Mechanisms of formation and disintegration of alginate beads obtained by prilling

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In this paper, compendial sodium alginate beads have been manufactured by laminar jet break-up technology. The effect of polymer concentration, viscosity and polymeric solution flow rate on the characteristics of beads was studied. Size distribution of alginate beads in the hydrated state was strongly dependent on the flow rate and viscosity of polymer solutions, since a transition from laminar jet break-up conditions to vibration-assisted dripping was observed. The re-hydration kinetics of dried beads in simulated gastric fluid (SGF) showed that the maximum swelling of beads was reached after 1–2 h, with an increase in volume of two to three times and a time lag dependent on the polymer concentration. The re-hydration swelling profiles in simulated intestinal fluid (SIF) showed no time lag and higher swelling volume; moreover, in this medium after the maximum swelling was reached, the bead structure was quickly disaggregated because of the presence in the medium of phosphate able to capture calcium ions present in the alginate gel structure.

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