Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2010
Publication Date: 5/1/2012
Citation: Onwulata, C.I., Thomas-Gahring, A.E., Cooke, P.H., Isobe, S., Carvalho, C. 2012. Protein-based composites and biomaterials. Book Chapter. Biochemical Physics and Biodeterioration New Horizons;48-80. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: World industrialization has generated substantial quantities of petroleum-based plastics over many years, which are not biodegradable or compostable, and are permanently residing on land, in landfills, or in the oceans, as environmental pollution. Recently, total or partially degradable materials have been found to be part of the solution or alternative, to help reduce the impact of petroleum-based plastics. Blending plastics with agriculture-derived materials or with materials made completely from biomass is a growing trend. The art and science of incorporating biomass with petroleum-derived polymers or making completely biodegradable polymers is still in its infancy. Because biomaterials are complex in composition and non uniform in structure, making completely-biobased products to replace polymer products with similar functional properties is challenging. For example, blending protein-based biomaterials with polyethylene (petroleum-based) or polylactic acid (bio-based) polymers resulted in composites with completely different properties. This chapter provides background on the materials, processes, properties and functionality of such products.