Impact of solvent quality on the network strength and structure of alginate gels
Journal article, 2016
The influence of the mixture of water and alcohols on the solubility and properties of alginate and its calcium-induced gels is of interest for the food, wound care and pharmaceutical industries. The solvent quality of water with increasing amounts of ethanol (0-20%) on alginate was studied using intrinsic viscosity. The effect of ethanol addition on the rheological and mechanical properties of calcium alginate gels was determined. Small-angle X-ray scattering and transmission electron microscopy were used to study the network structure. It is shown that the addition of ethanol up to 15% (wt) increases the extension of the alginate chain, which correlates with increased moduli and stress being required to fracture the gels. The extension of the polymer chain is reduced at 20% (wt) ethanol, which is followed by reduced moduli and stress at breakage of the gels. The network structure of gels at high ethanol concentrations (24%) is characterized by thick and poorly connected network strands.