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Chemosphere. 2004 Jan;54(4):551-9.

Biodegradability of wheat gluten based bioplastics.

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  • 1Laboratory of Cereal Technology and Agropolymers, ENSA.M--INRA, 2 place Viala, 34060 Montpellier Cedex 1, France.


A large variety of wheat gluten based bioplastics, which were plasticized with glycerol, were subjected to biodegradation. The materials covered the total range available for the biochemical control parameter Fi, which expresses the percentage of aggregated proteins. This quantity can be related to the density of covalent crosslinks in the wheat gluten network, which are induced by technological treatments. The biodegradability tests were performed in liquid medium (modified Sturm test) and in farmland soil. All gluten materials were fully degraded after 36 days in aerobic fermentation and within 50 days in farmland soil. No significant differences were observed between the samples. The mineralization half-life time of 3.8 days in the modified Sturm test situated gluten materials among fast degrading polymers. The tests of microbial inhibition experiments revealed no toxic effects of the modified gluten or of its metabolites. Thus, the protein bulk of wheat gluten materials is non-toxic and fully biodegradable, whatever the technological process applied.

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