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Peter Williams

Professor, Polymer & Colloid Chemistry

Staff Profile

Peter Williams

Room: C13e


+44 (0) 1978 293083



Professor Peter A. Williams is a Graduate of the Royal Society of Chemistry (Kelsterton College, Connah’s Quay, 1975) and obtained a PhD from the University of Salford in 1981.

He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry 1991 and was awarded a Personal Chair, in Polymer and Colloid Chemistry, at Glyndwr University (formerly The North East Wales Institute), 1996. He gained the title of DSc from the University of Salford in 2009. 

He has more than 30 years research experience in the area of polymer and colloid chemistry and in particular in the synthesis, characterisation, properties and applications of a broad range of polysaccharides and synthetic water soluble polymers.

He is a Past Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Society of Chemistry "Colloid and Interface Science Group" (1993-1998) and a Past Chairman of the Society of Chemical Industry "Colloid and Surface Chemistry Group".

He was presented with the Distinguished Service Award by the Society of Chemical Industry in 2007.

He is a co-Founder and Secretary of the Food Hydrocolloids Trust (www.foodhydrocolloidstrust.org.uk) and Cellucon Trust (www.cellucontrust.org) established to promote polysaccharide research through the organization of conferences and has organised more than 30 international conferences.

He has published over 200 scientific papers and edited over 40 books and is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the international journal Food Hydrocolloids (www.ees.elsevier.com/foodhyd).

PhD, University of Salford

Publications since 2008


"Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry 14" (eds Williams, P. A. and Phillips G.O.) Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge UK (2008).

“Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry 15” (eds Williams, P. A. and Phillips G.O.) Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge UK (2009).

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

“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)

“Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry 16” (eds Williams, P. A. and Phillips G.O.) Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge UK, Special Publication No. 335 (2012)

“Gum Arabic” (eds. Kennedy, J.F., Phillips, G.O. and Williams, P.A.), Royal Society of Chemistry , Cambridge, UK, Special publication No.333 (2012) Book Chapters


Williams, P.A. and Phillips G.O. “Introduction to food hydrocolloids” in “Handbook of hydrocolloids” Phillips G.O. and Williams P.A. eds Woodhead Publishing Ltd Cambridge  pp 1-23 (2009).

Williams, P.A. and Phillips G.O. “Gum arabic” in “Handbook of hydrocolloids” Phillips G.O. and Williams P.A. eds Woodhead Publishing Ltd Cambridge  pp 252-273 (2009).

Williams, P.A. and Phillips, G.O. ‘Introduction to food proteins’ in Handbook of food proteins eds Phillips, G.O. and Williams, P.A. Woohead Publishing Ltd Cambridge (2011) pp1-12

Williams, P.A. ‘Natural polymers: Introduction and overview’ in Renewable resources for functional polymers ed Williams, P.A. Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, Polymer Series No 1(2011) pp1-14

Peer reviewed papers

Elmanan, M., Al-Assaf, S. Phillips, G.O. and Williams, P.A., ‘Studies on exudate gums: Part VI. Interfacial rheology of Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal.’ Food Hydrocolloids 22 682-689 (2008).

Mohammadifar, M.A., Musavi, S.M. and Williams, P.A. ‘Study of complex coacervation between beta lactoglobulin and tragacanthin (soluble part of gum tragacanth)’ Milchwissenschaft 62 (4) 389-393 (2007)

Blanchard, R.-L., Williams, P.A., English, R.J., Rose, S.A., Lyons, L. and Whitehead, M. ‘The influence of the extensional viscosity of very low concentrations of high molecular mass water-soluble polymers on atomization and droplet impact’ Pest Management Science 64 497-504 (2008)

Siew, Chee Kiong and Williams, P.A. ‘Role of protein and ferulic acid in the emulsification properties of sugar beet pectin’ J. Agric and Food Chemistry 56 4164-4171 (2008)

 Mahendran, T., Williams, P.A., Phillips, G.O. and Al-Assaf, S. ‘New insights into the structural characteristics of gum arabic’ J. Agric. and Food Chemistry 56 9269-9276 (2008)

Siew, Chee Kiong, Williams, P.A., Cui, S.W. and Wang, Q. ‘ Characterisation of the surface-active components of sugar beet pectin and the hydrodynamic thickness of the adsorbed pectin layer’ J. Agric. and Fd Chem. 56 8111-8120 (2008)

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A., ‘Isolation and rheological characteristion of Mucuna flagellipes seed gum’ Food Hydrocolloids 23 1394-1397 (2009)

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A., ‘Some properties of white and yellow plantain (Musa paradisaica, Normalis) starches’ Carbohydrate Polymers 76 133-138 (2009).

