cod. 1001782

Academic year 2024/25
1° year of course - First semester
Carlotta COMPARI
Academic discipline
Chimica fisica (CHIM/02)
Discipline delle tecnologie alimentari
Type of training activity
48 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: -
course unit

Integrated course unit module: STRUCTURE AND PROPERTIES 'NATURAL FOODS

Learning objectives

At the end of the course the student will have assimilated the main themes of Physical Chemistry demonstrating knowledge and understanding of the chemical-physical methods for the study of the structure and physical properties of foods and to the main production and preservation processes.
At the end of the class, the student must be able to show:
- Knowledge and understanding
Students will acquire basic knowledge of the concepts and models of modern physical chemistry. Furthermore, they will learn to analyse the basic molecular transformations and processes which are at the basis of foods properties.
- Applying knowledge and understanding by applying the knowledge to the study of chemical processes in food area by means of chemico-physical techniques, in order to verify their feasibility and optimization;
- Communication skills by using the specific language of the Physical Chemistry and the correct terminology;
- Making judgements by evaluating with a critical attitude the soundness of the chemico-physical models used in the analysis of the experimental data;
- Learning skills
Applying the acquired knowledge will have to demonstrate that they have developed problem solving skills.


No preliminary examinations are requested.

Course unit content

The first part of the module is devoted to the equilibrium thermodynamics with special reference to food science.
The second part deals with non-equilibrium thermodynamics and transport processes, particularly those involved in food processing and preservation.
The third part is connected with the colloidal systems and with their stability, particularly as far as the food systems are concerned.
This will complete the scientific knowledge of the students in food science.
• Equilibrium thermodynamics applied to chemical, biological and food systems
• Changes of state: physical transformations of pure substances.
• Changes of state: physical transformations of simple mixtures.
• Solutions of macromolecules.
• Equilibria of chemical reactions.
• Non-equilibrium thermodynamics and transport processes.
• Colloidal Systems.

Full programme

1. Equilibrium thermodynamics applied to chemical, biological and food systems with a statistical thermodynamics outline. Variables and state functions. The laws of thermodynamics. The temperature and pressure dependence of thermodynamic quantities. Thermochemistry. Calorimetry. Outline of statistical Thermodynamics.
2. Changes of state: physical transformations of pure substances. Phase diagrams. Clapeyron and Clausius-Clapeyron equations. Gibbs phase rule
3. Changes of state: physical transformations of simple mixtures. Open systems and partial molar quantities. Ideal and real solutions. Raoult and Henry laws. Fugacity and activity. The water activity in foods and food preservation. Regular solutions. Ideal mixing and excess functions. Phase equilibria in binary systems. Fractional distillation. Azeotropes, eutectic, partially miscible liquids, binary mixtures compounds forming. Phase transition in food materials.
4. Solutions of macromolecules. Solvent chemical potential. Colligative properties. Osmotic pressure. Molecular weight measurements. Membrane equilibria. Dialysis equilibrium. Donnan equilibrium.
5. Equilibria of chemical reactions. Thermodynamics of chemical equilibrium. Gibbs free energy and equilibrium constant. Activity and ionic strength. Exergonic and endergonic reactions. Coupled reactions.
6. Non-equilibrium thermodynamics and transport processes. Order out of caos. Force and flow. Phenomenological equations. Theorems. Onsager law. Steady state concept. Mobility of the ions in solution. Electrophoresis. Diffusion. Sedimentation. Viscosity.
7. Colloidal Systems. Dispersed systems. Size and shape of colloidal particles. Ostwald classification. Surface tension and surface free energy. Van de Waals forces. Lennard-Jones potential. Intermolecular forces in colloidal systems. DLVO theory. Hydrophobic interactions, hydrophobic hydration and Hydrophobic effect : model for the interpretation. Structure and classification of surfactants. Micelle formation. Casein Micelles. Emulsifiers and stabilizers in foods. Cohesion and adhesion work, spreading coefficient, wettability. Ostwald ripening. The most common food colloids: Emulsions, foams, dispersions and suspensions, gels.


- J. N. Coupland, An Introduction to the Physical Chemistry of Food, Springer, New York (2014)
- P. Walstra, Physical Chemistry of Foods, Marcel Dekker, Inc, New York (2003)
- P. W. Atkins, J. De Paula, Elementi di Chimica Fisica, quarta edizione italiana, Zanichelli, Bologna, 2018.
- P. Atkins, J. De Paula, Chimica Fisica Biologica 1 e 2, Zanichelli editore, Bologna (2008).
- E. Dickinson, M. Leser, Food Colloids - Self-Assembly and Material Science, RCS Publishing, 2006.
- Selected scientific papers
- Copy of slides can be downloaded from the Elly website.

Teaching methods

Lectures are carried out face to face. During oral lectures, done by means of computer ppt presentations, available to the students before classes in the web site (ELLY) of the class, general topics related to the use of chemico-physical models for studying food and biological systems will be discussed. Lectures will be implemented by means of problem solving and “question time” like activities in order to maximize the understanding level of the students.

Assessment methods and criteria

The written examination will have to be passed during normal examination sessions.
Questions will have the purpose of establishing the level of knowledge and understanding of the course content, in relation to the educational goals.
If the results of the test will be positive (18/30), the final mark of Structure and Physical Properties of Food examination will be the mean of the mark of the two modules.
During the course, two written in itinere tests will be proposed. The mark of the module will be the mean of the two tests.

Students with SLD / BSE must first contact CAI, support for students with disabilities,

Other information