The stabilization mechanism of natural rubber (NR) latex from Hevea brasiliensis was studied to investigate the components involved in base-catalyzed ester hydrolysis, namely, hydrolyzable lipids, ammonia, and the products responsible for the desired phenomenon observed in ammonia-preserved NR latex. Latex stability is generally thought to come from a rubber particle (RP) dispersion in the serum, which is encouraged by negatively charged species distributed on the RP surface. The mechanical stability time (MST) and zeta potential were measured to monitor field latices preserved in high (FNR-HA) and low ammonia (FNR-LA) contents as well as that with the ester-containing components removed (saponified NR) at different storage times. Amounts of carboxylates of free fatty acids (FFAs), which were released by the transformation and also hypothesized to be responsible for the like-charge repulsion of RPs, were measured as the higher fatty acid (HFA) number and corroborated by confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) both qualitatively and quantitatively. The lipids and their FFA products interact differently with Nile red, which is a lipid-selective and polarity-sensitive fluorophore, and consequently re-emit characteristically. The results were confirmed by conventional ester content determination utilizing different solvent extraction systems to reveal that the lipids hydrolyzed to provide negatively charged fatty acid species were mainly the polar lipids (glycolipids and phospholipids) at the RP membrane but not those directly linked to the rubber molecule and, to a certain extent, those suspended in the serum. From new findings disclosed herein together with those already reported, a new model for the Hevea rubber particle in the latex form is proposed.
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