Nwokocha, L.M., Aviara, N.A., Senan,C., Williams,P.A. ‘A comparative study of some properties of cassava (Manihot esculents, Crantz) and cocoyam (Colocasia esculenta, Linn ) starches’ Carbohydrate Polymers 76 362-367 (2009)

Padala, S., Williams, P.A. and Phillips, G.O. ‘The adsorption of gum Arabic, egg white protein and their mixtures at the oil-water  interface’ J. Agric. Fd Chem.57 4964 – 4973 (2009)

Williams, P.A., ‘Molecular interactions of plant and algal polysaccharides’ Structural Chemistry 20 299-308 (2009)

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A., New starches: Physicochemical properties of sweetsop (Annona squamosa) and soursop (Annona muricata) starches Carbohydrate Polymers 78 462-468 (2009)

Smith, C.J., Menzies, A.R., Williams, P.A. and Phillips, G.O. Determination of the calorific value of gum Arabic in rats using modified versions of the growth bioassay and the digestibility assay International Journal of Food Science and technology 44 847-853 (2009)

Nwokocha, L.M., Soetan, K.O., Williams, P.A. ‘A study of the starch isolated from three varieties of Lablab purpureus seeds’ Carbohydrate Polymers 79 685-693 (2010)

Fang, Y., Al-Assaf, S., Phillips,G.O., Nishinari, K., Williams, P.A. ‘Interaction of gum Arabic with fatty acid studied using electron paramagnetic resonance’ Biomacromolecules (in press)

Anderson, R.L., Ratcliffe, I., Greenwell, H.C., Williams, P.A., Cliffe, S., Coveney, P.V., ‘Clay swelling – A challenge for the oilfield’ Earth-Science Reviews 98 201-216 (2010)

Vinayahan, T., Williams, P.A. and Phillips, G.O., ‘The electrostatic interaction and complex formation between gum Arabic and BSA’ Biomacromolecules 11 3367-3374 (2010)

Juna, S., Williams, P.A. and Davies, S. ‘Determination of molecular mass distribution of amylopectin using asymmetrical flow field flow fractionation’ Carbohydrate Polymers 83 1384-1396 (2011)

Chan H-T, Leh, C.P., Bhat, R., Senan C., Williams, P.A., Karim, A.A ‘ Molecular structure, rheological and thermal characteristics of ozone-oxidised starch’ Food Chemistry, 126 1019-1024 (2011)

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A. ‘Structure and properties of Treculia Africana (Decne) seed starch’ Carbohydrate Polymers 84 395-401 (2011)

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A. ‘Comparative study of physicochemical properties of breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) and white yam starches’ Carbohydrate Polymers  (2011)

Nwokocha, L.M., Senan, C. and Williams, P.A. ‘Structural, physicochemical and rheological characterisation of Tacca involucrata starch Carbohydrate Polymers 86 789-796 (2011)

Williams, P.A. ‘Structural characteristics and functional properties of gum Arabic’ in “Gum Arabic”, (Williams PA and Phillips GO, Kennedy, JF, Eds), Wrexham,  Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, Special Publication No. 333 (2012) pp179-188.

