency. even less. & Serrano. Contrary to these food products. using DVS. Iglesia & Chirife. Experimental sorption isotherm by 38 and 40 °C. at the thermodynamic equilibrium. which are similar at the two temperatures. obtained by three methods and the detail for from 25% to 45% according to the curves of this work 0 < RH < 90% compared to the sorption of powder spirulina after and the relevant literature (see Fig. followed of a desorption. in Belahmdi. Desmorieux. This variation spray drying from Jassby (1989). 5. between the measurement methods. After mechanical extraction of water by filtration. 1973).65.5% in dry base (Henrikson. 5(b)). One notes a difference. by two methods. For the activities of water higher than 0. This hys- teresis explains the variations of measurements found in pre-dried spirulina.500 H. show that for a moisture content equilibrium approaching 3 kgw /kgdm . 1992. where the dry mass is obtained initially by contact with a dry air. 1989). Vidal. 25 °C:  ð0:71 Þ 1  lnð1  Aw Þ Xeq ¼ ð2Þ where moistures are lower than 90%. or 7. equal to the relative The results obtained by the three methods have the humidity in percent. 6 presents the 100 2:33  104 ð1:8Ta þ 492Þ obtained values of the isotherm at 38–40 °C. Decaen / Journal of Food Engineering 66 (2005) 497–503 Concerning the isotherm obtained from the spray dried powder or. There are several empirical models to simulate the sorption isotherms found in the literature (Fito. spirulina is satu- rated (see Fig. 6. this experimental value corresponds indeed to the minimal moisture content value that could be obtained at the laboratory at the beginning of drying. 7. the values are lower than the experimental results with a variation which increases with relative Fig. These results obtained by the rapid dew tem- perature method. effectively shows a slight hysteresis resulting from a sorption until a relative humidity of 80%. Iglesia & Chirife. the difference in the experimental results are mainly due to the product pretreatment before measurement of the isotherm. Sorption–desorption hysteresis of spirulina at 25 °C. that obtained by DVS. According to these curves one finds a hygroscopicity comparable (the shape of the curve and the corres- ponding values) to that of the agro-foodstuffs which are very hygroscopic such as bananas or onions (Desmorieux. 1989. & Jung. spirulina is different in that it has an desorption isotherm which is not influenced by the air temperature in the studied temperature range 25–40 °C. We propose to apply the model of Henderson. the dried spirulina should not have a mois- ture content of more than 7% in wet base. and Kaoua (1993) with at Fig. 1982) or pine- apples (Wolf. N. 5(a)). Gimeno. 0 < RH < 100%. 1982). . Mira. If one considers the industrial standards.

the different period are more or less noted in function of first drying period is not clearly marked. obtained by three methods. the spirulina pre- treatment operations brings to light an important im- pact on the isotherm and probably on its internal structure. 9 and 10 show the influence of air temperature these parameters. 8. the water loss can be maximal transfers. content (see in Fig. Influence of air temperature on spirulina thin layer drying. 2.5 m/s. the curves allows us to suppose ibility. see Figs. The curves are similar in and air velocity lower than 2. For spirulina. the isotherm shows that the thermodynamic air-spirulina equilibrium is strongly influenced by temperature. Desmorieux. The and (b) and 10(a). Convective drying: influence of external parameters different air velocity. by 3. At smooth conditions (low temperature which form a crust that limits internal heat and mass and or low air velocity). that mean a drying form. For air temperature lower than 40 °C and velocity on the drying rate. Under more harsh conditions. 9(a) and (c)): these external air A final or third period can sometimes be consid- conditions allows the internal water transfer equal or ered in the drying process (Voilley & Moyne. N. the constant drying rate does correspond to the product drying kinetics to reach the not appear..2 gw /kgdm /s (see Figs. H. Decaen / Journal of Food Engineering 66 (2005) 497–503 501 Fig. curves show a period. for the range 25– 40 °C studied. the imum limit of 2–2.5 m/s). However. one needs to establish the drying curves.8 m/s show the reproduc. 9(c) and 10(b)). Fig. this model cor- rectly simulates the experimental values of sorption isotherm for a water activity less than 95% (conditions at convective or radiative drying). 9(a) dependant on the air temperature and velocity. These reactions are more prevalent and rapid until reaching a value of 40% of the initial moisture at higher temperature. with a moisture content less than . 8. The product is conserved at 2–3 °C values (40 °C. Above these external conditions. 1993) that the temperature influence is very weak in the range 25–60 °C for certain foodstuffs.2. In Fig. 9. then. 38 and 40 °C. Thus. velocity. it is only seen as a high point on the curve. Ta is the temperature in °C. rate below 1 gw /kgdm /s. The curves by 60 °C–3. the relation becomes:   1 1  lnð1  Aw Þ ð0:7Þ Xeq ¼ . 25 < Ta < 40 °C ð3Þ 100 0:124 Under these conditions. that correspond to the rise in This upper limit can result from reactions on the surface temperature. greater than the external one. 1990). Its value is not proportional to the variation of Figs. Certain authors maintain as in (Belahmdi et al. The maximal drying rate values are strongly the existence of a long first drying period. equilibrium moisture content given by the sorption whose value increases with the air temperature and isotherm. the drying rate presents a max- before being placed in the drying chamber. They For harsh conditions. Model of Henderson compared to the experimental sorption isotherm at 25. In order to obtain the characteristic of product dry- ing.

