Journal of Polymers and the Environment

, Volume 26, Issue 9, pp 3967–3980 | Cite as

Biodegradable IPN Hydrogels Based on Pre-vulcanized Natural Rubber and Cassava Starch as Coating Membrane for Environment-Friendly Slow-Release Urea Fertilizer

  • Chaiwute Vudjung
  • Sayant SaengsuwanEmail author
Original Paper


Biodegradable interpenetrating polymer network (IPN) hydrogels based on pre-vulcanized natural rubber (NR) and cassava starch (St) using sulphur (S) and glutaraldehyde (GA) as crosslinkers were developed in a solution form as a coating membrane for slow-release nitrogen fertilizer. The NR/St ratios affecting water swelling, water permeability and biodegradation were investigated. Results revealed that water swelling, water permeability and biodegradation of IPN NR/St hydrogels decreased with increasing NR content. The wax was used as outer coating shell to further improve the release characteristic of the coated urea. The urea bead (UB) coated with IPN NR/St and wax layers (W-IPN-CUB) exhibited exceptional release behavior up to 24 days in soil compared to native UB (3 days). The release mechanisms of W-IPN-CUB in both water and soil environments were a non-Fickian diffusion with n = 0.88 and 0.85, respectively, relating to the diffusion through porous membrane. Also, the W-IPN-CUB was able to slow the leaching of urea fertilizer and significantly improve the performances of corn and basil height compared to native UB (P < 0.05). Thus, the W-IPN-CUB material proved to be a good candidate material for slow release fertilizer which could be widely used in agricultural and horticultural applications.


Latex Hydrogel Natural rubber Starch Fertilizer Solution 



This work was supported by Grants from National Research Council of Thailand (NRCT, 2558A11702208) and Center of Excellence for Innovation in Chemistry (PERCH-CIC), Office of the Higher Education Commission, Ministry of Education (OHEC). Faculty of Science, Ubon Ratchathani University was also acknowledged for some financial support.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no competing financial interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Advanced Polymer and Rubber Materials (APRM), Department of Chemistry, Faculty of ScienceUbon Ratchathani UniversityWarinchamrapThailand
  2. 2.Department of Chemistry and Center of Excellence for Innovation in Chemistry (PERCH-CIC), Faculty of ScienceUbon Ratchathani UniversityWarinchamrapThailand

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