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The segregative phase separation behavior of biopolymer mixtures composed entirely of polysaccharides was investigated. First, the electrical, optical, and rheological properties of alginate, modified beet pectin, and unmodified beet pectin solutions were characterized to determine their electrical charge, molecular weight, solubility, and flow behavior. Second, suitable conditions for inducing phase segregation in biopolymer mixtures were established by measuring biopolymer concentrations and segregation times. Third, alginate–beet pectin mixtures were blended at pH 7 to promote segregation and the partitioning of the biopolymers between the upper and lower phases was determined using UV–visible spectrophotometry, colorimetry, and calcium sensitivity measurements. The results revealed that phase separation depended on the overall biopolymer concentration and the degree of biopolymer hydrophobicity. A two-phase system could be formed when modified beet pectins (DE 68%) were used but not when unmodified ones (DE 53%) were used. Our measurements demonstrated that the phase separated systems consisted of a pectin-rich lower phase and an alginate-rich upper phase. These results suggest that novel structures may be formed by utilization of polysaccharide–polysaccharide phase separation. By controlling the product formulation and processing conditions it may therefore be possible to fabricate biopolymer particles with specific dimensions, shapes, and internal structures.




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