Submitted to: Biomacromolecules
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/30/2007
Publication Date: 1/1/2007
Citation: Selling, G.W., Biswas, A., Patel, A., Walls, D.J., Dunlap, C.A., Wei, Y. 2007. Impact of solvent on electrospinning of zein and analysis of resulting fibers. Biomacromolecules. 208:(9)1002-1010.
Interpretive Summary: Historically zein, one of the dominant co-products of the bio-ethanol industry, was used in textile fibers. In this application its properties were similar to that of wool and polyacrylonitrile (Orlon). In order to be used in this application, zein was chemically modified. The techniques used would be costly to perform today. Efforts are being put forth to produce improved zein formulations, however, there has been no easy method for producing zein fibers. We have shown that zein fibers can be produced cheaply by using the electrospinning technique. The amount of zein needed to produce fibers is very small, which allows for small scale reactions. Non-woven fabrics can be produced using this technique and the properties of these fabrics can be evaluated using standard tests and compared to products already in use. This research will benefit all parties involved in the bio-ethanol industry by providing a means to evaluate formulations of a major co-product of this industry. Results from these evaluations will guide research efforts to deliver a higher-valued product in less time.
Technical Abstract: Zein fibers have been produced by electrospinning from acetic acid, aqueous methanol, ethanol and iso-propanol. Alcohol solutions produced fibers that were predominantly ribbons. Fibers spun from acetic acid solution have a round morphology with a narrower distribution of diameters when spun under suitable conditions. The IR spectra of electrospun fibers displayed spectral differences indicating a change in structure between the spun fiber and starting material. Ramen spectra of fibers spun from acetic acid solution had spectral differences versus fibers spun from alcoholic solvents suggesting different tertiary structure within the fiber, resulting from different structures in solution. Quality fibers could not be produced from dimethylformamide acetone/water, acetic acid/water, 8M urea or 10% NaOH water zein solutions. All of the fibers had some degree of birefringence demonstrating the presence of orientation. The larger fibers had orientation at the surface only. The smaller fibers were highly birefringent throughout the fiber.