Nwokocha, L.M., Nwokocha, K.E. and Williams, P.A. ‘Physicochemical properties of starch  isolated from Antiaris Africana seeds in comparison to maize starch’  Starch / Starke 64 246-254 (2012)

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A., “ Evaluating the potential of Nigerian plants as a source of industrial hydrocolloids” in Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry 16, eds Williams, P.A. and Phillips, G.O. Royal Societ of Chemistry, Cambridge, UK, Special Publication No. 335 (2012) pp27-44

Nwokocha, L.M. and Williams, P.A. “Rheological characterization of the galactomannan from Leucaena leucophala seed” Carbohydrate Polymers 90 833-838 (2012)

Chua, M.C., Chan, K., Hocking, T.J., Williams, P.A., Perry, C.J. and Baldwin, T.C. “Methodologies for the extraction and analysis of konjac glucomannan from corms of Amorphophallus konjac K.Koch” Carbohydrate Polymers 87 2202-2210 (2012)

Kuan, Y-H., Bhat, R., Senan, C., Williams, P.A. and Karim, A.A., “Effects of Ultraviolet irradiation on the physicochemical and functional properties of gum Arabic” J. Agricultural and Food Chemistry

 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)

Mohammed, M.H., Williams, P.A., Tverezovskaya, O. ‘Extraction of chitin from prawn shells and conversion to low molecular mass chitosan’ Food Hydrocolloids 31 166-171 (2013)

Fissore, E.N., Rojas, A.M., Gerschenson, L.N., Williams, P.A. ‘Butternut and beetroot pectins: Characterisation and functional properties’ Food Hydrocolloids 31 172-182 (2013)

Conference proceedings

Siew, Chee Kiong and Williams, P.A. ‘Emulsification properties of sugar beet pectin’ in Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry 14’ Williams, P.A. and Phillips, G.O. eds Royal Society of Chemistry Publishers Cambridge p257-263 (2008)

Fasihuddin, B.A. and Williams, P.A. ‘Physicochemical properties of starch isolated from sago palm (metroxylon sagu) at different palm heights. In Gums and Stabilisers for the Food Industry 14 eds Williams, P.A. and Phillips, G.O. Royal Society of Chemistry Special Publication (2008)

Professor Williams has obtained research funding totalling more than £3.5M since 2000 from a variety of sources including, EPSRC, BBSRC, Technology Strategy Board, Welsh Assembly Government and Industry. Specific research areas include:

Polymer synthesis and chemical modification of polysaccharides

This has involved the chemical modification of a range of polysaccharides including chitosan to produce derivatives with antimicrobial activity for application in packaging materials and also fructans to obtain novel biosurfactants for application in a range of industrial formulations including, personal care and cosmetics.

Chemical and physicochemical characterisation.

Studies have involved determination of the molecular characteristics of polysaccharides by fractionation (ion exchange and hydrophobic affinity chromatography) and application of analytical techniques. Determination of the molecular mass distribution and conformation of polymers using, gel permeation chromatography and asymmetric flow field flow fractionation coupled to multiangle light scattering and dynamic light scattering.

Properties of polymer solutions.

Studies on polymer conformation (polysaccharide coil-helix transitions) and gelation mechanisms have been undertaken using the ESR nitroxide spin label/spin probe technique, differential scanning and isothermal titration calorimetry. Significant progress has been made in understanding the nature of the interactions in mixed polysaccharide systems and the development of novel gel structures. A current focus is on the formation of polysaccharide-protein complexes formed through Maillard conjugation and electrostatic interaction and an investigation of their emulsification properties and potential application as novel emulsifying agents.

Adsorption of polymers at surfaces.

Studies have involved determination of adsorption isotherms and the use of ESR spectroscopy, photon correlation spectroscopy and fluorescence techniques to monitor the configuration of polymers adsorbed at the solid-liquid interface. Particular emphasis has been paid to the effect of adsorbed layer characteristics on the stability and rheological properties of concentrated suspensions. A key area of study has been an investigation of the adsorption of polysaccharide-protein complexes at the oil-water interface and his group was the first to identify the role of the proteinaceous component of certain polysaccharides [gum Arabic and sugar beet pectin] in their ability to stabilise oil-in-water emulsions.

Phase behaviour in polymer/polymer, polymer/particle and polymer/surfactant mixtures.

 Work has involved an experimental investigation of the flocculation of particles by non-adsorbed polymer and the phase behaviour of mixed systems with a view to establishing procedures to specifically separate proteins / enzymes / biological cells from industrial broths. Phase separation and colloid aggregation for some systems have been explained on a theoretical basis by polymer depletion theories. Studies have also been extended to investigate how phase separation processes can be exploited in order to produce novel gel structures for food and other applications.

