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J Phys Chem B. 2015 Jun 4;119(22):6878-83. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcb.5b03632. Epub 2015 May 27.

In Situ Observations of Thermoreversible Gelation and Phase Separation of Agarose and Methylcellulose Solutions under High Pressure.

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‡The High Pressure Research Center of Science and Technology, Zhengzhou University of Light Industry, Zhengzhou 450002, China.
§Glyn O. Phillips Hydrocolloids Research Centre, School of Food and Pharmaceutical Engineering, Faculty of Light Industry, Hubei University of Technology, Wuchang, Wuhan 430068, China.


Thermoreversible sol-gel transitions of agarose and methylcellulose (MC) aqueous solutions on isobaric cooling or heating under high pressure up to 400 MPa have been investigated by in situ observations of optical transmittance and falling-ball experiments. For agarose, which undergoes the gelation on cooling, the application of pressure caused a gradual rise in the cloud-point temperature over the whole pressure range examined, which is almost consistent with the pressure dependence of gelling temperature estimated by falling-ball experiments, suggesting that agarose gel is stabilized by compression and that the gelation occurs nearly in parallel with phase separation under ambient and high-pressure conditions. For MC, which undergoes the gelation on heating, the cloud-point temperature showed a slight rise with an initial elevation of pressure up to ∼150 MPa, whereas it showed a marked depression above 200 MPa. In contrast, the gelling temperature of MC, which is nearly identical to the cloud-point temperature at ambient pressure, showed a monotonous rise with increasing pressure up to 350 MPa, which means that MC undergoes phase separation prior to gelation on heating under high pressure above 200 MPa. Similar results were obtained for the melting process of MC gel on cooling. The unique behavior of the sol-gel transition of MC under high pressure has been interpreted in terms of the destruction of hydrophobic hydration by compression.

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