Producing micro-size beads from alginate Principle and equipment
Principle Alginate solution +divalent cations (Ca, Ba, etc.)=solidified matrix(gel-like material). If alginate solution is forced into a Micro-droplet shape, the result will be a micro-solid bead (sphere).
…If your experiment requires quantities of micro-beads… You will find production by hand very tiresome, especially when hard beads are needed when using highly viscous alginate solutions. Some equipment is needed
Equipment for producing micro-beads (100-200 mm dia.) • This is essentially a metal sprayer with a very small nozzle. • Droplets form from the internal pressure and are solidified by the calcium solution.
In reality, the device looks like this. Cartridge Microbe filter Bacteria culture + alginate solution Stirred plate Air compressor Air filter
A look at the parts; Cartridge, the “heart” of the system Air inlet Exit nuzzle Copper tube Bacteria culture + alginate solution
Filters, keeps everything clean and non-contaminated Standard microbe filter Air flow Metal tube filled with glass wool Air flow
Nozzle forms the microbeads. Micro-drop formation Compressed air
Formation of microbeads, step by step… • Clean, pressurized air stream sucks liquid from flask. • Micro-droplets exit from the narrow nozzle. • Micro-droplets are formed separately during trajectory into collection pan. Stream of droplets Bacteria culture + alginate solution
And again from a different angle Bacteria culture + alginate solution To the container Stream of droplets
As the micro-droplets hit the calcium chloride solution, they immediately form micro-beads. Rotary shaker (not shown) shakes container. Stream of droplets CaCl2 Micro-beads are formed instantly. The usually transparent micro-beads were colored for this demonstration.
Micro-beads after formation And, if you look at the circle close enough …
Microphoto of micro-beads attached to wheat seeds before sowing. Micro-beads Wheat seed Natural color Artificially colored for demonstration
Other applications? “The sky is the limit.” Use your imagination.
Some unexpected benefits: • Procedure requires very little human or electrical energy. • This is a new technology and described in respected scientific journals, so your “brilliant” paper will not be rejected for using an untried method. • As an environmentally-friendly technology, it will make you look good. • Production is fast, which gives you time for an evening at the movies or lounging in front of the TV. • Have fun…..