The use of mucilage extracted from Opuntia ficus indica as microencapsulating shell

Hanedi Elhleli, Faten Mannai, Ramzi Khiari, Younes Moussaoui


This study aimed to investigate the micro-formulation of capsules, using natural biopolymers such as cactus mucilage, carboxymethyl cellulose and chitosan as a wall material, for the transport and supply of sunflower oil. Mucilages were extracted from Opuntia ficus indica by precipitation at different supernatant pH values. The extracted natural polysaccharide and the resulting microcapsules were characterised by different experimental techniques. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy analysis of the CM showed the presence of uronic acid units and sugars. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that most particles were adhered together, causing the formation of compact, linked agglomerates, which resulted in different microstructures with irregular shapes. All oil-core microcapsules were characterised, and the results showed that the different shell materials could be used to microencapsulate sunflower oil. Among them, the microcapsule crosslinked with the CM and Chi was the most suitable, with the highest encapsulation efficiency (95%). This coacervation led to the narrowest size distribution of capsules, with diameters ranging from 1 to 5 μm. Optical microscopy confirmed the deposition of coacervate droplets around oil drops and clearly showed that the formation of coacervated particles and their deposition onto oil droplets were successive events.


Opuntia ficus indica; extraction; microcapsules; mucilage cactus

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