Development Of Soy-Based Biodegradable Fibers And Resins For Soil Stabilization And Crop Protection

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The primary objective of this research was to develop fully biodegradable and environment-friendly fibers from soy flour (SF), a by-product of the soy bean crushing process, for soil stabilization and crop protection. Soybean crop is grown abundantly in USA and other parts of the world. SF is biodegradable and during degradation it also fertilizes the soil naturally. In this research extruded SF fibers containing desired chemicals were used to form a mat that will protect the crops, prevent soil erosion and fertilize the soil, thus creating a novel 'green' technology. Unmodified SF-based fibers showed tensile stress of 2.25 MPa, tensile strain of 2.4% and Young's modulus of 172.69 MPa. Various types of cross-linking agents like glyoxal, glutaraldehyde, rutin and quercetin (a polyphenol occurring in plants), thickening agents like agar agar and guar gum and forms of cellulose like Cellulo(R), micro-fibrillated cellulose and micro-crystalline cellulose were added to SF fibers to improve their mechanical properties, reduce moisture sensitivity and improve durability under normal environmental conditions such as rain. SF fibers biodegrade naturally to provide nutrients to the soil helping plant growth. The physical and mechanical properties of the SF fibers were characterized using appropriate ASTM standards. Field trials indicate that the SF-based fibers are completely biodegradable and SF-based resins performed satisfactorily in comparison with commercially available hydromulch for soil stabilization. One of the main objectives was to find cross linking agents which are environment-friendly and to use them in improving the mechanical characteristics of SF fibers. Compost studies, FTIR spectroscopy and SDS-PAGE analysis indicate that cross-linking has taken place due to reaction of rutin and quercetin with polypeptide chains in soy protein.
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