THE STRUCTURE AND MECHANICAL PROPERTIES OF SPINES FROM THE CACTUS OPUNTIA FICUS-INDICA

Wolfgang Gindl-Altmutter, Jozef Keckes

Abstract


The mechanical properties and structure of cactus Opuntia ficus-indica spines were characterised in bending and by means of x-ray diffraction. Using spruce wood cell walls for reference, the modulus of elasticity of Opuntia cactus spines was high in absolute terms, but comparable when specific values were considered, which can be explained by similarities in the cell wall structure of both materials. Differently from the modulus of elasticity, the bending strength of cactus spines was unexpectedly high both in absolute and in specific terms. The unique cellulose-arabinan composite structure of cactus spines, together with high cellulose crystallinity, may explain this finding.

Keywords


Cactus spines; Cellulose; Stiffness; Strength

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