A Study on the Extrusion of Soy Protein Film Incorporated with Soy-Derived Cellulose Fibers
A biodegradable alternative to synthetic plastics was explored in this study through the extrusion of a soy-based protein/fiber composite film. Two fractions of fibers with different size distributions (nano- to micro-) were isolated from soy pods and stems using a chemi-mechanical method. Fibers through successive treatments were characterized via microscopy, x-ray diffraction, and Fourier Transform infrared analysis (FTIR). The continuous extrusion of homogenous SPI film (0.08 to 0.3 mm thick) was reported for the first time. Processing window was limited by protein sensitivity to moisture and heat. With the incorporation of extracted fibers, homogenous films were obtained with a concentration below 0.5% w/w fiber/SPI. Increasing fiber content resulted in the formation of aggregates. At the optimal concentration of 0.25% w/w fiber/SPI, films exhibited mild improvements in mechanical performance most noticeable at a high RH (84%). Film properties with and without fiber addition were negatively affected by relative humidity. Titanium dioxide addition suggested mild coupling effects for SPI and fiber.