Blends of soy protein concentrate and biodegradable polyester (Eastar Bio Copolyester, EPE) were prepared by using glycerol as a compatibilizing agent. Good miscibility was obtained only when the soy protein was initially combined with glycerol under high shear and at elevated temperatures in an extruder. Under these conditions, partial denaturing of the soy protein led to specific interactions between functional groups of the protein with the glycerol. The extrusion conditions and appropriate screw configuration were the critical factors affecting the reactivity of the protein and hence, the properties of the blends. Screws with large kneading blocks that produced high shear mixing were preferred and led to thermoplastic blends characterized by high elongation and high tensile strength. The morphology of these soy protein/polyester blends was studied by using environmental scanning electron microscopy (ESEM) and indicated good wetting of the soy protein particles within the polyester matrix. The thermal properties were studied by differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and showed a lower degree of crystallinity and a continuous depression of the melting point of the polyester as the concentration of protein was increased. The possibility of using soy protein concentrate instead of the more expensive (higher purity) soy protein isolate in the preparation of biodegradable resins should lead to new commercial opportunities based on renewable, agricultural byproducts. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Appl Polym Sci 92: 3231–3239, 2004
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