doi:10.1038/nindia.2015.31 Published online 9 March 2015
Researchers have synthesized an ecofriendly rope that can be used to cultivate seaweed in seawater1. They produced the rope from polysaccharides isolated from seaweeds. The rope materials could also potentially be used for producing items such as household bowls, hollow tubes and earring studs.
To devise biodegradable materials to replace plastics, the researchers prepared solutions of polysaccharides isolated from three seaweeds: Gracilaria dura, Gelidiella acerosa and Kappaphycus alvarezii. They then added potassium persulphate and vinyl acetate to these solutions, heated them, added glycerol, and allowed the solutions to cool to room temperature.
The researchers found that the materials made using polysaccharides derived from Gracilaria dura showed the highest mechanical strength. They then shaped the materials into ropes and tested their ability to cultivate seaweeds by using the ropes to tie fragments of seaweed and monitoring the growth of the seaweed in open seawater. They found that the weight of the seaweed increased from 100 grams to 400 grams in 45 days.
“The rope materials are flexible, twistable, foldable and knittable, suggesting that they could be used for multiple purposes,” says lead researcher Ramavatar Meena.
1. Chaudhary, J. P. et al. Seaweed-derived polymeric materials for multiapplications including marine algal cultivation. RSC Adv. 5,19426–19431 (2015)