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Electrospinning and Characterization of Novel Opuntia ficus-indica Mucilage Biomembrane

  • Sylvia W. Thomas (a1), Norma A. Alcantar (a2) and Yanay Pais (a1)


Opuntia ficus-indica (Ofi) cactus non-gelling (NE) mucilage nanofibers were electrospun with acetic acid solution and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) as a polymer. The best fiber coverage was achieved with an aqueous 50% acetic acid solution and 9% low molecular weight PVA at a 70:30 PVA:Mucilage volume ratio. Other volume ratios (30:70 and 50:50) produced beads and other deformities. Fibers were formed with an average diameter of 180nm as measured by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). Favorable electrospinning conditions were used to fabricate a 1 cm x 1 cm Ofi nanofiber biomembrane. Heat flow (W/g) versus temperature peaks ranged from 214 – 222°C, which is comparable to endothermic peak ranges observed for crystalline PVA. This could possibly further indicate some form of crystallinity within the Ofi nanofiber membrane. The electrospun process used precursors that were biodegradable, non-toxic, and sustainable to optimize the mucilage nanofiber formation, which will help enhance the potential performance of the Ofi nanofiber biomembrane in filtration and sensory systems.


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