Preparation, Properties, Protein Cross-Linking and Biodegradability of Plasticizer-Solvent Free Hemp Fibre Reinforced Wheat Gluten, Glutenin, and Gliadin Composites

Faraz Muneer, Eva Johansson, Mikael S. Hedenqvist, Mikael Gällstedt, William Roy Newson

Abstract


The present study is aimed at evaluating the use of plant-based polymers and fibres for the production of sustainable biocomposites. For the first time, plasticiser/solvent-free hemp fibre-reinforced wheat gluten and hemp-gliadin and glutenin composites were obtained by compression moulding at different temperatures. The plasticiser/solvent-free sample preparation method developed in this study facilitated the use of a powdered protein matrix with a mat of randomly oriented hemp fibres. The tensile and protein cross-linking properties, as well as the biodegradability, were investigated. The addition of hemp fibre to the protein matrix increased the E-modulus by 20 to 60% at 130 °C. An increase in moulding temperature from 110 to 130 °C resulted in an increase in maximum stress due to the formation of intermolecular bonds between protein chains. The gliadin composites had higher E-modulus and maximum stress and showed a larger increase in protein polymerisation with increased temperature compared to the glutenin composites. A comparison of tensile properties revealed that the composites were stiffer and stronger compared to several similarly produced biobased composites. The composites were found to be fully biodegradable under a simulated soil environment after 180 days. Biocomposites produced in the present study were found to be environmentally friendly with fairly good mechanical properties.

Keywords


Wheat gluten; Hemp fibre; Biocomposites; Compression moulding; Tensile properties; Protein cross-linking; Biodegradability

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