Sodium alginate, the sodium salt of alginic acid, is a polysaccharide harvested from algae, specifically brown seaweeds. Due to its similar function to cellulose in plants, sodium alginate possesses a structural integrity which results in a viscous gum that forms when it interacts with and absorbs water. Because of this, sodium alginate lends itself to applications in the food industry where it thickens solutions, dehydrates and/or expands upon the presence of water, or serves as a protective gel or coating for drug delivery. To produce these end products, manufacturers and researchers must be able to identify and relate the physical properties of sodium alginate samples with specific molecular properties, such as molecular weight, intrinsic viscosity, and molecular size, that are appropriate for each application. As such, the accurate analysis and molecular weight characterization of sodium alginate is of paramount importance.
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