Polymers (Basel). 2023 Aug 8;15(16):3342. doi: 10.3390/polym15163342.
Ulva rigida green seaweed is an abundant biomass consisting of polysaccharides and protein mixtures and a potential bioresource for bioplastic food packaging. This research prepared and characterized novel biodegradable films from Ulva rigida extracts. The water-soluble fraction of Ulva rigida was extracted and prepared into bioplastic films. 1H nuclear magnetic resonance indicated the presence of rhamnose, glucuronic and sulfate polysaccharides, while major amino acid components determined via high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were aspartic acid, glutamic acid, alanine and glycine. Seaweed extracts were formulated with glycerol and triethyl citrate (20% and 30%) and prepared into films. Ulva rigida films showed non-homogeneous microstructures, as determined via scanning electron microscopy, due to immiscible crystalline component mixtures. X-ray diffraction also indicated modified crystalline morphology due to different plasticizers, while infrared spectra suggested interaction between plasticizers and Ulva rigida polymers via hydrogen bonding. The addition of glycerol decreased the glass transition temperature of the films from -36 °C for control films to -62 °C for films with 30% glycerol, indicating better plasticization. Water vapor and oxygen permeability were retained at up to 20% plasticizer content, and further addition of plasticizers increased the water permeability up to 6.5 g·mm/m2·day·KPa, while oxygen permeability decreased below 20 mL·mm/m2·day·atm when blending plasticizers at 30%. Adding glycerol efficiently improved tensile stress and strain by up to 4- and 3-fold, respectively. Glycerol-plasticized Ulva rigida extract films were produced as novel bio-based materials that supported sustainable food packaging.