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Title: Characterization and application of amadumbe starch nanocrystals in biocomposite films
Authors: Mukurumbira, Agnes R. 
Issue Date: 2017
Amadumbe (Colocasia Esculenta) commonly known as Taro is an underutilized tuber crop that produces underground corms. It is a promising tropical tuber grown in various parts of the world including South Africa, where it is regarded as a traditional food. It is a significant subsistence crop, mostly cultivated in rural areas and by small scale farmers. Amadumbe is adapted to growing in warm and moist conditions. The tubers are characterised by a high moisture content and consequently high post-harvest losses. The losses can be minimized through the utilization of various preservation techniques such as flour and starch production. Amadumbe corms may contain up to 70-80% starch. The starch granules are characterised by a small size and relatively low amylose content. The combination of high starch content, low amylose and small starch granules thus make amadumbe a potentially good candidate for nanocrystal production.

In this study two amadumbe varieties were utilized to extract starch. Amadumbe starch nanocrystals (SNC) were produced using an optimized hydrolysis method. The physicochemical properties (morphology, crystallinity, thermal properties) of the resulting SNC were investigated. The SNC were then applied as fillers in three different matrices namely, amadumbe starch, potato starch and soy protein. The influence of the SNC at varying concentrations (2.5, 5 and 10%) on the physicochemical properties of bio-composite films was examined.

Amadumbe starch produced a substantially high yield (25%) of SNCs. The nanocrystals appeared as aggregated as well as individual particles. The individual nanocrystals exhibited a square-like platelet morphology with sizes ranging from 50-100 nm. FTIR revealed high peak intensities corresponding to O-H stretch, C-H stretch and H2O bending vibrations for SNCs compared to their native starch counterparts. Both the native starch and SNC exhibited the A–type crystalline pattern. However, amadumbe SNCs showed a higher degree of crystallinity possibly due to the removal of the armorphous material during acid hydrolysis to produce SNCs. Amadumbe SNC showed slightly reduced melting temperatures compared to their native starches. The SNC presented similar thermal decomposition properties as compared to their native starches.

In general, the inclusion of SNCs significantly decreased water vapour permeability (WVP) of composite films whilst thermal stability and tensile strength were increased. The degree of improvement in the physicochemical properties of the films varied with the type of matrix as well as the concentration of the nanocrystals. It generally seemed that the enhancement of the physicochemical properties of starch matrices occurred at a lower SNC concentration in comparison to that of soy protein films. Amadumbe SNC can indeed potentially be used as a filler to improve the properties of biodegradable starch and protein films
Submitted in fulfilment of the academic requirement for the Degree of Masters in Food Science and Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Applied Sciences)

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