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Issue 72, 2017, Issue in Progress
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An ultra melt-resistant hydrogel from food grade carbohydrates

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We report a binary hydrogel system made from two food grade biopolymers, agar and methylcellulose (agar–MC), which does not require addition of salt for gelation to occur and has very unusual rheological and thermal properties. It is found that the storage modulus of the agar–MC hydrogel far exceeds those of hydrogels from the individual components. In addition, the agar–MC hydrogel has enhanced mechanical properties over the temperature range 25–85 °C and a maximum storage modulus at 55 °C when the concentration of methylcellulose was 0.75% w/v or higher. This is explained by a sol–gel phase transition of the methylcellulose upon heating as supported by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) measurements. Above the melting point of agar, the storage modulus of agar–MC hydrogel decreases but is still an elastic hydrogel with mechanical properties dominated by the MC gelation. By varying the mixing ratio of the two polymers, agar and MC, it was possible to engineer a food grade hydrogel of controlled mechanical properties and thermal response. SEM imaging of flash-frozen and freeze-dried samples revealed that the agar–MC hydrogel contains two different types of heterogeneous regions of distinct microstructures. The latter was also tested for its stability towards heat treatment which showed that upon heating to temperatures above 120 °C its structure was retained without melting. The produced highly thermally stable hydrogel shows melt resistance which may find application in high temperature food processing and materials templating.

Graphical abstract: An ultra melt-resistant hydrogel from food grade carbohydrates

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Publication details

The article was received on 03 Aug 2017, accepted on 16 Sep 2017 and first published on 25 Sep 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7RA08590G
RSC Adv., 2017,7, 45535-45544
  • Open access: Creative Commons BY license
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    An ultra melt-resistant hydrogel from food grade carbohydrates

    B. R. Thompson, T. S. Horozov, S. D. Stoyanov and V. N. Paunov, RSC Adv., 2017, 7, 45535
    DOI: 10.1039/C7RA08590G

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