Preparation and characterization of seaweed encapsulated into chitosan beads
Current case in modern agriculture industry has shown that application of agrochemicals has led to high cost of production and serious environmental pollution. In this study, a natural organism known as seaweed, a renewable bio-resources originated from the sea has been chosen to be encapsulated in chitosan hydrogel. The rationale to use seaweed is because it is common in agriculture and horticulture, that the application of seaweed could promote growth, prevent pests and diseases. The seaweed was encapsulated at different concentrations (w/v%) of 5%-20% in chitosan solution using sodium tripolyphosphate as a crosslinker. The encapsulated seaweed in chitosan has been made into beads to suit the application as fertilizer beads. The analysis of FTIR for all beads confirmed the encapsulation took place when both functional groups of the host, chitosan and the guest, seaweed existed together in all the FTIR spectra of the chitosan-seaweed beads. CHNS further confirmed quantitatively that addition of seaweed at various concentrations into the chitosan beads showed increased percentage of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulphur content accordingly. The swelling test showed that when seaweed was encapsulated into the chitosan beads, the swelling percentage decreased accordingly with the increase in concentration of seaweed. This is due to the seaweed filling up the voids in the chitosan thus limiting the uptake of water into the system. The morphology study by SEM supported the results of swelling test, agglomeration of large particles surface out accordingly to the concentration of seaweed when the void spaces has been fulfilled. It could be perceived that the encapsulated seaweed chitosan beads is a promising material to the agriculture sector; promoting plant growth which could enhance the income of the farmers and yet safe to the human and environment.
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