In this paper we investigate the effect of core-shell structure of Sodium Alginate based hydrogel beads and their size on certain activation threshold concentration of water for applications in swelling and pH sensing. This type of hydrogel experiences diffusive pressure due to transport of certain free charges across its interface with a solvent or electrolyte. This process is essentially a dynamic equilibrium of the electric force field, stress in the polymeric network with cage like structure and molecular diffusion including phase transformation due to pressure imbalance between the hydrogel and its surroundings. The effect of pH of the solvant on the swelling rate of these beads has been studied experimentally. A mathematical model of the swelling process has been developed by considering Nernst–Planck equation representing the migration of mobile ions and H+ ions, Poisson equation representing the equilibrium of the electric field and mechanical field equation representing swelling of the gel. An attempt has been made to predict the experimentally observed phenomena using these numerical simulations. It is observed experimentally that certain minimum concentration called activation threshold concentration of the water molecules must be present in the hydrogel in order to activate the swelling process. For the required activation threshold concentration of water in the beads, the pH induced change in the rate of swelling is also investigated. This effect is analyzed for various different core-shell structures of the beads.

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