Assessment of parameters influencing fiber characteristics of chitosan nanofiber membrane to optimize fiber mat production
Electrospun chitosan nanofiber mats have been obtained using chitosan solutions in a mixture of trifluoroacetic acid and dichloromethane. The relationship between processing parameters (solvent composition, polymer concentration in the solution, feeding rate, applied voltage, traveling distance between the needle, and the collector) and fiber morphology was studied. Taguchi's methodology was followed to determine which parameters have the strongest influence on mean fiber diameter and fiber homogeneity. Chitosan nanofibers obtained with this procedure were water soluble due to the protonation of amine side groups but were successfully neutralized by immersion in calcium carbonate solutions. It was established that fiber diameter is mainly determined by the solution concentration and the distance from the needle to the collector while other parameters have less influence. The set of parameters that produce the thinnest fibers were a concentration of 8 wt%, a TFA/DCM ratio of 80:20 (v/v%), a voltage of 30 kV, a flow rate of 6.0 mL/h, a gap distance of 10 cm, using a needle diameter of 0.5, allowing to produce randomly oriented mats with a mean fiber thickness of 66 nm.