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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Preparation, Properties, Protein Cross-Linking and Biodegradability of Plasticizer-Solvent Free Hemp Fibre Reinforced Wheat Gluten, Glutenin, and Gliadin Composites

Muneer, Faraz; Hedenqvist, Mikael S.; Gällstedt, Mikael; Newson, William Roy; Johansson, Eva


The present study is aimed at evaluating the use of plant-based polymers and fibres for the production of sustainable biocomposites. For the first time, plasticiser/solvent-free hemp fibre-reinforced wheat gluten and hemp-gliadin and glutenin composites were obtained by compression moulding at different temperatures. The plasticiser/solvent-free sample preparation method developed in this study facilitated the use of a powdered protein matrix with a mat of randomly oriented hemp fibres. The tensile and protein cross-linking properties, as well as the biodegradability, were investigated. The addition of hemp fibre to the protein matrix increased the E-modulus by 20 to 60% at 130 degrees C. An increase in moulding temperature from 110 to 130 degrees C resulted in an increase in maximum stress due to the formation of intermolecular bonds between protein chains. The gliadin composites had higher E-modulus and maximum stress and showed a larger increase in protein polymerisation with increased temperature compared to the gluten in composites. A comparison of tensile properties revealed that the composites were stiffer and stronger compared to several similarly produced biobased composites. The composites were found to be fully biodegradable under a simulated soil environment after 180 days. Biocomposites produced in the present study were found to be environmentally friendly with fairly good mechanical properties.


Wheat gluten; Hemp fibre; Biocomposites; Compression moulding; Tensile properties; Protein cross-linking; Biodegradability

Published in

2014, Volume: 9, number: 3, pages: 5246-5261