392455 Reactive Blending of Protein Rich Meals and Biodegradable Polymers for Green Packaging
Plastics are highly valued materials because of their low cost and extraordinary versatility and they constitute the second largest application of petroleum next to energy. Efforts to replace commodity plastics based packaging materials with biodegradable counterparts are usually hampered by strong completion with cheaper petroleum-based polymers and limited performance. Blending of relatively expensive biodegradable polymers such as poly (butylene succinate) (PBS), poly (butylene adipate co-terephthalate) (PBAT), and polycaprolactone (PCL) with low value and cheap agricultural feedstock can reduce the cost of the resulting materials while maintaining their biodegradability. For example, the use of less expensive protein rich meals such as soybean meal, canola meal, corn meal etc. obtained from the food and biodiesel industry as co-reactants of biodegradable polymers in green packaging applications is expected to reduce the cost competitiveness barrier. Reactive extrusion processing could be one of the potential techniques with a lot of promise for future development of biodegradable plastics. This is because, it is a continuous and cost effective polymer processing techniques that allows melt blending and various other chemical reactions including (co) polymerization, compatibilizing, grafting, branching and functionalization without the need for solvents. The direct use of relatively cheap soy protein meal in the reactive blending, and study of compatibilization chemistry to develop a cost competitive green packaging films are the main objectives of this research. The soy meal underwent through three types of fermentations to de-structurize the ingredients of the soy meal including simple sugars and cellulose that hinders film making behavior. Post-fermentation, the protein and pectin concentrations in the soy meal have significantly increased. Also, plastic films made out of the blending of the fermented soymeal and PBAT exhibited a significant performance improvement.
Acknowledgement: The financial supports from 1) the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food (OMAF) and Ministry of Rural Affairs (MRA) - University of Guelph Bioeconomy-industrial uses research program; 2) OMAF-MRA New Directions Research Program; and 3) the Ontario Research Fund (ORF) Research Excellence (RE) Round-4 from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation (MEDI) and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Discovery grant individual (to Mohanty) to carry out this research are gratefully acknowledged.
See more of this Group/Topical: Forest and Plant Bioproducts Division - See also ICE