Polymer extraction and utilization of brown algal biomass

Sammanfattning: Aquaculture is a field with a world changing potential. The areas at sea are enormous and aquatic cultivations impact both the environment and local ecology far less than land based cultivations. In the realm of algae, abundancies exists of nutrition, water and accessible sunlight, but there is constant shortage of places to dwell. In an algae farm, the algae are given free space to dwell on a seeding line, the growth is massive. In the Swedish research project Seafarm, which this work belongs to, a 4500 m long line gives 15 kg/m of Saccharina latissima brown algae in each harvest. This is a thesis on how to process the algal biomass and generate materials. The algal component alginate, which is a natural charged polymer, is the main thread along the entire thesis, both in the beginning, when focus lies on extraction and in the end when alginate materials are made.In an algal extraction-study the impact of chelation-strength parameter was assessed. Salts with different ability to chelate ions were used in the extraction process, sodium citrate was found to be the most promising extraction salt to liberate alginate.A cyclic process, in which a sodium citrate solution was regenerated and reused, was developed and assessed. An interesting effect of the new process was that it allowed for a fractionation of alginate into several qualities with different uronic acid composition (the two building blocks of alginate). This fractionation was scaled up to supply enough alginate to support a material study to evaluate the individual properties of the different fractions.Alginate gel filaments were made by extruding alginate into calcium chloride solution, in which if forms gels. Certain gels were also exposed to aluminum chloride. The filaments were tested for their tensile properties. An interesting trend in the relation between gel strength and uronic acid composition also inspired a theoretical study to establish the mechanism behind the observed trends. Gel-filaments were drawn in solutions of different alginate interacting salts, then dried into thin filaments and subjected to tensile testing. The treatments increased the modulus of the filaments and also increased their stress-at-break. The tensile properties were comparable to that of other natural derived fibers such as hemp fiber or cotton cellulose.Compatibilizers were developed to tune the surface energy of the filaments and approach that of polymers used in fiber reinforced composites. The compatibilizers were made of linseed oil that was grafted with maleic anhydride to attach charged groups. The graft modified oil was added to alginate filaments which were tensile-tested.

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