• methylcellulose;
  • salt;
  • gelation;
  • differential scanning calorimetry (DSC);
  • rheology


The effect of phosphate buffer saline (PBS) on the thermoreversible sol–gel transition of methylcellulose has been systematically investigated with turbidimetric, microcalorimetric, and rheological methods. In the presence of PBS, the cloud points in the sol–gel transition and the clear points in the gel–sol transition shift to lower temperatures with increasing PBS content. This salting-out effect is considered to be due to the competition between salts and methylcellulose for water molecules involved in the formation or destruction of cagelike water structures. The microcalorimetric studies prove that with increasing PBS content, the endothermic peak temperature decreases, whereas the enthalpy and entropy changes of the sol–gel transition increase. The rheological studies show that the addition of PBS favors the sol–gel transition, but the gel strength is almost independent of the PBS content, indicating an effect of adding salt equivalent to that of increasing the temperature. The results obtained from the rheological, microcalorimetric, and turbidimetric measurements are consistent. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part B: Polym Phys 42: 1849–1860, 2004