Submitted to: Composites Part A Applied Science and Manufacturing
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/29/2009
Publication Date: 11/1/2009
Citation: Kim, S., Xu, J., Liu, S.X. 2010. Production of Biopolymer Composites by Particle Bonding. Composites Part A. 41:146-153.
Interpretive Summary: With the rising concern for environmental protection, biodegradable polymers and bio-composites have attracted considerable attention as green materials and biocompatible materials in pharmaceutical, medical and biomedical engineering applications, including drug delivery systems, artificial implants and functional materials in tissue engineering. Recently, many research groups have concentrated on the development of biodegradable polymer blends or composites from starch, corn gluten meal, wheat gluten, and corn protein. This report introduces a new method for the production of biodegradable polymer composites. This technology requires neither extrusion nor processing at high temperatures. Instead, micrometer-scale raw materials (powders) are coated with a corn protein, and compressed to form a rigid material. Since this technology does not require purification of raw materials except zein, various types of compounds can be used as component materials. This research offers a new process for the production of degradable biopolymer composites. Scientists/manufacturers in industry and academia developing new polymer materials would benefit.
Technical Abstract: This report describes a new technology to produce biopolymer composites at room temperature. During the process, micrometer-scale raw material is coated with zein that has strong adhesive property, which is then compressed to form a rigid material. Since this technology does not require purification of the raw materials, various types of compounds can be used as component materials. The coating of particles with zein makes use of the unique property of zein in aqueous ethanol solution. Zein molecules adsorb to the surface of hydrophilic particles when the ethanol content of solvent mixture increases. Formation of aggregates is followed to form large agglomerates. Removal of solvents from the agglomerates yields the final product. Biopolymer composites thus formed showed a broad range of compressive strengths depending on the hardness of the starting raw material used as a base component.