ACS applied materials & interfaces

Biodegradable pectin/clay aerogels.

PMID 23406325


Biodegradable, foamlike materials based on renewable pectin and sodium montmorillonite clay were fabricated through a simple, environmentally friendly freeze-drying process. The addition of multivalent cations (Ca(2+) and Al(3+)) resulted in apparent cross-linking of the polymer and enhancement of aerogel properties. The compressive properties increased as the solid contents (both pectin and clay) increased; moduli in the range of 0.04-114 MPa were obtained for materials with bulk densities ranging from 0.03 g/cm(3) to 0.19 g/cm(3), accompanied by microstructural changes from a lamellar structure to a cellular structure. Biodegradability of the aerogels was investigated by detecting CO2 release for 4 weeks in compost media. The results revealed that pectin aerogels possess higher biodegradation rates than wheat starch, which is often used as a standard for effective biodegradation. The addition of clay and multivalent cations surprisingly increased the biodegradation rates.