WASHINGTON: Chocoholics, rejoice! Scientists have found a novel way to manufacture low-fat chocolate for guilt-free indulgence by applying electricity.
When fat is removed from liquid chocolate, its viscosity, or consistency, changes and the chocolate jams the pipeline as it travels through the manufacturing process, scientists said.
Researchers from Temple University in the US theorised that by applying an electric field they could accomplish two things – reduce the viscosity enough to lower the fat content, but also increase the density of the particles to maintain proper flow of chocolate through the manufacturing process.
The key was to apply the electric field in the same direction as the flow of the chocolate. Traditionally, electrorheology (ER), the practice of using electric fields on liquids, works perpendicularly to the liquid flow direction.
Researchers believe this method could be applicable to any liquids for which there is a need to reduce viscosity.
In previous research, scientists used an electric field to thin fuel to improve the transportation of crude oil via pipeline and improve gas efficiency in the engine and a magnetic field to thin blood to help prevent heart attacks.
Electrorheology works by changing the alignment of the particles in a liquid using electric fields, researchers said.
In the current study, ER aggregated the cocoa solid particles into short chains, which allowed the scientists to reduce the viscosity and fat content but maintain the flow.
For precision, researchers invented their own device to test their theory. They were able to reduce the fat on several different brands of chocolate by 20 per cent, better than they anticipated.
“The treated chocolate has wonderful taste. Some people even claim that the ER-treated chocolate has a slightly stronger cocoa flavor, better than the original chocolate,” said Rongjia Tao from Temple University.