Vera A. Alvarez


2 Hydrogels Beads of Alginate/Seaweed Powder for Plants Nutrition

Authors: Leandro N. Ludueña, Vera A. Alvarez, Brenda O. Mazzola, Adriel Larsen, Romina P. Ollier, Jimena S. Gonzalez


Seaweed is a natural renewable resource with great potential that is not being used by the domestic industry. Here, it was used a kind of invasive algae U. Pinnatifida that causes serious ecological damage on the Argentinian coasts. Alginate is one of the most widely used materials for encapsulation, and has the advantage that is a natural polysaccharide derived from a marine plant. It can form thermally stable hydrogel in the presence of calcium cation. In addition, the hydrogel can be easily produced into particulate form by using simple and gentle method. The aim of this work was to obtain and to characterize novel compounds (alginate/seaweed powder) for the soil nutrition. Alginate water solutions were prepared by concentrations of 20, 30, 40 and 50 g/L, in those solutions 10g/L of seaweed powder was added. Then the dispersions were transferred from a beaker to the atomizer by a peristaltic pump (with 0.05 to 0.1 L/h flow). A tank was filled with 1 L of calcium chloride solution (4 g/L), and the solution was agitated with a magnetic stirrer. The beads were analyzed by means TGA, FTIR and swelling determinations. In addition, the improvements in the soil were qualitative measured. It was obtained beads with different diameters depend on the initial concentration and the flow used. A better dispersions of seaweed and optimal diameter for the plant nutrition applications were obtained for 40g/L concentration and 0.1 L/h flow. The beads show thermal stability and high swelling degree. It can be successfully obtained alginate beads with seaweed powder with a novelty application as plant nutrient.

Keywords: Characterization, Plant Nutrition, Hydrogel, Seaweed, biodegradable

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1 Thermal and Mechanical Properties of Polycaprolactone-Soy Lecithin Modified Bentonite Nanocomposites

Authors: Danila Merino, Leandro N. Ludueña, Vera A. Alvarez


Clays are commonly used to reinforce polymeric materials. In order to modify them, long-chain quaternary-alkylammonium salts have been widely employed. However, the application of these clays in biological fields is limited by the toxicity and poor biocompatibility presented by these modifiers. Meanwhile, soy lecithin, acts as a natural biosurfactant and environment-friendly biomodifier. In this report, we analyse the effect of content of soy lecithin-modified bentonite on the properties of polycaprolactone (PCL) nanocomposites. Commercial grade PCL (CAPA FB 100) was supplied by Perstorp, with Mw = 100000 g/mol. Minarmco S.A. and Melar S.A supplied bentonite and soy lecithin, respectively. Clays with 18, 30 and 45 wt% of organic content were prepared by exchanging 4 g of Na-Bent with 1, 2 and 4 g of soy lecithin aqueous and acid solution (pH=1, with HCl) at 75ºC for 2 h. Then, they were washed and lyophilized for 72 h. Samples were labeled A, B and C. Nanocomposites with 1 and 2 wt.% of each clay were prepared by melt-intercalation followed by compression-moulding. An intensive Brabender type mixer with two counter-rotating roller rotors was used. Mixing temperature was 100 ºC; speed of rotation was 100 rpm. and mixing time was 10 min. Compression moulding was carried out in a hydraulic press under 75 Kg/mm2 for 10 minutes at 100 ºC. The thickness of the samples was about 1 mm. Thermal and mechanical properties were analysed. PCL nanocomposites with 1 and 2% of B presented the best mechanical properties. It was observed that an excessive organic content produced an increment on the rigidity of PCL, but caused a detrimental effect on the tensile strength and elongation at break of the nanocomposites. Thermogravimetrical analyses suggest that all reinforced samples have higher resistance to degradation than neat PCL.

Keywords: Characterization, nanocomposite, Chemical Modification, Clay

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