Research Grants since 2000:

PJ Colours (Teaching Company Scheme) ‘Rheology of concentrated iron oxide dispersions’. (1999/2001 £75K)

Danisco Cultor, Denmark ‘Physicochemical properties of low methoxyl amidated pectin’ (£45K 1999/2003)

MAFF funded project in conjunction with UW Bangor ‘Starch granules destructurisation and modification’. (2000/2002 £117K)

Knowledge Exploitation Fund ‘Development of novel gels for fishing bait’ (2002 £45K)

Colgate Palmolive, Belgium ‘The use of PEO comb polymers to inhibit microbial deposition’ (£50K 2000/2002)

Reckitt Benckiser (EPSRC CASE) ‘Inhibition of protein adsorption and particle deposition onto surfaces’ (1999/2002)

Pilkington Technology Ltd (EPSRC CASE) ‘Control of the rheology of metal alkali silicate dispersions’ (2000/2004)

 EU CRAFT Award in conjunction with Optokem Instruments Ltd. "Development of novel separation methods for food related polysaccharides based on flow field flow fractionation and multiangle laser light scattering' (1997/2000 £200K)

EPSRC Cooperative Award in conjunction with Allied Colloids Ltd. "Shear and extensional flow properties of aqueous polymer solutions and polymer-thickened dispersions" (1997/2000 £143K)

E.U CRAFT Award in conjunction with Russell Fine Chemicals "Pheremone control release" (1999/2000 £300K).

Maelor Pharmaceuticals Ltd ‘Biopolymer systems for medical applications’ (£115K 2003/2006)

Maelor Pharmaceuticals Ltd  Drug –laden hydrogels (EPSRC CASE 2003/2006)

Roger Needhams Ltd. ‘Characterisation and properties of printing inks’  KnowledgeTransfer Partnership (£198K 2003/2007)

EPSRC ‘Polymeric additives to control the spraying and deposition of fluids’ (£171K 2003/2006)

Degussa Texturant Systems, France ‘ Emulsification properties of pectin’ (£15K 2003)

Pilkington Technology Ltd (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) Development of  glazings (£92.7 2005/2007)

Almetron Ltd (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) Development of systems for metal finishing. (£99K 2005/2007)

ICI Ltd ‘Characterisation of starch using asymmetrical flow field flow fractionation (EPSRC CASE, 2004/2007)

BBSRC ‘ Elucidation of the molecular characteristics and emulsification properties of citrus and sugar beet pectin’ (£149K 2005/ 2008)

San Ei Gen FFI, Japan, Polysaccharide – protein complexes as novel emulsifiers, (£50K 2005/2008)

Knowledge Exploitation Fund (KEF). ‘Water soluble polymers in cosmetics’( £136K 2004/06)

Lallemand UK Ltd, (Knowledge Transfer Partnership), ‘Development of novel clarifiers for the brewing industry,’ (£93K 2008/2010);

Technology Strategy Board, ‘New improved muds from environmental sources’ (£284K, 2008/2011).

GlaxoSmithKline, ‘Development of an optimized formulation for powders’ (£64K, 2009/2010)

Technology Strategy Board ‘Sustainable technologies for chitosan and novel functional derivatives’ (£104K, 2009/13)

Welsh Assembly Government ‘Industrial Biopolymers Knowledge Transfer Centre’ (£202K, 2009/2012)

GlaxoSmithKline, ‘Characterisation of ointments and creams’ (£120K, 2010/2011)

Russell IPM Ltd (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) ‘Development of agrochemical formulations to protect crops against insects’ (£107K 2010/12)

BBSRC ‘Isolation, fractionation and modification of fructans from rye-grass to produce novel biosurfactants and polymers as part of a rye-grass biorefinery (£211K, 2010/2013) [in collaboration with Bangor University and Aberystwyth University]

Cellpath Ltd, (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) ‘Development of novel histology formulations’ (£107K, 2012-2014)

Quay Pharmaceuticals, (Knowledge Transfer Partnership) ‘Development of new dosage form technology for the administration of drugs’ (£107K, 2013-2015)

Technology Strategy Board R&D Collaborative Project ‘Sustainable high-value chemical manufacture through industrial biotechnology’ (£190K, 2013-2015)