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Investigating the Rheological Behavior of Hydroxyethyl Cellulose Solutions

Views: 0     Author: Site Editor     Publish Time: 2023-09-12      Origin: Site


Hydroxyethyl Cellulose (HEC) is a water-soluble, non-ionic cellulose ether. It is extensively used in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and food industries due to its gelling, thickening, emulsifying and stabilizing properties. The rheological behavior of HEC solutions is essential in determining its suitability for various applications. This paper aims to investigate the rheological behavior of HEC solutions and to provide insights into its industrial applications.

Experimental Methods

A series of HEC solutions with varying concentrations (0.1-2.5% w/v) were prepared in water. The rheological behavior of the HEC solutions was measured using a Rheometer (Anton Paar MCR302, Austria). Different parameters, including viscosity, shear rate, shear stress, and elasticity, were determined using both rotational and oscillatory shear modes.

Results and Discussion

The viscosity of the HEC solutions increased considerably with increasing HEC concentration, as shown in figure 1. At low HEC concentrations, the solutions exhibited Newtonian behavior, which means that the viscosity did not change with increasing shear rate. However, for higher concentrations, the solutions exhibited shear-thinning behavior, whereby viscosity decreased with increasing shear rate. This observation is because of the entanglement of polymer chains with increasing concentration, leading to increased resistance to deformation at lower shear rates.

Figure 1. Viscosity versus concentration (0.1-2.5% w/v) curves of HEC solutions.

The shear-thinning behavior observed in the HEC solutions is a characteristic of many polymer solutions and is advantageous in applications such as coatings and printing inks. Shear-thinning behavior enables easy application and spreading of the solution, while the high viscosity ensures good coverage and adhesion. For example, HEC is used as a thickener and binder in water-based paints and printing inks, where it promotes flow, increases the stability of the emulsion, and prevents sedimentation.

Figure 2 shows the shear stress versus shear rate curves of the HEC solutions at various concentrations. The curves exhibit a linear relationship at low shear rates, indicating that HEC solutions exhibit a shear plateau. Above a certain shear rate, the slopes of the curves decreased, indicative of shear-thinning behavior. The linear region is known as the plateau region, and it represents a state where the HEC molecules are highly entangled, allowing little to no deformation.

Figure 2. Shear stress versus shear rate curves of HEC solutions with varying concentrations.

The G” (elastic modulus) values of the HEC solutions were determined using the oscillatory shear mode. As shown in figure 3, the G” values increased with increasing concentration, indicating a more rigid and elastic material. This property of HEC is critical in applications such as drug delivery, where the material needs to maintain its shape and form for an extended period in the body. HEC is also used in personal care products such as hair gel or lotion, where a high elasticity results in good hold or styling.

Figure 3. Elastic modulus (G”) versus frequency curves of HEC solutions in water.


In conclusion, the rheological behavior of HEC solutions was determined using a Rheometer (Anton Paar MCR302, Austria). The HEC solutions exhibited shear-thinning behavior, with the viscosity decreasing with increasing shear rate at high concentrations. The observed behavior is essential in various applications, such as coatings and printing inks, where easy application and good coverage are needed. The HEC solutions were also found to exhibit a shear plateau and high elasticity, characteristics that make them ideal for industrial usages such as drug delivery and personal care products. These findings provide insights into the industrial applications of HEC solutions and the importance of understanding their rheology for achieving desirable properties in different applications.