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Macromol Biosci. 2006 Jul 14;6(7):524-31.

Effects of cellulose whiskers on properties of soy protein thermoplastics.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China.


Environmentally-friendly SPI/cellulose whisker composites were successfully prepared using a colloidal suspension of cellulose whiskers, to reinforce soy protein isolate (SPI) plastics. The cellulose whiskers, having an average length of 1.2 microm and diameter of 90 nm, respectively, were prepared from cotton linter pulp by hydrolyzing with sulfuric acid aqueous solution. The effects of the whisker content on the morphology and properties of the glycerol-plasticized SPI composites were investigated by scanning electron microscopy, dynamic mechanical thermal analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy, water-resistivity testing and tensile testing. The results indicated that, with the addition of 0 to 30 wt.-% of cellulose whiskers, strong interactions occurred both between the whiskers and between the filler and the SPI matrix, reinforcing the composites and preserving their biodegradability. Both the tensile strength and Young's modulus of the SPI/cellulose whisker composites increased from 5.8 to 8.1 MPa and from 44.7 to 133.2 MPa, respectively, at a relative humidity of 43%, following an increase of the whisker content from 0 to 30 wt.-%. Furthermore, the incorporation of the cellulose whiskers into the SPI matrix led to an improvement in the water resistance for the SPI-based composites.

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