a almost constant drying rate mental kinetics for one dimension and one type of period appears. maximal drying rate. kgdm . Desmorieux. which implies a necessary and thus no longer depend on the external air condi. The study of the spirulina convective thin layer drying shows the 3. 11. parameters / and f : f ð/Þ ¼ 0:9/2 þ ð1 þ 0:9Þ/ ð4Þ Acknowledgements That function represents the regrouping of the curves that allows to characterize the thin layers convective This research work was supported by the ESA. then there is not a constant drying rate. Applying the CDC method to the That phase can correspond to the limiting transfer experimental drying curves allows to regroup them in through the membranes cells. all the kinetics are nearly the same curve methods of measurements. Fetsh from the SMS society to design a dryer for these range conditions. nomial function for the experimental conditions of this mial law will be proposed to connect the two normalized study. there is not drying. safety margin to allow a final moisture content corres- tions. The critical moisture content is determinate constant drying curve and the drying rate is limited to from the drying rate curve at the end of the first period 2. in function of the rium moisture content at saturation is near to 3 kgw / moisture content gradient.8 Mr. The characteristic drying curve method influence of the air temperature and velocity. the following polyno. for the DVS measure. The utilization of the the Fig. Spirulina is very hygroscopic in the 25– Fig. The falling rate period is then represented characteristic drying curve method makes it possible to with a concave curve. Effect of air velocity for an air temperature of 40 and 60 °C. 4.P. N. Nogier for the biomass m/s. The dependent factor of the kinetics is then only ponding to food conservation standards. Conclusion The spirulina sorption isotherm was measured and the convective thin layer drying characterized by the drying kinetics. A third period appears at the end of or. For external conditions of soft drying at 40 °C and air The CDC method allows to normalized the experi. 40 °C temperature range and the equilibrium moisture content is not dependent of the temperature. The dif- ference between the results are more dependent on the 0. Characteristic drying curve for convective drying of thin layers of spirulina. J. 10.502 H.6–1 kgw /kgdm . velocity above 2. Decaen / Journal of Food Engineering 66 (2005) 497–503 Fig. and all the kinetics are nearly the same curve.2 gw /kgdm /s. drying process for spirulina for the temperature range European Spatial Agency.3. for the drying. Jourdan and Mr. which is the minimal moisture content that we obtain at the beginning of the drying process. R.5 m/s. It allows to obtain the resident time of the product and Dr. The equilib- the water diffusion in the product.9 to 3. 11. Attwool and Dr. . The authors want to thank from 40 to 60 °C and air velocity varying from 1. For harder conditions. regroup and characterize thin layer drying by a poly- With the assumed hypothesis.

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