Alginate: How its Utilization is Booming Across Industries

Introduction to Alginate

In the Initial years, alginates were primarily used as an additive and ingredient in the food industry; however recently, alginate has become an essential compound for a broad range of industries and applications like the medical, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics sectors. In the food industry, alginates have been consistently used to coat fruits and vegetables, as a microbial and viral protection product, and as a gelling, thickening, stabilizing, or emulsifying agent.

Alginate is a natural compound obtained from marine brown algae and has been broadly used as additives and ingredients in the food industry. However, due to their favorable characteristics like biocompatibility, nontoxicity, biodegradability, and functional versatility with many matrices and substrates, alginates have been utilized for the development of wound dressings.

Alginate based on the product

1. Propylene Glycol Alginate

Propylene glycol alginate refers to an ester of alginic acid. This type of alginate is broadly utilized as a stabilizer, thickener, and emulsifier across various industries that involve food, pharmaceutical, and personal care, and cosmetics. Considering the food application segment, the product is accepted as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and significantly utilized as an ingredient in numerous food preparations.

2. Calcium Alginate

Calcium alginate finds potential application in the pharmaceutical industry because of the massive consumption volume of the product. The demand for calcium alginate in the pharmaceutical industry is propelled by the expanding usage use of wound dressing and wound care. Furthermore, calcium alginate fibers are widely used to promote wound healing and is primarily used for wounds that display drainage or fluid excretion.

3. Sodium Alginate

Sodium alginate dominates a significant revenue share of the alginate industry across the globe. This is because of its massive utilization in the preparation of different food items including whipped creams, dressings, sauces, and jellies. The product gives high stability to the dairy items, like dry and refined cheese, and is utilized to decrease the cracking of icing of cakes and pastries.

4. Potassium Alginate

We can consider potassium alginate as a potassium salt of alginic and it is broadly utilized in the pharmaceutical sector because of its superior thickening and stabilizing characteristics. This product is highly useful in nutritional and functional foods as it assists in lowering down the blood cholesterol and blood sugar.

Alginate and its applications

The uses of alginates are determined by three primary characteristics. The first property is their capability to thicken the resulting solution when dissolved in water. The second being their ability to form gels; gels are formed when a calcium salt is added to a solution of sodium alginate in water. The third property of alginates is their ability to make films of sodium or calcium alginate and fibers of calcium alginates.

1. Food

In sauces and in syrups and toppings for ice cream, the thickening property of alginate is very useful. Pastry softening by liquid from the filling is decreased with the process of thickening pie fillings with alginate. By adding alginate, icings become non-sticky and help the baking goods to be covered with plastic wrap.

A few of the fruit drinks contain added fruit pulp and it is suggested to maintain this in suspension; inclusion of sodium alginate or propylene glycol alginate (PGA) in acidic conditions can reduce sedimentation of the pulp. In chocolate milk, the cocoa can be placed in suspension by an alginate mixture. Calcium alginate coatings facilitate the preservation of frozen fish. If the fish is frozen in a calcium alginate jelly, the fish can be prevented from the air, and rancidity from oxidation can be minimized.

2. Textile Printing

In textile printing, alginates are utilized as thickeners for the paste having the dye. We can easily apply these pastes to the fabric by either screen or roller printing tool. Alginates have now become important thickeners with the emergence of reactive dyes. These merge chemically with cellulose in the fabric. The majority of the conventional thickeners like starch react with the reactive dyes and this result in lesser color yields and sometimes by-products that are not simply washed out.

Alginates are not capable of reacting dyes; they easily wash out of the resulting textile and are the ideal thickeners for reactive dyes. Alginates are more costly than starch and in the last few years, starch manufacturers have attempted to create modified starches that do not react with the reactive dyes.

Last words:

Alginate has proved itself as an important pharmaceutical and biomedical drug delivery tool due to its versatile beneficial properties. Particularly in the domain of controlled released delivery, wound healing, and tissue engineering. The major characteristics of alginate for these applications are biocompatibility, non-toxicity, mild gelation, and simple modification technique.

Owing to the various benefits of alginate in different industries, we can expect the high growth of the alginate market over the forecast period.