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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 18;8(6):e65654. Print 2013.

Effect of Strongly Alkaline Electrolyzed Water on Silk Degumming and the Physical Properties of the Fibroin Fiber.

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  • 1Silk Biotechnology Laboratory, School of Biology and Basic Medical Sciences, Soochow University, National Engineering Laboratory for Modern Silk, Soochow University, Suzhou, P.R. China.


Strongly alkaline electrolyzed water (SAEW) was prepared by electrolysis of tap water in a laboratory-made water electrolyzer. The pH of stored SAEW was stable for more than one month. The hardness of the electrolyzed water was 30% lower and the Na+ concentration was 18% higher than those of the tap water. Silkworm cocoon shells were boiled in pH 11.50 SAEW at a ratio of 1∶40∼80 (W/V) for 20 min and the sericin layers around the silk fibroin fibers were removed completely. The tensile properties and thermal decomposition temperature of a single filament of silk fibroin obtained by the SAEW method were almost the same as those for the fiber obtained by the neutral soap, and much higher than those for the fiber obtained by Na2CO3 degumming. The results demonstrate that SAEW is an environmentally friendly and pollution-free silk degumming agent that allows highly efficient, low cost recovery of sericin.

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