T4 Error: JavaException: com.terminalfour.content.NoSuchContentException: No version in this language found: 17111 - en

Our Centre for Water Soluble Polymers focuses on the characterisation, properties and application of polysaccharides and proteins, commonly referred to as hydrocolloids. They are widely used as thickeners, gelling agents, dispersants, emulsifiers and foaming agents in a broad range of industrial formulations including food, pharmaceuticals, personal care and cosmetics.

The Centre’s particular interests are:

  • Chemical and physicochemical characterisation of hydrocolloids, including determination of polymer molecular mass.
  • Viscosity and viscoelastic properties of hydrocolloid solutions.
  • Gelation mechanisms and determination of gel characteristics.
  • Synergistic interactions between hydrocolloids to yield enhanced functionality.
  • Interfacial properties including the ability of hydrocolloids to stabilise emulsions and foams.

We have extensive experience of collaboration with industrial partners, including GlaxoSmithKline, Marks & Spencer, The Findus Group, Innovia Films, San Ei Gen FFI Inc (Japan), DuPont, Unilever, Croda Europe, Seagarden (Norway) and Almac (Northern Ireland).


The Centre is well equipped and has a range of specialist techniques available to characterise and evaluate the functional performance of hydrocolloids, including:

  • Controlled strain and controlled stress rheometry.
  • Extensional rheometry.
  • Gel texture analysis.
  • Micro-differential scanning calorimetry.
  • Photon correlation spectroscopy.
  • Laser diffraction.
  • Flow particle image analysis.
  • Electrophoresis.
  • Gel permeation chromatography with multiangle laser light scattering detection.
  • Isothermal titration calorimetry.
  • Electron spin resonance spectroscopy.
  • Static and dynamic surface tensiometry.

Other general instrumentation includes: FTIR, UV spectroscopy, fluorimetry, atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS), gas chromatography (GC) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Research projects

BBSRC Elucidation of the Molecular Characteristics and Emulsification Properties of Citrus and Sugar Beet Pectin.

This project was concerned with characterising pectin from sugar beet pulp, a by-product of the sugar industry, for potential application as an emulsifier for flavour oils in the beverage industry.

Innovate UK Sustainable Technologies for Chitosan and Novel Functional Derivatives.

This project was concerned with modifying chitosan from waste prawn shells for potential application as a thickener in personal care and cosmetic formulations.

BBSRC & IBTI Club Isolation, Fractionation and Modification of Fructans From Rye-Grass to Produce Novel Biosurfactants and Polymers as Part of a Rye-Grass Biorefinery.

This project was concerned with the modification of fructans from rye grass to produce novel bio-based surfactants for use in foods, cosmetics and personal care products as emulsifiers and foaming agents.



Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry 18 (eds Williams, P. A. and Phillips G.O.) Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge UK, Special Publication No. 353 (2016).

Handbook of Food Proteins” (eds Phillips G.O. and Williams, P.A.) Woodhead Publishing Ltd, Cambridge, UK, (2011).

“Renewable Resources for Functional Polymers and Biomaterials” (ed Williams, P.A.) Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, Polymer Chemistry Series No 1. (2011).

“Handbook of Hydrocolloids” (eds Phillips G.O and Williams, P.A.) Woodhead Publishing Ltd (2009).

Research Papers

Nwokocha, L. M. and Williams, P.A. ‘Solution characteristics and themorheology of Prosopis africana seed polysaccharide’ Food Hydrocolloids 56 201-206 (2016)

Williams, P.A. ‘Gums: properties and uses’ The Encyclopaedia of Food Health, Academic Press , Oxford, eds Caballero, B., Finglas, P. and Toldra, F., 3 283-289 (2016).

Gashua, I.B., Williams, P.A. and Baldwin, T.C. ‘ Molecular characteristics, association and interfacial properties of gum Arabic harvested from both Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal’ Food Hydrocolloids 61 514-522 (2016).

Williams, P.A., ‘Polysaccharide ingredients: Gum Arabic. Reference Module in Food Sciences’ Elsevier pp1-6 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-08-100596-5.03254-6 Elsevier Inc. (2016).

Han, Lingyu, Ratcliffe, I., Williams, P.A., ‘Self-assembly and emulsification properties of hydrophobically modified inulin’ J Agricultural and Food Chemistry 63 3709-3715 (2015).

Kokubun, S., Ratcliffe, I. and Williams, P.A. ‘The emulsification properties of octenyl- and dodecenyl- succinylated inulins’ Food Hydrocolloids 50 1435-149 (2015).

Gashua, I.B., Williams, P.A., Yadhav, M.P. and Baldwin, T.C. ‘Characterisation and molecular association of Nigerian and Sudanese Acacia gum exudates’ Food Hydrocolloids 51 405-413 (2015).

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A. ‘Hydrodynamic and rheological properties of Irvingia gabonensis gum’ Carbohydrate Polymers 114 352-356 (2014).

Wang, H., Williams, P.A. and Senan, C. ‘Synthesis, characterization and emulsification properties of dodecenyl succinic anhydride derivatives of gum arabic’ Food Hydrocolloids 37 143-148 (2014).

Kokubun, S., Ratcliffe, I. and Williams, P.A.  ‘Synthesis, characterisation and self assembly of biosurfactants based on hydrophobically-modified inulins’ Biomacromolecules 14 (8) 2830-6 (2013).

Fitzpatrick, P., Meadows, J., Ratcliffe, I., Williams, P.A. ‘Control of the properties of xanthan / glucomannan mixed gels by varying xanthan fine structure’ Carbohydrate Polymers 92 1018-1025 (2013).

We will also be presenting at the Gums and Stabilisers for the Food industry, June 26th-30th 2017 in Berlin, Germany [www.gumsandstabilisers.org].