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Experimental investigation into size and sphericity of alginate micro-beads produced by electrospraying technique: Operational condition optimization

Partovinia, Ali, Vatankhah, Elham
Carbohydrate polymers 2019 v.209 pp. 389-399
alginates, electric potential, electrospraying, empirical models, engineering, hydrogels, mass transfer, microbeads, particle size, response surface methodology
Alginate spherical hydrogel beads have several applications in biomedical and biological processes in which the bead size and sphericity are critical factors affecting mass transfer phenomena. Electrospraying technology facilitates generation of small and almost uniform beads with higher diffusion rate resulting in process performance improvement. There are several key factors affecting particle size and shape behavior of electrosprayed alginate beads meanwhile interactions between these factors introduce complexity in determining appropriate conditions to produce spherical beads with the size of interest. Thus, the need to achieve reliable products has put growing emphasis on the use of modeling methodology to establish correlations between particle size and affecting variables as well as sphericity coefficient and meaningful factors. Obviously, a more applicable model based on intentionally manipulatable factors would spark a great deal of interest for practical engineering applications. In this regard we employed a central composite design (CCD) and response surface methodology (RSM) to model the diameter and sphericity coefficient of electrosprayed alginate beads for the first time. Two quadratic models were obtained in which the effectiveness order of the variables were found. We could benefit from this RSM-based empirical model not only for better understanding the complex physics of the electrospraying process, but also for selection of factors and their levels to produce alginate micro-beads with appropriate size and sphericity. The results indicate that the alginate concentration, voltage and needle size have the strongest influence on both response variables. The quite spherical beads with a minimum size of 130 μm can be obtained at alginate concentration of 1.5%, voltage of 11 kV, and needle size of 26 G.