Fabrication, Characterization, and Microbial Biodegradation of Transparent Nanodehydrated Bioplastic (NDB) Membranes Using Novel Casting, Dehydration, and Peeling Techniques
NDBs were fabricated from gum Arabic (GA) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) in different ratios using novel techniques (casting, dehydration, and peeling). The GA/PVA blends were cast with a novel vibration-free horizontal flow (VFHF) technique, producing membranes free of air bubble defects with a homogenous texture, smooth surface, and constant thickness. The casting process was achieved on a self-electrostatic template (SET) made of poly-(methyl methacrylate), which made peeling the final product membranes easy due to its non-stick behavior. After settling the casting of the membranous, while blind, the sheets were dried using nanometric dehydration under a mild vacuum stream using a novel stratified nano-dehydrator (SND) loaded with P2O5. After drying the NDB, the dry, smooth membranes were peeled easily without scratching defects. The physicochemical properties of the NDBs were investigated using FTIR, XRD, TGA, DTA, and AFM to ensure that the novel techniques did not distort the product quality. The NDBs retained their virgin characteristics, namely, their chemical functional groups (FTIR results), crystallinity index (XRD data), thermal stability (TGA and DTA), and ultrastructural features (surface roughness and permeability), as well as their microbial biodegradation ability. Adding PVA enhanced the membrane&rsquo;s properties except for mass loss, whereby increasing the GA allocation in the NDB blend reduces its mass loss at elevated temperatures. The produced bioplastic membranes showed suitable mechanical properties for food packaging applications and in the pharmaceutical industry for the controlled release of drugs. In comparison to control samples, the separated bacteria and fungi destroyed the bioplastic membranes. Pseudomonas spp. and Bacillus spp. were the two main strains of isolated bacteria, and Rhizobus spp. was the main fungus. The nano-dehydration method gave the best solution for the prompt drying of water-based biopolymers free of manufacturing defects, with simple and easily acquired machinery required for the casting and peeling tasks, in addition to its wonderful biodegradation behavior when buried in wet soil.