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Performance and Structure Evaluation of Gln-Lys Isopeptide Bond Crosslinked USYK-SPI Bioplastic Film Derived from Discarded Yak Hair

To reduce the waste from yak hair and introduce resource recycling into the yak-related industry, an eco-friendly yak keratin-based bioplastic film was developed. We employed yak keratin (USYK) from yak hair, soy protein isolate (SPI) from soybean meal as a film-forming agent, transglutaminase (EC, TGase) as a catalytic crosslinker, and glycerol as a plasticizer for USYK-SPI bioplastic film production. The structures of the USYK-SPI bioplastic film were characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), and X-Ray diffraction (XRD). The mechanical properties, the thermal behavior, light transmittance performance, and water vapor permeability (WVP) were measured. The results revealed that the added SPI possibly acted as a reinforcement. The formation of Gln-Lys isopeptide bonds and hydrophobic interactions led to a stable crosslinking structure of USYK-SPI bioplastic film. The thermal and the mechanical behaviors of the USYK-SPI bioplastic film were improved. The enhanced dispersion and formation of co-continuous protein matrices possibly produced denser networks that limited the diffusion of water vapor and volatile compounds in the USYK-SPI bioplastic films. Moreover, the introduction of SPI prompted the relocation of hydrophobic groups on USYK molecules, which gave the USYK-SPI bioplastic film stronger surface hydrophobicity. The SPI and USYK molecules possess aromatic amino residuals (tyrosine, phenylalanine, tryptophan), which can absorb ultraviolet radiation. Thus, the USYK-SPI bioplastic films were shown to have an excellent UV barrier. The synergy effect between USYK and SPI is not only able to improve rigidity and the application performance of keratin-based composite film but can also reduce the cost of the keratin-based composite film through the low-cost of the SPI alternative which partially replaces the high-cost of keratin. The data obtained from this research can provide basic information for further research and practical applications of USYK-SPI bioplastic films. There is an increasing demand for the novel USYK-SPI bioplastic film in exploit packaging material, biomedical materials, eco-friendly wearable electronics, and humidity sensors.

Publication date: 17/06/2022

Author: Wang

Reference: doi: 10.3390/polym14122471

MDPI (polymers)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 870292.